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'Second wave' or internalizing the change

The Parasha in the daily Life – Parashat Balak - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald- 5780

וַיַּ֥רְא בָּלָ֖ק בֶּן־צִפּ֑וֹר אֵ֛ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לָֽאֱמֹרִֽי׃וַיָּ֨גָר מוֹאָ֜ב מִפְּנֵ֥י הָעָ֛ם מְאֹ֖ד כִּ֣י רַב־ה֑וּא וַיָּ֣קָץ מוֹאָ֔ב מִפְּנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

"Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites

Moab was alarmed because that people was so numerous. Moab dreaded the Israelites" (Bamidbar 22:2-3).

Balak King of Moab felt threatened by the people of Israel on his border and sought to hire Balaam's services to help him deal with the threat unconventionally, by cursing.

וְעַתָּה֩ לְכָה־נָּ֨א אָֽרָה־לִּ֜י אֶת־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֗ה כִּֽי־עָצ֥וּם

"Come then, put a curse upon this people for me". (Bamidbar 22:6)

Since Balaam was a prophet, he doubted that G-d would allow him, but his hatred and his pride spurred him on to try to find crooked ways, maybe find a loophole, maybe a change.

The first attempt failed. And not only did it fail, G-d changed the curse into a blessing. But Balaam would not admit and acknowledge that this had no chance. He saw it as a 'wave' that failed. And so, he and Balak tried to deal with the 'second wave'. And when neither this one nor the 'third wave' succeeded, they had to accept it and acknowledge that it was hopeless.

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the world by surprise like a thunderstorm on a clear day. A small, uncontrollable virus weakened the postmodern world and disrupted its habits. As believers, we believe that the microscopic virus is not self-managing. The Almighty manages His world, sometimes in surprising and shaky ways.

The epidemic seized the world, helpless, precisely when it seemed to realize the dream of one big global "Babel Tower". In a time of prosperity, when it was so confident and able to manage itself according  to a global order and the global economic behavior it outlined, and the elaborate tools it developed.

The tiny virus damaged the human existential self-confidence, and its medical ability to defend itself and cope with diseases and the threat to life.

It grounded at once the immense and elaborate system of air mobility of which it was proud, which made the world a small global village with no distinction of ethnic, cultural, and economic frameworks.

It damaged the global economy and various economic sectors that could not coexist, thereby threatening another component of personal human existence - livelihood.

It directly threatens the cultural trend that has evolved over the years - of man's departure from himself and his basic nuclear frameworks - home and family, into the undefined and indefinite open space, with no boundaries and no intimacy and distance between the personal and other people's circles.

In the first phase, man was in denial. However, the attempt to ignore and underestimate the virus' existence and its consequences, resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands worldwide. And required the world leaders to acknowledge that there is no alternative and they must proceed differently, according to the dictates of the virus.

The virus forced humanity to accept, within a short time and with a lack of choice, a 'closure' and isolation within the nuclear family cell. The air mobility was grounded, and disabled local and global economic systems in their existing form.

Mankind found itself in an existential earthquake that changed the world order. In history, in the last century, it experienced such earthquakes only after the World Wars. However, it did not want to allow itself to realize, it was captive of a microscopic virus and that there was a phenomenon here that required a world order change from the ground up and a change in cultural behavior.

Therefore, it called the epidemic a "wave" with the hope that after a limited period it would make the required change and disable the previous order; the wave would pass and it could return to the previous, familiar routine.

When the temporary downfall improved the state of humanity, it told itself that the 'wave' had passed and wanted to return to the previous routine. However, reality was striking again, and the price of lost lives was back on the rise.

It is still difficult for humanity to come to terms with the forced change and instead of admitting it, it calls it a "second wave", although nothing has changed from the "first wave" and the mere expression "the second wave" is a reflection of the refusal to acknowledge the painful fact that there is a dramatic change. It is not a "second wave" but a "discovery of the change" that is here to stay.

Finding a medical solution that will effectively counteract and eliminate the virus will take years! And in the meantime, at one point or another humanity will have to come to the painful and dreadful conclusion, that it has no choice but to adapt to the dramatic changes dictated by the virus. That the virus is here to stay, for a long time, and to ignore its existence or attempt to continue and preserve the previous world order, will cost humanity many more casualties.

It is difficult for humanity to accept such dramatic changes and to see the existing layout, become irrelevant and to realize that most probably in the near future, what was important, will not be anymore.

A new era is beginning with a new world disposition. Mankind will have to lay out restrictions and limitations to itself and will have to make interpersonal and occupational communications virtual, the same as leisure culture: personal and non-masses, and less touching and personal closeness.

Those who understand and are aware of these changes, will benefit. And those who deceive themselves saying it is a passing wave, and take temporary steps trying to return to the previous ways, might pay a heavy price and be proven that after the first wave there are the 'second' and 'third' and 'fourth'.

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