Relationships in a time of Corona

Today, with the extraordinary situation going on in the world, instead of one of you asking me a question, I’m going to ask all of you. Because I don’t know — I’m at a loss.

What does all of this mean?

I’m sure, just like me, you’re locked down at home — thinking about spending Passover with your immediate family (if you have), and maybe whatever you can get your hands on, to read for company.

I hope and pray that, unlike me, you’re feeling well. I’m not. This virus is no walk in the park, even for the young and healthy — let me tell you.

And as an extrovert who is used to spending Passover with hundreds of people, this is a big change for me and my family.

But here we are. So what does it all mean?

(I would love to hear back from some of you. Tell me your uplifting stories, questions that arose, anything!)

As I (virtually) look around, I just have one thing to say.

Coronavirus has confirmed for me what I always suspected: that the most important thing in the world is relationships.

As we lose everything that we thought our lives were about — education, work, money, celebrations, vacations, etc. — we are only left with ourselves and the people around us.

It’s not easy. I’m sure many of us are pulling our hair out, being around the same people all of the time. (On the other hand, how lucky we are to have people around us, all of the time).

But sometimes it’s hard to like the people you love, in such close quarters… This is a great time to work on your marriage, and your relationship with your children. Please take the opportunity to connect with them in a deeper way; learn to like the people you love. Use the inevitable conflicts that arise as opportunities for growth. Don’t be afraid to “rupture and repair”.

You can also deepen your relationship with the community of people who live around you. Is there anybody who needs groceries or medication delivered? Now’s the time to reach out to that neighbour you never speak to!

And if you’re alone, please reach out to a neighbour — people are overwhelmingly ready to help if you can brave the ask.

The Jewish community is also at a crossroads. There is so much tension on Facebook — at least in Montreal, where I live. The virus is high in the densely Jewish neighbourhoods, and the finger is being pointed at entire societies. “Those snowbirds, those Hasidim, those teenagers…”

This is a great time to learn more about your Jewish brethren who look different than you do; to build deeper relationships within the Jewish community.

Once you’re doing that, there’s someone else you can get closer with: G-d. Life is so busy and distracting, it’s hard to find time to pray and study; if you haven’t done it in a while, dust off that prayerbook or Torah text, or join one of the many prayer/study groups on Zoom, and see where it takes you. This is a unique opportunity.

Finally, this is a chance to rebuild your relationship… with You.

So many of our challenges exist because we don’t know ourselves. And who can blame us? Once we’re old enough to understand ourselves, we have no time to introspect.

You’ve got the time right now.

If you feel out of balance — which means that the different faculties that make up “You” don’t communicate very well with each other — then schedule some quiet time to meditate, and let your heart and your mind speak. Listen to what they have to say, and see if you can find some peace for their conflict.

And always, always spread positivity in your relationships; we need it more than ever right now.

When this is all over, we’re still going to have to live with everybody around us. Let’s try to come out stronger than we came in.

Have a question for Rabbi Bernath? rabbi@JewishNDG.com

About the Author
Rabbi Yisroel Bernath is Rabbi at Rohr Chabad NDG and is the Jewish Chaplain at Concordia University and has helped hundreds of singles break through the 'singles wall'. He founded JMatchmaking International (a network of Jewish dating sites) and has made over sixty successful matches so far, hence the "Love Rabbi" moniker. But you certainly don't have to be Jewish to make good use of his advice.
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