5 Nissan 5780
March 30, 2020
Lev Emes: The Heart of Truth
“Let us reason together.”
– Isaiah 1:18, JPS 1917 Tanach
Three days after Purim, a national emergency was declared in the United States in response to the growing threat of the Corona virus. Two weeks later, the U.S. had the highest number of cases out of all other countries in the world, surpassing both China and Italy. This is a plague that is spreading exponentially, despite any false hope being instilled by those who are too optimistic; it is a false optimism. In the time of the first Temple period in Israel there were many institutional prophets who were favored by the king; yet, they only prophesied what sounded good for the benefit of Israel. The true prophets, like Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel spoke the the unadulterated truths that the king and the people did not want to hear. The prophets of the king’s court were false in their words. “The prophets prophesy in the service of falsehood” (Jeremiah 5:3). The verse continues, “what then will you do in the end thereof?”
When optimism prevails over the factual evidence of science in the battle against the Corona virus, a false hope ensues. Yet, as the Bible shows, people would rather hear good news that is false, than bad news that is true. In the time of Isaiah, Israel was warned of the dire consequences of their sinful ways, inasmuch that Jerusalem’s destruction was at hand; yet, the people refused to listen. It is important to learn from the mistakes of our ancestors. Theirs and our optimism must be viewed as a human failure to be realistic in the face of danger. They, as well as us would much rather go on with our normal lives as much as possible, without concern for the immediate consequences, that will ensue as a result of our irresponsibility.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. What will be the end thereof, when there is no end in sight in the immediate future? A Corona virus study and report from the Imperial College in London predicts that a twelve to eighteen month lockdown may be necessary, dependent on finding a vaccine. Until that time, serious restrictive measures would need to remain in place, in order to diminish the spread of the virus. Various news sources have made reference to this study, noting that both the U.K. and the U.S. are basing their policies on this report. “Optimistic projections about life returning to normal and the economy getting back on track appear to be unrealistic in light of this model” (Times of Israel). We are in this for the long haul, and should be buckling up for a roller coaster ride that will be no source of amusement.