The Moshgiach from the yeshiva I learned in, in Yerushaliyim, gave his weekly schmooze last night.
He brought in the famous parable of a king who had a beautiful garden that he used to go and relax in every day. Once, he needed to travel out of town, and he left the garden in the hands of a few of his servants. His servants, not being the most competent servants, did not care for the garden properly and let it rot away.
When the king came back, he looked in dismay at what was left and decided that he would have to raze everything and build it from scratch. As he was going through what remained of the garden, he saw in the rubble, a small rose, still alive and healthy. He decided on the spot, that for the sake of this rose, he will not raze the garden, but rather repair it.
The parable is clear. The king is Hashem, the garden is the world, the servants are those running the world, and the rose is the Jewish nation.
He continued and said that many people ask how is it possible that despite everything Pharaoh saw, how is it that he continued for more than 10 plagues to fight against Hashem? His entire world was falling apart around him, yet he refused to stand down and rather tear it down.
We see that question being played out today.
We are living in a world of complete and utter craziness. Many thought that Covid was going to be a game-changer, but we see, that Covid is nothing compared to what human beings are continuing to bring upon themselves.
We are in a time where justice is perverse. Where criminals are sainted and police officers who are in violent situations are prosecuted for murder even before an investigation is launched. Where communities are calling for the defunding of police while murder rates rise. We are living in a time where things like chess are questionable because "why does white always go first?" We are in a world where thugs can take over entire areas of cities, and the politicians and media, play down or even sympathize with these criminals. Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant are targets for being racist, and makeup companies refuse to use terms like "whitener" or "light". There have been people, who have been victims of crime, who've had guns put to their heads, or have seen criminal acts in progress, who proudly wrote that they did not call the police, because they did could not blame the perpetrator, and did not want harm to befall them.
One of the signs of "birth pangs of Moshiach" is an upside-down world, he said, and we are most certainly living in such a world.
However, we too are affected by nonsense. He said, when it comes down to taking headache medicine, we have no qualms and take it. However, when it comes down to wearing masks in public, social distancing, and other things that our doctors (and rabbeim) are telling us to do… well… suddenly we become professors and know better. Around the world, we are seeing an upwards trend of infections, and while the numbers do favour the young, they certainly do not favour the old. And yet… to follow such things or to at least do ones best… we can't be bothered, because all of a suddenly we know better. You don't need to be a big professor to understand such simple logic of why you should follow these rules… just learn history. Learn from the Spanish Flu and how different cities with different rules fared. But alas… what doctors and rabbeim say do not matter. The lives of others who are more at risk than yours is not as important as your convenience.
He continued and brought in a story of the Brisker Rav who was walking with somebody in the street. He stopped when he saw some children playing and asked, "Why is it that children always seem happy?"
His companion guessed, "Perhaps because they have no worries"?
"Of course they have worries! But their worries don't seem important to us, but they are certainly important to them! The reason that they seem happy is because Hashem made a beautiful world, and they are still pure enough to recognize that fact and see it".
Hashem made a beautiful world for us and look what mankind has done to it. Look where our 'greatness' has led us. Yes, we have amazing technology and medicine, but what has become of the person?
It is specifically during this time, even when we ourselves are under pressure, between Covid, the world falling apart, and 'regular' life, that we need to cling to the Torah. The rest of the world is falling apart, because THEY make up what is right and what is wrong. But we have the Torah which TELLS us what is right and what is wrong.
If we start to let go, we too will follow down the path of foolishness and destruction, where justice is cruelty and cruelty is justice. But when we learn and follow halacha and Torah, when we learn what is really right and what is really wrong, we, the remnants of the Kings garden, will continue to thrive.
I wish you all a wonderful Shabbos!