I’m convinced the pandemic has made the whole world Jewish.
The first inkling I had was in March, when everyone started wearing masks the week before Purim. A coincidence perhaps, but that was just the beginning of suspicious behaviour among the non-Jewish population.
There was lots of ritual hand-washing and, in the weeks before Passover, just as we traditionally rush to the supermarket to fill our trolleys, everyone in the UK started doing the same. Immediately afterwards, the country entered a period when it was prohibited to get married or take a haircut. Dating couples even became shomer negia and avoided physical contact.
Then, of course, the government went full-on rabbinic by confusing everyone with complex new rules, all of which were open to interpretation and had huge geographical variance. At this point, most people got frustrated and took to social media to moan about the rules and ask whether the rule of six applied outdoors or was it only indoors, and did it matter if the other household were in a different tier and had their own support bubble.
These online complaints suggest to me that while everyone may have secretly wanted to be Jewish, sadly they weren’t yet ready. They can’t be, because these rules the gentile populace find baffling are absolutely nothing for us Jews.
If this were Jewish law, it would be that restaurants must close at sundown. Masks would need to have a minimum size of a tefach (which Boris Johnson holds to be 3.15 inches but Nicola Sturgeon says is 4.2 inches). And, of course, handwashing would need to be done with the right hand first, each hand three times, and if you speak in between singing Happy Birthday and putting on your mask, then you need to do it all over again.
Some people have starting thinking about the laws of lockdown in a way that makes me think they would be outstanding Talmudic scholars. A non-Jewish friend was having a guest over on the Friday evening during which London entered Tier 2. When I suggested his caller would have to leave on the stroke of midnight, my friend argued the key thing was your location at midnight, at which point that location – and presumably the surrounding four cubits – would immediately become your permitted base. This being the case, his friend could stay indefinitely, but after leaving would not be allowed back. (If you want more of this, Tracture Eruvin is the one for you.)
Everyone has become so interested in the minutiae of what can only be called Hilchos Lockdown that people have started discussing the most Jewish of concepts: the spirit of the law. So when Dominic Cummings drove to Durham, either to visit family or test his eyesight depending on which version you believe, many commentators felt that while he may not have broken the law, his journey to the north-east was not in the spirit of the law.
The only other times I have heard this phrase has been in connection to Sabbath observance when someone has considered leaving a TV on in order to watch the Cup Final.
And yet, I believe the gradual Jewification of the world goes deeper still. Jews have always thought their own level of observance is the gold standard. It doesn’t matter where you are on the religious spectrum: anyone more religious than you is crazy meshuga frummer; anyone less religious is practically a gentile.
Now the rest of the world is doing this regarding the observance of Covid guidelines. Anyone who is a bit more careful than you is a germaphobe Howard Hughes-level lunatic. Anyone who does slightly less than you is a disgrace, has blood on their hands, and any future outbreak will be their personal fault.
Welcome to the club, everyone. You’re all Jews now.