Israel, Coronavirus & the Sanctity of Life

The Talmud teaches us: “He who saves the life of one soul – it is as if he saved the world entire.” This is exactly how Israel is dealing with the global health crisis humanity is facing. The Israeli Government is not making any political or economic calculations. Israel’s assertive and proactive measures are being imitated by many countries around the world.

If you follow the pattern, then you realize that here in America, virtually almost the same measures which Israel enacts, are being emulated here in America half a week later. And here is the amazing and blissful fact – not a single person died in Israel from the Coronavirus thus far.

Just like when it comes to the war on terror, Israel is a world leader, and many other countries are learning from her, and emulating its wise and proactive ways. The underlying reason for which Israel excels during this crisis is the cardinal Jewish value of the “sanctity of life.” The sanctity of life trumps all other values and considerations in Judaism.

It is at times like these, when I see the creativity, genius, audacity, vision, and moral and scientific grandeur of the Jewish spirit and Jewish genius, that I am particularly proud to be a Jew and an Israeli. When Albert Einstein was asked what are the things that make him particularly proud to be a member of God’s eternal people, Einstein answered by mentioning our people’s love of learning, our almost fanatical love of justice, and our desire for personal independence. Personal independence is akin to what philosopher Thoreau called “Self-Reliance.” Israel is a self-reliant entity. It doesn’t look left or right to imitate what other countries are doing, or desisting from doing. It leads its citizens autonomously, by way of compass, and by way of conscience. For what Pericles said of the Athenians, has long been true with regard to the People of Israel, namely that “we do not imitate, but rather – we are a model to others!”

Shabbat Shalom, and please G-d, do stay safe, responsible and healthy.
Warmly yours, with best wishes for good health,
Rabbi Tal Sessler

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