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18 Shvat, 5780 - February 13, 2020 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Torah Leaders Thinking About, Understanding and Responding to the Coronavirus

by Rabbi Gershon Twersky and Yated Ne'eman Staff

HaRav Chaim Kanievsky

All gedolei HaTorah said that those in Israel should heed the instructions of the doctors and the guidelines of the Israel Ministry of Health to prevent the plague from reaching the Holy Land.

Sar HaTorah HaRav Chaim Kanievsky said, "In these days of Shovevim that have a special segulah to batter Amolek as is mentioned in our parsha (Beshalach) and to separate ourselves from all the tumah of Mitzrayim and the culture of the nations of the world. May it be fulfilled, `All the sickness that I visited upon Mitzrayim I will not put upon you because I am Hashem your healer.' "

Maran Rosh Hayeshiva HaRav Gershon Edelstein said that no evil befalls the world that is not because of Israel. One must remember that everything is with Hashgochoh from Shomayim. There is no reason to fear. We must strengthen our emunah that everything is from Him Yisborach, and to increase Torah that protects and saves from all bad things."

HaRav Gershon Edelstein

HaRav Eliakim Pashkes, the rosh yeshiva of Givat Shaul, quoted the mashgiach HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein zt"l that one should look at world events like the prophet Yonah did: It is because of me that there is all this storm.

He quoted the Droshos HaRan: "Sometimes there are events in faraway places whose purpose is to arouse Israel to teshuvah, and they will see and worry lest the calamity will affect them. This is the meaning of what the prophet says (Tzefania 3:6-7): I cut down nations and destroyed their buildings, left their roads without travelers and their cities left without people. And I said, You will certainly see what I did and take mussar.

"But when they do not learn lessons from the suffering of others, the calamities become progressively closer to them. And there is no doubt that one who sees all these troubles which are truly warnings from Hashem Yisborach and he just continues along in the way he was going, he is like someone who does an aveiroh, and gets a warning against it and ignores it and lets himself be open to death."

The Chofetz Chaim also wrote, in a letter entitled "Why Do you Slumber?" dated erev Yom Kippur 5688 (1927):

"A few weeks ago I published an essay about the great earthquake that there was in our Holy Land, in which I enjoined Klal Yisroel to teshuva, [saying] that the earthquake is a warning to the entire world to leave their evil ways and to believe in Hashem and that everything is in His hand and it is not just random that all these awful things have happened this year. And now we have heard of new calamities, flooding in our country and a great earthquake in Russia in which may were killed and buried in their own homes, as we even felt the tremors here. Certainly everyone will be terrified and ask why has Hashem done this? He is certainly good and does good to everyone and has mercy on all His creatures. He does not seek the death of the rosho but his repenting his deeds.

"But those who understand will see that Hashem is encouraging us to teshuva and showing all what He can do... It is clear to me that if we had prophets from Hashem they would certainly speak up to Israel to return to our Father in heaven. But since in our many sins we do not have prophets, so He uses other messengers, `He makes the winds His messengers, and the burning fire His servant.' "

In the introduction to the siddur Ishei Yisroel and the commentary Siach Yitzchok, HaRav Yitzchok Maltsen writes:

"It can happen that twenty people will sit next to an open window and it does them no harm, except to one of them. And there is no real reason why one that one was harmed (and even though those lacking faith may try to give reasons, but in truth that is not the case) and according to the latest approach, germs cause illness, but no one can have such complete control to completely avoid them even if he try a thousand methods. And there was a case that a woman in America who recovered from a disease wrote a letter to her mother overseas, and tears fell from her eyes while doing so onto the paper, and then her mother, when she got the letter, kissed it out of her loving feelings and she caught the germs that were embedded in the paper and were faithful messengers to carry the disease over this tremendous distance. About this it was said, `To your judgments all stand today, because all are your servants.'

"My words are not directed to scoffers and heretics, R"l, but to pure Jews who say the Ani ma'amin every day, but they will not take them to heart and think about all matters of faith and Hashgochoh. If they were wise they would understand this, and they would find many opportunities to deepen their faith."

The famous Mashgiach, HaRav Yeruchom Levovitz zt"l of Mir Yeshiva in Europe, writes in an essay entitled, "Hashmi'ini es Koleich," in his work Daas Chochmoh Umussar, that very often the intent of bringing on danger and salvation is not the danger or the miraculous salvation, but the Vayitz'aku - the crying out. Hashem desires, as it were, our prayers so that he brings calamities for which there is no way out but to call out. This is the reason that Hashem saved Avrohom Ovinu from inside the fiery furnace and did not just keep him from being thrown into it in the first place. Hashem wanted to put Avrohom into a situation from which there was no natural possibility of salvation and cause him to pray.

For the same reason, the Mothers of our nation did not have wombs and it was not enough for them to be normally childless. Hashem wanted to foreclose any chance of a natural remedy so that their voice would rise in supplication. Similarly Chizkiyahu Hamelech was put into a situation the equivalent of a sharp sword poised over his neck, with no natural way out, so that his voice would be heard in prayer.

Hashem desires the prayers of Yisroel, and the purpose of all the difficult situations throughout the course of history is the desire of Hashem, as it were, to hear our heartfelt prayers.

A similar thought was expressed by HaRav Moshe Schwab zt"l the mashgiach of Lakewood in his sefer Ma'archei Lev (p. 197):

The trouble does not cause the obligation to pray but the opposite. If the obligation to pray is not met, it causes troubles to come. When there is a war or other calamity, we pray. But in truth Chazal said, "A person should always pray before the trouble comes." Because if he prays in advance of anything, the trouble will not come. If we would pray in advance, war would never come.


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