Will we ever go back to normal?

What is normal? If we know anything at all, it’s that the definition has radically changed over the last two months.

Normal used to be commuting to and from work each day, but Corona has forced us to reconsider whether we need to commute at all or if we can work entirely from home.

Normal used to involve eating out multiple times a week, but Corona has necessitated that we learn how to eat primarily from our own kitchens.

Normal used to mean entertainment required broadway shows, movies, and concerts, but we have shattered that notion by entertaining ourselves at home with our families and online Torah classes.

Normal Saturday nights used to mean getting dressed up and going out with friends; now we happily stay in with family, play games, and eat popcorn.

Normal used to be getting dressed up and driving out to attend celebrations. Corona has shown us that we can celebrate via Zoom.

Normal used to be that in order to be happy, we needed to make lots of money, go on vacations, travel the world. Corona has forced us to stop and notice how happy we can be taking life a little slower, staying home with family.

Normal used to mean business must be conducted in person, with lunches and office meetings, but Corona has taught us that we can strategize just fine over Zoom.

Normal used to include the assumption we could plan and schedule months ahead of time. Now we’ve gotten used to living day by day.

Normal used to mean there were answers to simple questions, like “When does summer camp begin?” Now, there are no answers and we’ve learned to live with that.

The truth is, Corona has shown me so clearly what it means to be a religious Jew.

To be Jewish means that whatever I considered normal yesterday cannot be the norm today.

Every day we need to challenge ourselves to defy what we know to be the norm. If yesterday keeping Shabbat seemed beyond my reach, today let me rethink that. Perhaps I can do it. If yesterday keeping kosher was too difficult, let me lean on what Corona has taught me: nothing is impossible. If yesterday learning Torah was not stimulating enough, today I will break that boundary and embrace it.

Every single night when I go to bed, I need to examine my actions during that day and resolve to do things differently the next day. Tomorrow I will be different. I will be kinder and more patient. I will overcome my evil impulses and temptations. And the day after that? I will be even better! Because Corona has taught me to strategize and rethink.

In the face of Corona we feel absolutely powerless. Will there be a second wave? Will there be a cure? Will schools reopen in September? Will there be summer camps? We don’t know. But one thing we do know, one thing Corona has brought to the forefront, is that we can put our trust and reliance in our Father in Heaven. He knows, He’s in control, and whatever He does will be in our best interest.

We wait patiently for the person who will be the ultimate defier of the norm—Moshiach himself, who will heal all the sick, bring a cure to all diseases, and bring peace to the entire universe.

Let’s defy our norm and pray even harder today that he arrives right now.

Good Shabbos

Rabbi Uriel Vigler

About the Author
Zimbabwean-born Rabbi Uriel Vigler has been directing the Chabad Israel Center of the Upper East Side of Manhattan together with his wife Shevy since 2005. In addition, he founded Belev Echad which helps wounded IDF soldiers. He has a weekly blog on current events. He is the proud father of eight children (including triplets) and leads a very young, vibrant and dynamic community.
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