The recent Coronavirus poses new challenges to religion. Aside from wondering why God is supposedly mad at us (everything is for a reason, you know) – there are some several intriguing issues that relate specifically to Orthodox Judaism.
The Orthodox Jewish religion dictates many specific and rigorous rituals, which are of little interest to the tiny virus. The holiday of “Purim” took place in last March, and many believers followed the command to attend together the reading of the “Megillah” – the Book of Esther. This happened to be exactly the time when the virus started spreading all over the world. Only God probably knows how many people were infected by those ceremonies.
In Orthodox Judaism, a “Minyan” is the quorum of ten Jewish male adults required for many type of prayers. This is so embedded in the day-to-day life of religious people, that many of them occasionally volunteer to “complete a Minyan” if it’s not full, even if they are not familiar with the others that attend.
The above, as well as many other rituals and customs, have certainly helped spreading the Coronavirus. However, Judaism has one wonderful rule that balances the others, and it comes from the book of Deuteronomy 4:15 – “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves” – in other words, take care of yourselves. And this one is also a divine command. Thus it now serves many as an excuse to keep their distance from others and override other commands.
We have to remember this the next time we talk about global warming, for example.