The fear of Jacob is reflected in our own. The patriarch realizes how unworthy - in the Hebrew, how "small" - he is (katonti), how ill-equipped to defeat this foe. Ramban finds a prophetic quote to back up this feeling of futility: “How will Jacob survive, as he is so small” (Amos 7:2).
The greatest danger to us as we face this overwhelming third wave of Covid is a sense that we fool ourselves into thinking that we really understand this disease, that we’ve been here before. But we have not. While March and April were bad in the NY area, Americans have never seen the entire country afflicted with such overwhelming force at the same time.
Complacency and Covid fatigue are dangerous, but the gravest danger of all is a false sense of control. Masks and outdoor ventilation are helpful, we now know, but they are not foolproof. Today, in order to protect ourselves, many families will voluntarily stay apart. In the Torah, Jacob shows us that such a decision requires a selfless humility that can help us to confront enemies seen and unseen. Covid may be microscopic and microbial, but we are the ones who are small.
There will not be a full Shabbat-O-Gram next week (though I reserve the right to send you something), so my best wishes for a happy Thanksgivukkah for you and yours (from me and mine)! I close with some quotations on gratitude for your Thanksgiving table - or Zoom table, as the case may be. The word Jew actually means to give thanks. Today we proudly display our Jewish and American identities together by offering our appreciation to God for all of our bounty and blessing
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman
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