Hidden Opportunities by Michael Winner/5/8/2020 Despite everything that has been going on, my wife and I have realized that for us, we received a bit of a gift from Hashem. Yes, we’ve lost some income, several friends or acquaintances have been sick, whether at home or in the hospital, we even know of a few deaths, our kids have been at home, barely getting out for two months, no minyanim, no kollel, and more "family time." However, when looking over our personal situation, I feel that we’ve been given some time to make something of this period. Now, we don’t live stressful lives like an emergency room doctor, special-forces operator, president of a company, etc., but, our time is full. Between our commitment to kollel, work, raising a family, and all the appointments each child needs, along with the decision-making that goes on, like many families, we have little to no “downtime." But, that’s fine by me (not my wife, but me). However, for us, the toughest things are dealing with people. Specifically, dealing with people who we know are not being so honest with us, or being incompetent in their jobs, or dealing with bureaucracy which is everywhere (which combines dishonest, incompetent, people). Even going to minyan, and having to wait for Mr. Eight, Nine, and Ten, who regularly show up late, puts wear and tear on me. But now? There is no minyan. No kollel. No appointments. No chance of doing many things that needed to be done, but which cannot be done now. A certain weight has been lifted off of us. It goes even deeper than that. How much of our lives, specifically our spiritual lives, are connected to the community around us? How we dress, how we act, how we behave, when and how we show up to minyan, how we daven, how we learn, what we do with our free time, etc. Many of those things are affected, both positively and negatively by the community around us. Even the positive things, such as how we daven. For example, we might show up to minyan on time, only because it would be an embarrassment to show up late. Maybe we daven well there, but that’s because there is an "atmosphere." Certainly, these are positive things, even if they are based on external factors. And of course, there are negative things that affect us. Sometimes the women of the community do not have high standards when it comes to modesty, which pressures other-wise modest women to "dress-down." If there is talking in shul, even those who are careful, will begin to slip. But now…all that is gone or very limited. Now, it’s just us and Hashem. Some see this as a test, but I look at this as a gift. For many of us, we now have more time to daven. We can approach davening in a relaxed manner, rather than rushing to minyan. We don’t have to show up at 1:30 p.m. for mincha, it can be 1:33 p.m. An extra 3 minutes to take care of the kids and not rush to daven? No big deal! Our mode of conduct is no longer connected to the community-at-large. Nor is it connected to our responsibility to the community-at-large. Now, it’s all on how we relate to Hashem. We have more time on our hands, we have fewer external stresses (not in some ways of course). We don’t have to be put down by other people, nor do we have to be raised by them. We have a limited (hopefully!) period of time where we can work on certain areas of life that will build our personal connection with Hashem, not out of communal responsibility, but rather one of true desire. Have a wonderful Shabbos!