| Parshah |

COVID Kindness

It’s not just tragedy that causes kiddush Hashem, but any personal or communal struggle



“Hashem said: ‘I will be sanctified with those close to me, in front of the whole nation, I will be honored.’ And Aharon was quiet.” (Vayikra 10:3)


The above pasuk, about the deaths of Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, explains that these deaths were actually a kiddush Hashem. When Bnei Yisrael saw that Divine Justice will be meted consistently — even for the slightest wavering of the righteous — it strengthened their faith and caused a kiddush Hashem. Even though Nadav and Avihu died because of a spiritual failing, it was eclipsed by the greater spiritual result. (Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky, Beyond Pshat)

Emerging from lockdown means seeing people you haven’t seen in months, with a once-routine trip to the grocery becoming fertile ground for long-lost reunions. So it was when I stood between the chickpeas and corn and got bumped from behind with a cart.

“Sorry!” The perpetrator was nearly buried behind a mound of groceries, but that didn’t stop me from recognizing her.

“Devora! How are you? I haven’t seen you in ages!”

“We’re good, baruch Hashem. Just finished our second month in quarantine, hence the massive grocery refill. Our family had COVID in three shifts. I felt like we were the only ones left on the planet and after the first week of ‘togetherness,’ believe me, the planet was Mars.”

“Sounds wild,” I commiserated, having done six weeks of quarantine with my own family. “But what about Motti?” Devora has a special-needs son who lives in a group home in Yerushalayim. “Did he also catch it?”

Similarly, the Asarah Harugei Malchus were killed cruelly by the Romans to atone for the ten brothers selling Yosef into slavery. Although the devastation of losing the Ten Martyrs was unfathomable, it brought about tremendous kiddush Hashem. Rabi Yishmael asked in Heaven, “What is Hashem’s Will regarding the Ten Martyrs?” Hashem replied that it was crucial for the future of the Jewish People that these ten die al kiddush Hashem and so each of them agreed. Although these deaths seemed so devastating, they were in essence a kiddush Hashem.

“Funny you ask about Motti,” Devora moved her wagon out of shopping traffic. “When we got the first positive results, he was actually on his way home for a Shabbos visit. I knew if he entered our house, he’d be with us for the duration of quarantine as he couldn’t return after being exposed.

“But it was Friday afternoon, and I had no one to take him — the group home was closed that weekend. Then I got a phone call from Moshe Berg, you know him? He works in Motti’s dorm. When I told him what was going on, he offered to have Motti for Shabbos, just like that.”

It’s not just tragedy that causes kiddush Hashem, but any personal or communal struggle. Both Yehudah and Yosef also caused tremendous kiddush Hashem at very difficult times in their lives. Yosef resisted the advances of Eishes Potiphar and merited to have the letter hei added to his name, as it’s written on the Choshen: “YeHosef.”

Yehudah too merited the entire Name of Hashem. The letters of Hashem’s Name are all included in his name because he brought about a kiddush Hashem when he publicly disgraced himself by admitting he was wrong regarding the issue of Tamar.

Especially when times seem dark and difficult, we must recognize that it’s precisely the difficulty that’s causing the sanctification of Hashem’s name.

“Doesn’t Moshe have a bunch of kids in a two-bedroom apartment?” I wondered if I’d have been able to rise to the occasion and accept a last-minute guest who needed special attention.

“Yep, that’s why I never would have dreamed of asking him. But the Bergs made Motti feel like an honored guest. You know, when things are the hardest for everyone, it’s amazing how people step up to the plate.”

“So true,” I agreed. “We had meals delivered while in quarantine, and people even sent toys and treats for the kids.”

Devora nodded. “My neighbor started a story hotline for kids, free of charge. Life’s been difficult this past year. It feels like there’s a dark cloud over the whole world, so many suffering, so many lost. I’ve felt so down, especially during quarantine. But seeing the many chasadim that people are doing all over the globe, it… it just fills me up. More than a full grocery cart!”

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 737)

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