Dear Rabbi

In these trying times I am desperately looking for some comfort and some words of encouragement. So many people have taken ill and others have their livelihood threatened. I feel like many are struggling with their faith, some may be angry at G-d and questioning everything. You always seem to find something uplifting to say, so please share with me and your readers here as well. Thanking you in advance.


Dear Brian

Rabbi Aryeh Levine, otherwise known as the Tzadik of Yerushalayim used to visit the prisons on Chol Hammoed Pesach and once asked: “What did you guys do for Seder?” And they said, “We were able to do everything. Everything was provided for us. We had matza and wine and charoises and morror. We had hagodois and we were able to sit and discuss the Exodus. We did everything.” So Reb Aryeh said, “That’s amazing! How fortunate you are!” And they said, “Yes but there’s only one thing we couldn’t do. Only one thing. When it came to Shfoich Chamoscho – that special section when we are supposed to open the door for Elijah the Prophet – well, we couldn’t exactly open the door.” Said Reb Aryeh to them: “You’re making a mistake. You just need to make a small opening in your own heart and everything can come pouring in.”

G-d says, “Open for Me even the small needle hole in your heart and I will open for you an opening like the doorways of a banqueting hall.” Why a needle? Why not, “make a small hole in the wall and I will make a giant door opening?” Because a needle is used for sewing threads together. Whether a student on campus in London, a man in the backwaters of South Africa, a woman in Brazil or a prisoner in an Israeli jail, – they are all threads sewn together into the same fabric as the rest of us.

We are all spending all of our times confined to our own homes. It’s surreal, it’s unprecedented, but it also provides for a unique opportunity. Having officiated at a couple of funerals this past week, just a sprinkle of us standing in the outdoors, I thought, “so this is what it was like in the shtetl, in Communist Russia, during the Holocaust.” The things we take for granted!

You’re upset with G-d right now? I get it. And guess what? He gets it too. You want to challenge Him and ask Him, “why?” By all means do so! Didn’t Moses after all do the same in the Pesach story when he asked, “Why are you letting evil befall the people!”

Eli Weisel, who lost so much during the Holocaust once asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who himself had lost much family: “How can you continue believing in G-d right now?” To which the Rebbe replied: “In whom do you want me to believe in, man?”

A powerful and compelling statement. But to be frank, that was then and this is now. I have never believed in man more so than the present. Look at the power of the human spirit. Look at all those on the front line, endless hours exposing themselves, treating the ill, the infirm.

Look at the sea of volunteers, countless grouping together to help others, doing shopping, delivering food, even just checking and calling on one another. If you’re struggling right now with your faith in G-d at least have some faith in humanity.

Faith is not a pill we swallow but a muscle we use. There is a large reservoir of faith contained within every human being. It may lie deep at the core of our inner selves and it may take more than once before accessing it, but somehow we manage to release it when having to compete in the marathon of life. It grants us the strength to face any challenge and the determination to keep us in the race when all seems lost.

It is my fervent wish and prayer that all those who are unwell merit a speedy recovery, all those who are suffering in any other way should experience a personal salvation and as indeed we say in the V’he Sheamda song on Seder night: “And the Almighty saved us from their hands.” G-d saved us in the past and please G-d He will save us once more. May we see that salvation imminently for all mankind.