Facebook Embed Plug Script

"How Covid-19 Taught Us the Value of Shabbos" - Rabbi Zvi Block

How Covid-19 Taught Us the Value of Shabbos

by Zvi Block, Rabbi Emeritus of Toras Hashem in Valley Village, Los Angeles 
A CEO of a major company was overwrought with stress and pressure from his work. He was full of anxiety and couldn't think straight to make proper decisions. Seeking a break in some manner to relieve his stress and relax he decided to spend the weekend in San Diego at the beach. But he made a big mistake because he took his cellphone with him and was constantly responding to calls. The relentless 9-5 existence, and pressures that we are all subject to, seem to rob and deny us the “luxury” to reflect on our lives, re-set our priorities, recharge our batteries. Can this unprecedented phenomenon of Covid-19, and the forced moratorium on “life as usual,” that it has imposed, provide an unforeseen benefit with a new insight into the value of Shabbos observance?

The average Jewish person who has his fair share of stress and anxiety, needs a break as well. While he can't afford a weekend in San Diego, he does have a Shabbos without his cellphone and a path to relieve stress very well. By observing the restrictions of Shabbos we liberate ourselves from the tyranny of the urgent and throw off the shackles that modern technology has latched onto us. For the last several weeks we haven't been running around as much and have been restricted from working, shopping, traveling, and entertainment venues. Sounds like Shabbos doesn't it? Guess what, most of us have adjusted quite well. Moreover, we have tasted the blessings and benefits of Shabbos at the same time. The family is home more often, we sit down to meals together, and we are finding creative ways to get along with each other. We are also finding the blessings of simplicity such as fresh air, blue skies, and green trees. While we are connecting with each other and our neighbors, we're also discovering Hashem and His gifts that form our world. Is this not “Shabbos?”

The Gemora teaches that Hashem told Moshe that I have treasured gift in my treasure house and it's name is Shabbos. I wish to give this to the Jewish people. The Gemora further teaches that once there was a princess who came to a rabbi's house for dinner. She remarked how tasty the food was. She commented that “there must be a special spice in this food; where did you get it from and how distant is the land you got if from?” The rabbi replied, “It's not distant at all, it's called Shabbos and it doesn't cost anything. All you have to do is observe the day and it's yours.”

The imperative correlation between Shabbos observance and the delights and serenity of Shabbos is compelling. The ethical message is implemented in the form of practical halachic observance. To truly experience the joys of Shabbos we need to accept upon ourselves a quarantine of 39 forbidden labors. Get rid of the cellphone, the air-polluting car, the idiot box that fills our heads with depressing misinformed news and entertainment of questionable moral worth. Instead fill yourself with values of family, education, discipline and spirituality. Quarantine is not a popular word these days, in fact the human spirit might reject such an imposition. Truth is, that it is particularly the restrictions of Shabbos that allow its beauty and sanctity to emerge.

In the most benevolent way possible, our Creator “quarantines” us once a week. The Talmudic passage that refers to Shabbos as a gift directs the Jew to acknowledge this gift and to use it properly. In doing so, not only is the Jew quarantining himself from pernicious elements and distractions from truth, but he is also receiving an all encompassing embrace from Hashem. The Master Physician, has prescribed a potion to keep us happy, healthy and holy. Give that weekly quarantine a try on Friday night and throughout the Shabbos and you just may find how liberating it can be! Maybe this is Hashem's message from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Why to appreciate the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli governance

Former Israel UN Amb. Dore Gold authored "The Fight for Jerusalem"
In The Fight for Jerusalem, bestselling author and former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold explained why radical Islamists seek to divide and conquer Jerusalem and raze sites holy for Christians, Jews, and Muslims. With the United Nations untrustworthy and global jihad making waves, the city is a ticking time bomb. Amb. Gold shows why only Israel can preserve its sanctuaries for different religions and why uncovering Jerusalem's past and biblical truths prove crucial to saving it.

Excerpt from “The Fight for Jerusalem” in David Suissa's Opinion article in the Jewish Journal
“After seizing East Jerusalem in 1948, Jordan’s Arab Legion completely evicted the Jewish population from the Old City. The Jewish Quarter was set aflame, its homes were looted, and dozens of synagogues were destroyed or vandalized. Tombstones from the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives were converted into latrines.

“For the following nineteen years, Jews were prevented from praying at their holy sites, including the Western Wall. The Jordanians also barred Christian institutions from buying land and otherwise restricted the rights of Jerusalem’s Christian population, which dropped by over 50 percent during the period of Jordanian rule.”

Now compare those 19 years to what followed: “Upon capturing the Old City in 1967, Israel decided on a new approach to governing the city — it adopted a law protecting the holy sites of all religions and guaranteeing their free access to all worshippers.”

In other words, the Jewish connection to Jerusalem is not just good for the Jews, it’s good for the whole world. Ambassador Gold, who leads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, addressed the subject in this 2007 talk at Nessah Synagogue in Los Angeles.

Mr. Gold was subsequently selected as political adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in December 2013.