Coronavirus – Wear Your Crown
In this week’s parsha we read of the heartbreaking and disturbing event of the Israelites serving the Golden Calf at the foot of Mount Sinai 40 days after they received the Torah at that self-same spot. We tend to think of this incident as a national failing, and it was in a certain respect. But not in the way we would normally expect it.
Ask your average person who is somewhat familiar with the story just how many people do they think participated in this grievous sin and you will most likely get the answer that a significant percentage of the populace did. Maybe even the majority. Cecil B. Demille, the guy who produced the 1950’s classic, The Ten Commandments, certainly portrays it that way. But when you look at the original source and actually read the text – that being this week’s Torah portion of Ki Tissa – it states that those who were killed for participating in this sin were 3,000 men.
Now consider that the Torah elsewhere states that 600,000 males left Egypt at the Exodus. So doing the math, we see that a mere half of one percent were actually directly involved with the Golden Calf. And that doesn’t take into account the women and children. Factor that into the population equation and the number becomes even lower at about a tenth of one percent.
Don’t get me wrong, this was most definitely a national failing and the Torah portrays it as such. But mostly due to the fact that the vast majority of the Israelites were sitting on their hands and not doing anything to protest this travesty. But when you look at the hard, cold numbers it was a very small group who created this national calamity.
The same can be said about an equally and perhaps even worse national failing that occurred later on in the Torah when 10 spies were sent to Canaan to check it out before the Israelites were to go into the Promised Land. 10 guys managed to significantly alter all of Jewish history with their hostile and negative report of Israel. Their intimidating report changed the heart of the whole nation and God decided that that generation would not enter the land.
The impact of this tiny group emphasizes the power that a small assembly of individuals can have in changing their community and even their entire nation. When a group as small as ten people are unified and dedicated to a particular cause, they can transform the society around them in a very dramatic fashion and even alter the course of history. A mere ten individuals, working together can have a huge impact and indeed Rabbi Weinberg zt”l, the founder of Aish, in his quest to build a movement used to often declare, “Give me 10 Men and we can change the world!”
Which brings me to the Coronavirus that has swept the globe and is affecting all of us in some fashion or another. It has disrupted our travel plans, sent the stock market crashing, caused sporting and other entertainment events to cancel, and upset a host of other areas of our lives too numerous to mention, not the least of which is finding toilet paper (I still am unsure about that connection). When you look at the hard numbers of how many people have actually contracted the virus and how many have died from it, the numbers are miniscule. Don’t get me wrong, I am not downplaying the severity of it and how it can spread, nor do I question the steps being taken to ensure that it doesn’t multiply. But from a strictly mathematical and statistical standpoint the actual number of those who are ill is bubkes. And nevertheless, the world has been turned upside down.
But this is how it is in life, how it is in societies and what our parsha is demonstrating. Something very small can change everything. All it takes is a very small group to affect the vast majority. It works that way in the material world and it works that way in the spiritual world as well. A small number of people can have an outsized impact on the rest. This is a simple fact of life, whether bad choices are made, or good ones.
Granted a disease is not a choice, but it offers an important lesson that dovetails with our parsha. A small subgroup can have a huge impact on the rest of their environment. That impact can then spread to other locales, to other cities, states and provinces, to the nation at large and ultimately to the entire world.
So let’s put a positive spin on this. Coronavirus got its name because of the crown shape appearance of the virus. We all know the impact someone wearing a crown has and how a princely person can influence the many that surround him or her. We all have the potential to be leaders, to wear that crown and influence others.
So while we do everything we can to prevent the spread of this sickness, at the same time let’s take a lesson from it. Let’s allow ourselves to use it as motivation to help us realize the quick and widespread impact we each can have on making our world, not a place of disease, but a healthy and better place to live.
He bag production
He got walrus gumboot
He got Ono sideboard
He one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knee
Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease
Come together right now over me