Parshot Festivals

Two coronas, poles apart

  • RabbiAriKievman
COVID-19 has hit our community hard. Too many have felt its impact, and are suffering. The effects of this pandemic aren’t only physiological, but also emotional, financial, and psychological.
by Rabbi Ari Kievman, Sandton Central Shul | Jul 02, 2020

When faced with life’s plagues, we seek direction. Although we can’t control the conditions and severity of the pandemic itself and its side effects, we can choose our response. Even in challenging circumstances we can find opportunity. Let’s engage in some parsha “in-look” to adjust our outlook.

During their journey wandering through the wilderness, our ancestors were attacked by poisonous snakes. In their search for a cure, G-d directed Moshe to sculpt a bronze snake and place it on top of a pole. From then on, anyone who was afflicted by a snake-bite would gaze heavenward upon the serpentine image, and was cured. This was the precursor of the medical profession’s famous logo of the caduceus. (Perhaps it’s a doctor’s hope that their treatment will work as efficiently as the biblical snake-on-the-pole.)

Herein lies a powerful lesson for our bizarre times. The key to healing is to confront suffering. Moshe instructed them to look up to the snake; to see the reality of the snake above, on top of the elevated pole, not the serpent crawling below. In this way, the source of the affliction can become the remedy when we transform dark into light, just as some vaccines are manufactured from minute quantities of the very infectious virus, stimulating the production of antibodies in the blood.

When attacked by “snakes” or any of life’s challenges, we need to look upwards. See it from a higher perspective, and we might find a new sense of healing. The questions can become the answers, the problems may become the solutions, and the venom might contain the cure.

Every experience in life can be seen from a simple earthly perspective, or from a higher, more sublime vantage point, appreciating a much deeper reality. There’s the “snake” down here, and there’s the very same “snake” up there.

Within every crisis lies the possibility of deeper discovery to transcend the challenging reality. When we look back at some of life’s toughest setbacks, in hindsight, we can see how they were a springboard for unforeseen opportunities of growth that moved us from the surface to the depths, discovering strengths we didn’t even know we had.

We can experience the pandemic in terms of its devastation and shattering of so many lives. But we can also perceive it from a more elevated point-of-view. The circumstances may not change, but its meaning and significance does. The “downer” perspective can throw us into despair, yet from the “higher” angle, every challenge contains seeds for rebirth if we infuse them with a higher purpose.

While we take every necessary precaution to mitigate any further transmission of the disease, we pray for the well-being of everyone who needs a refuah sheleima. At the same time, let’s seize the moment, and discover the potential of transforming the serpent below into the copper snake above.


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