‘Stepping Up to the Plate’

For those of you who read my blog “Hocus Pocus,” you’ll recall my plea to rabbis of all three branches of Judaism to learn how to blow the ‘winds of G-d’ to protect us Jews from the almighty corona.

If the Christians can do, I saw no obstacles for our chosen religious leaders not to compete.

No religion holds a patent on creating amulets, holy water or blowing on viruses.

So lo and behold, when I read articles in the Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post that members of an ultra-Orthodox charity had jumped into the mass production of coronavirus amulets, I screamed, “The Orthodox know how to step up to the plate.”

These ultra-Orthodox Jewish charities have climbed to the top of the coronavirus business heap.

But I asked myself, “Would they know how to sell snake oil and not charge exorbitant prices?”

That inquiry led to a plethora of questions.

Questions that floated around my bored-as-hell brain.

“Were these black hats reading my TOI blog?”

“Were these ultra-Orthodox brethren sharing my stories?”

“Were they capable of understanding my wry sense of humor?”

“If I wore a blue and white striped soft cotton cloth sack around my neck, would I be accused of making a fashion statement?”

“Can an $836 amulet spare my family from the horrors of COVID-19?”

“Isn’t $836 a bit stiff or a bit steep for the average Israeli family?”

“Can’t I buy blessed amulets on the internet for as little as 36 bucks that will repel this baneful virus from creeping into my lungs?”

“Where did they come up with the $836 price tag for good luck charms? (I did note that the 36 was double Chai. I also prayed that the amulet would not just consist of a photo of a rabbi, some scriptural phrases and the word coronavirus in Hebrew.)

“Should I buy multiple amulets for the different branches of my family?”

“Would these amulet purchases be tax deductible as medical expenses, i.e. health insurance or charitable deductions?”

“What magical concoctions do the Orthodox put into these amulets?”

“Was there a money-back guarantee if I came down with corona?”

I quickly realized the answer to all of these questions was, “I will never know.”

But I speculated that for $836, the amulet pouch was most likely made out of 1,500 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets. These little sacks being hand-cut, three inch in circumference circles scissored from newlyweds’ premarital sheets.

Then I thought, “For that much money, these holy pouches had better been dipped into the sanctified waters of Jordan River, the Red Sea and the Nile?”

“Did these Hasids know that Maimonides opposed to the sale of amulets?”

I bet Maimonides understood that in a time of pandemic, that some orthodox charities would be unable to stop themselves from offering their protective charms to worried Jews without financially gorging them.

I bet Maimonides knew that you can’t trust some rabbis with hocus pocus.

And then it hit me right between my eyes.

This fiasco could have been all my fault, for having asked a bunch of rabbis to step up to the plate in our fight against COVID-19.

So I promised myself, “I’ll never do that again.”

About the Author
South Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. Mort is a correspondent for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel Jewish Journal.
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