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The Great Reset

When unusual hardship comes along, there’s a chance to press reset. What emerges can be tougher, more resourceful, focused and meaning-seeking people than before.

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hen we emerge, blinking, into the sunlight of the post-corona era, what will the world look like?

No one has any idea, because it all depends how long it takes, but one thing is for sure: if we as Torah individuals and Jewish communities pick up where we left off, there’s something very wrong with us.

Covid-19 has changed so much of our world, so quickly, that it’s hard to grasp that just two weeks ago we lived a very different existence. Remember normal shopping, driving to the office, or sending kids off to school? In its suddenness and scale, this is a global emergency more like a world war than an illness.

As the new reality of no school, shuttered shops, and living under lockdown dawned, I told my children, “Remember what’s happening now, because your grandchildren will want to know what you did “when the coronavirus came.”

But not only are we living history - depending on how long this all lasts, corona may have a reset effect on many aspects of life.

The generation who lived through the Great Depression, then D-Day and Iwo Jima were collectively known as the “Greatest Generation,” Many of them were disciplined, industrious and family-oriented. They went on to build America’s postwar boom with the kind of drive that living by their wits had ingrained in them.

Per Wikipedia, sociology professor Glenn Hold Elder found that “most of these children of the Great Depression fared unusually well in their adult years”. They came out of the hardships of the Great Depression “with an ability to know how to survive and make do and solve problems.”

Our Holocaust survivors were the Jewish People’s “greatest generation.” No one was there to give them a leg up, and with a world that didn’t understand what they’d been through, they knew they had no choice but to forge on. They hid their pain, and many went on to build homes, successful businesses and indeed the Torah world that we know today.

When unusual hardship comes along, there’s a chance to press reset. What emerges can be tougher, more resourceful, focused and meaning-seeking people than before.

B’ezras Hashem, the pain we’re now going through in America, Israel, and Europe should pass quickly, and there is no comparison with what our grandparents endured.

But what we’re now going through is likely to shape all of us.

If school is shut down for months, with restrictions on normal business, leisure and Torah life; having seen the beauty of small simchos, and experienced a generally pared-back lifestyle, will we simply press resume on the playlist in a few months’ time? Will we want to?

Whenever hard times strike, Winston Churchill’s “never let a good crisis go to waste” is wheeled out, so I’d like to explore some of these areas including chinuch, simchos and personal growth in a future post.

For now it’s fair to say that while we didn’t ask for the corona challenge, this might be our chance to press reset, and dig deeper for latent greatness.

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