Opinion: Coronavirus doesn’t only force us to hunker down at home and stock up on toilet paper, it exposes issues we have long suppressed in the endless rat race of life, offering us a chance to really think about what we expect from one another

As I was taking a jog around the 100-meter perimeter permitted to me by the Health Ministry, I came across a billboard plastered on a wall of a newly opened gym.

“Last places left, sign up fast,” it read.

That advertisement brought home to me the reality that has been forced upon us during this plague.

The various sales signs – tempting us to enter stores and buy brands that we don’t really need – have been left with no one to see them. Maybe some good might come up from this lockdown in the shape of a new way of behaving for us all; a reality in which we only buy what we absolutely need.

לוחמי הצנחנים וחטיבת הקומנדו מחלקים מנות מזון בבני ברק
An IDF soldiers distribute food in Bnei Brak, one of the cities hardest hit by coronavirus (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)


Coronavirus doesn’t only force us to hunker down at home and stock up on toilet paper and food, but also other reveals things we have long suppressed in the endless rat race of life. It has offered us introspection – really trying to look at ourselves, our relationships and what we expect from one another.

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook said that the concept of liberty – the very symbol of Passover – demands of people to not only make the distinction between slavery and freedom, but go deeper, beyond the obvious, and judge reality from an ethical perspective.

High above, on the new construction sites dotting the streets where I run, Arab laborers are still at work.

Anyone doubting the legitimate demands for equal rights from Israel’s Arabs, who make up 20% of population, should go out into the streets in the early morning and listen to the doctors and nurses fighting for the lives of Jewish patients. Perhaps then they will be convinced that the time for equality has come.

Yet on hanging at that same construction site is a giant – now meaningless – Likud poster showing Blue & White leader Benny Gantz and Arab MK Ahmad Tibi and emblazoned with the claim: “Gantz went with Joint List.”

What can be done about Gantz, who was sucked into a government with Benjamin Netanyahu and discarded the Joint List lawmakers who backed him for prime minister?

שלט בחירות 2020 שלטי חוצות הליכוד בנימין נתניהו נגד כחול לבן בני גנץ ו אחמד טיבי ב באר שבע
A Likud election poster is seen in Be’er Sheva ahead of the March 2 election showing Benny Gantz and Ahmad Tibi (Photo: AFP)


There’s no way of knowing how our lives will look after the virus goes away. For now, we are collecting experiences that will greatly influence our future.

Binyamin Zomer, Nobel Energy’s vice president, told me that over the past few days he has attended a funeral, a wedding, a bar mitzvah and crowded conference meetings – all on Zoom video conferencing.

These are the days of binge-watching documentaries. In a program dedicated to him, Pope Francis says that one of the worst things to happen to humanity over the past decade is the disappearance of human closeness, which has been replaced by technology that pushes us further apart.

ליל הסדר בבתי החולים
Medical professionals on a coronavirus ward at an Israeli hospital prepare to celebrate the first night of Passover (Photo: Health Ministry)


This year we read the Haggadah in separate homes, I sitting alone at my table while my children and grandchildren celebrate the holiday elsewhere. My wife Rachela passed away two years ago.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who was childless, used to have Seder with his wife. When she died after 60 years of marriage, the rebbe had Seder alone, reading the Haggadah to himself.

He was alone, but not lonely.

As reported by Ynetnews