How should we respond to the coronavirus epidemic?
Kohelet, written by King Solomon may have an answer.
Some people find Kohelet a dark take on the human condition, others find it honest and inspiring.
In it, Solomon describes life as an endless and frustrating search for comfort, wisdom and understanding.
“2. Vanity of vanities, said Koheleth; vanity of vanities, all is vanity. 3. What profit has a man in all his toils that he toils under the sun? 4. A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth endures forever. 5. The sun rises and the suns sets and to its place it yearns and rises there.” (Kohelet 1:2-5)
Even search for knowledge, according to Solomon, is meaningless. “1:18. For in much wisdom, is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge, increases pain.”
So what are we to do? How are we to respond to such a bleak image?
Solomon has a solution.
“Enjoy life with the wife whom you love all the days of your life of your vanity whom he has given you under the sun, all the days of your vanity, for that is your portion in life, and in your toil that you toil under the sun.” Kohelet 9:9.
Marriage, love, sharing your bounty, losses, dreams, concerns are the best defenses against “vanities”, despondency, loneliness and the “futilities” of life.
King Solomon’s advice is reminiscent of the British performer, Tracey Ullman, who, dressed in a fuzzy bathrobe at the close of her television show, would wave at her audience and tell them “Go home!”