Torah for Today: Keeping faith in an ongoing pandemic
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Torah for Today: Keeping faith in an ongoing pandemic

Rabbi Jeff Berger takes Jewish text and applies it to a modern-day theme

2021 was Year of the Vaccine. For a while we all felt safer and nearly invincible. But as infections spiked and the Omicron variant proliferated, we had to admit to not really having regained control. Nor can we guess how soon it may be before life returns to some state of predictability.
What does the Torah say about hope and faith as we enter the third year of the pandemic?

“For Your salvation I hope, O Lord.” (Genesis 49:18) Jacob blessed his son Dan to ‘hope’ daily for our collective redemption.

Hope is to wait for something with expectation and anticipation, but without certainty it will occur. Hope is transitory and subjective; our hope these past 22 months seems to have fluctuated with the vicissitudes
of the virus.

“And he had faith in the Lord, and God counted it to him for righteousness.” (Gen 15:6) Faith (emunah) stems from the word uman or craftsperson. It is a skill, honed through practise and experience. Abraham’s 10 tests of faithfulness weren’t an inconvenience but a blessing – they were a divine course in developing inner strength, increasing his ‘faith’ confidence, and expanding his reservoir of resilience.

The sages tell us: “We’re never tested in ways that are beyond our ability to
overcome.”

God is always present, always loving, always providing the energy for existence. Without God, there would be no life. It is worrying to lose control and it is wearisome not knowing when the virus will disappear. But fretting constantly is not a solution. Admittedly, some of us are still frightened of becoming infected, although statistics prove that vaccinations mitigate the danger.

As we enter the third calendar year in which the pandemic continues to impact our movement and impinge our ability to plan forward, let us draw strength from our heritage, recognising that being tested is a blessing. The new future we’re creating requires not only hope, but genuine faith
in God.

  •   Rabbi Jeff Berger serves the Wembley Sephardi Synagogue
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