Chizuk for These Times
Hashem has Brought the World to its Knees
Rebbetzin Chaya Chava Pavlov
We live in uncertain times.
All of our assumptions of what normal life is are being challenged. What the world will look like afterwards is also uncertain. We realize our vulnerability and fragility.
But one thing is clear to all of us. Hashem is King.
On Rosh Hashana, we celebrate and coronate our King with joy. We choose Him as King out of our own recognition. The situation we are in, however, appears to be different. Hashem is forcefully showing the world that He is King.
As we move from Purim to Pesach, we remember how Hashem imposed his Kingship on the Egypt with 10 plagues. He did not do that in order to redeem Israel because He did not need the Egyptian’s approval to redeem His people.
Rather, Hashem sent plagues to teach the Egyptians that He is G-d. “Egypt shall know that I am G-d when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them (Shmos 7;2). After much suffering, the Egyptians began to realize that the plagues were indeed “the finger of G-d”.
The world heard. The world knew there was a G-d.
We are witnessing miracles. No less miraculous than the Nile turning into blood, or frogs multiplying and covering the land. No less miraculous than lice or hail or darkness. Hashem is showing the world that “I am G-d.”
The Latin world for crown is corona. Astrologists define a corona as the the rarefied gaseous envelope of the sun and other stars. The sun's corona is normally visible only during a total solar eclipse.
The world has been darkened in order to be able to see the corona, the crown, the “aura” of Hashem. Against their will, the nations of the world are being pushed to recognize there is a greater Power in the world. Will they see it?
For a minute, put aside your anxiety (and who isn’t anxious?), and revel in the miracle of Hashem’s revelation to the entire world. He is teaching them forcibly that which we accepted willfully, Hashem is King. The global village, the world of science and technology and economic stability is powerless.
Only those who want to see the miracle will see it. Look and see what Hashem has done to the world. He had brought the world to its knees.
And we are witnesses.
How to Make it Through this Crisis
Unsettling, worrying, terrifying....
Coronavirus has affected all of us. Hopefully each of you is coping in their own way, but this situation is an unprecedented challenge to many of us. Our lives have been interrupted and so many "givens" have disappeared.
We take for granted that we can wake up and go to work, find products in the store, daven in shul, attend a wedding- the list goes on. We hope this situation is very short-term and "normal" life will resume quickly without too much long- term damage.
But what do we do in the meanwhile?
We can take this time to work on inner growth.
Try to be positive. Try to make this a happy time for those you live with. Our attitude and outlook affect others, and being positive helps you most of all.
Think about who you can help in this situation. Call people who live alone, write others in isolation – When you help others. You replace your anxiety with something positive.
Davening- we can pour out our hearts to Hashem, in our own language or with prepared texts that this pass quickly and we all safe
Care for others- we can daven for those who have been affected- lists are available online. We can daven for the wellbeing of people who are cooped up and otherwise affected by the situation, especially financially.
Virtual smachot- if we hear of a wedding that we cannot attend due to size limitations, we can rejoice from afar and bless them from our hearts We can call and email and whatapp.
Learning - there are endless classes online- if we have newfound time, we can use it to learn.
Appreciation- We can focus on appreciating what we have- our health, loved ones, communities. Jewish identity.
Appreciation #2 -We can realize that we often take our gifts for granted and when they are temporarily missing, we come to appreciate them even more.
Bitachon- we can use this as an opportunity to internalize that message that Hashem is in charge of the world and of me, and we can rely on Him and exclusively on Him. This can bring to inner calm in this unsettling time.
Tehillim- When we echo the words of King David, we tap into his worldview. I specifically recommend Chapters 23, and 131.
May we all rise to this challenging time and find inner peace through our connection to Hashem.
Being Loved and Cared for
By Alyssa Kevelson
I have been at She’arim now for almost a year and a half. During my time here, I have experienced the seemingly never-ending support and encouragement from all of the staff at the school. Through the ups and downs of seminary life, each and every Rebbetzin, Rabbi, administrator and tutor has been ready and willing to listen and help in any way that they can. Their commitment to the girls has never ceased to amaze me, but these past few weeks alone have shown me how unbelievable She’arim really is.
As the corona virus continues to spread throughout the world, we have all been asked to make changes to our lives as quickly as possible. Keeping up with the ever- changing regulations in Israel has been hectic, but the staff at She’arim has done everything they can to help make the transition as smooth as possible. They are working overtime to keep us safe, healthy, well fed, and continue to provide us with learning opportunities.
Overnight, our teachers went from learning with us in person to conducting their daily shiurim via video conferences. The school has now emptied the contents of the kitchen into our dorms to stock us with more food than we could possibly need. We have even been offered financial assistance if we’ve lost jobs due to quarantine measures or are struggling to afford the food and supplies that are required while in lockdown.
When our ability to go out to families in the community for Shabbos was halted, the She’arim staff came together to make sure we would have proper meals in the dorms (even meat in the dorm!). On a Thursday evening, the Israeli government announced increased restrictions on our movements, and by the following morning students had challah, grape juice, salads and kugels. This past Shabbos, we were delivered chicken, homemade cakes, roasted vegetables, soup and more.
And now, as the Jewish community attempts to make sense of what is going on, our teachers continue to provide us with endless chizuk and inspiration to help us get through these challenging times from both a spiritual and mental perspective.
To say we are grateful for everything the school has done is an understatement. While most of us are thousands of miles away from our families, She’arim has given us a safe haven, and a home that’ll stay with us long after our time at seminary is over. The staff at She’arim have become exemplary role models of what it means to have mesiras nefesh, and despite a limited budget and an inability to travel abroad to fundraise for the school, Rebbetzin Pavlov continues to provide for all of our needs without fail.
Even a world health crisis can’t stop She’arim from helping their students with their spiritual growth and personal development.