As our lives are interrupted by a deadly virus, we will keep posting deals to keep everyone’s shelves stocked without needing to leave the house. However as I’ve been doing in the past, I’ll also be keeping readers updated with coronavirus coverage as it disrupts our normal daily routine.
I’ve been keeping tabs on the stories below since the last COVID-19 news roundup, so some may be slightly out of date. But I hope you find them interesting and am looking forward to healthy discussion about them in the comments!
Among all the craziness, let’s take a moment to focus on and be thankful for our health and family. Please stay safe, stay home, and use a mask when you need to go out!
Table of Contents
Obvious News Is Obvious: China Lied, People Died; But Does It Go Much Deeper Than That?
US intelligence has concluded that China lied about the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths that it had. That report is classified, but it’s something that many of us suspected all along.
China officially reported just 81,556 cases and 3,312 deaths. The US already has 321,167 cases and 9,107 deaths.
Unfortunately most of the world relied on China’s data and didn’t prepare for what was coming.
The virus originated in Wuhan. The official thought is that it made the leap from a bat to a human in a Wuhan wet market. Those markets still operate and they are breeding grounds for animal viruses.
The Washington Post is now giving more credence to those theories by calling the origin story murky. The Wuhan wet market didn’t actually have bats for sale that time of year. The Wuhan lab where they studied bat coronaviruses was just a few hundred yards from the wet market. Chinese studies of the novel coronavirus starting in and leaking from the Wuhan lab were published and then mysteriously withdrawn.
Did China cover up an accidental leak of the novel coronavirus?
That comes after China blocked all discussion of the coronavirus for months and allowed millions of people to flee Wuhan, spreading the pandemic to the entire planet. Had the pandemic been properly disclosed and contained, tens of thousands of lives as well as the world economy could have been saved. Whistleblowers like Dr. Li were punished for speaking out about the existence of a new coronavirus in December. He died of coronavirus at the age of just 33, leaving behind a child and a pregnant wife.
Based on cremation photos from Wuhan, it appears that tens of thousands died there alone.
The UK government is furious with China and thinks they had 40 times the number of cases that they reported, up to 3,200,000+ cases. They’re looking into retaliation, such as abandoning their deal to have Huawei install a 5G network in the UK.
Uglier yet, Italy donated PPE to China during their time of need, but China is charging Italy just to get their PPE back. And countries like Spain are returning Chinese coronavirus tests as they are only 30% accurate.
This is not China’s finest hour.
Will countries hold China accountable?
China Made A Holocaust Comparison When Israel Closed Their Borders, Now China Has Closed Their Own Borders
Just 2 months ago China lashed out against countries like Israel and US when they closed their borders to people who had been to mainland China.
It was a controversial move at the time and the President was slammed for doing it:
We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 1, 2020
But Dr. Fauci says that the ban worked and it slowed the spread of coronavirus to countries that implemented the bans.
Alas while other countries, starting with Israel, banned all foreigners, the US never went that far. And it seems like we’re paying the price for that now.
China demanded that countries keep their borders open to them, as they told countries that there was no reason for concern.
So much for that.
In an ironic twist, China has banned all foreigners from entering their country, in an effort to avoid a coronavirus rebound.
Do as I say, not as I do?
PSA: Stay Home For Pesach, Don’t Have Guests For The Seder, Don’t Bring The Barber Into Your House
A PSA from the Vaad HaRabbonim in Cleveland:
On DDF there are reports of people hiring a barber to come to their house to give a haircut before Pesach.
I’m not sure why this needs to be said, but it’s absurd to risk lives for a haircut!
If you have a haircut machine you can use that and rest assured that a couple weeks heals the worst haircut.
If you don’t, then just #LetItGrow. Lives are worth more than a haircut.
Bill Gates Predicted All Of This, Urges Nationwide Shutdown, Stepping Up To Build Vaccine Factories Now
Bill Gates warned the world 5 years ago that the greatest risk of global catastrophe was a virus, not a war:
Sadly, we were caught unprepared.
Mr. Gates did a Reddit AMA recently, a transcript of which is here.
But Mr. Gates is not just telling us things, he’s putting his money where his mouth is.
He will build 7 factories for the leading vaccine researchers. And he’s doing it now.
Bill Gates is setting up factories to manufacture 7 leading vaccine candidates before we know which is best & safest; we can test the vaccines in parallel, and then throw away all but the factory for the best vaccine. May save many months.
Just extraordinary. pic.twitter.com/JGjkJ6FKNa
— michael_nielsen (@michael_nielsen) April 4, 2020
Even though it’s likely that just 2 of the factories will be used, building them now will save months of time. He’ll spend a few billion dollars, but will save lives and trillions of dollars for the global economy.
So much for all billionaires being evil.
Robert Kraft Brought Over 1 Million N95 Masks From Shenzhen To Boston On The Patriots’ 767
The WSJ has the great story about how New England Patriots’s billionaire owner Robert Kraft helped bring 1.2 million critical N95 masks from China to the US.
The logistics behind the flight were daunting and the crew were only given permission to spend 3 hours on the ground in China, of which they used 2 hours and 57 minutes.
Now that is one amazing mitzvah!
The Failed US Mission To Build Ventilators
In short, eggs were all put into one basket and the tens of thousands of ventilators for the national stockpile were never delivered.
And now doctors are put into the impossible decision of who will live and who will die.
President Bush tried to prepare us for pandemic in 2005. But it was just never fully implemented:
“If we wait for a pandemic to appear, it will be too late to prepare," President George W. Bush warned in 2005.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) April 5, 2020
Dr. Fauci Is A Breath Of Fresh Air
Dr. Fauci has advised 6 presidents on infectious diseases and he’s a rare reassuring voice in the coronavirus madness.
This interview is a much watch. The good doctor discusses everything from potential lasting immunity to the Chinese and Europe flight restrictions, and from younger Americans having serious reactions to COVID-19 to when to classify a death as one due to COVID-19.
Did Everyone Get The Tissue Paper Shortage Wrong?
People are spending all their time at home, so they need more TP at home. Meanwhile commercial TP doesn’t fit on home dispensers, is uncomfortable to use, and isn’t distributed for home sale.
Hence there is a home TP shortage, but a commercial TP excess.
That’s logical, but the TP shortage began before people started working from home. Plus that doesn’t explain the shortages on all of the other essentials.
There’s certainly some aspect of hoarding going on, but perhaps it’s not all due to hoarding.
I’ve always kept us stocked with essentials thanks to the great Amazon sales there have been over the past year. My nature to stock up on deals is finally paying off.
It Was Illegal To Not Wear A Mask In Parts Of The US During The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic, Why Did We Forget The Lessons?
While many Asian countries took the mask lessons from the US to heart, western countries forgot the lessons over the years.
That means that Taiwan’s response, ramping up mask production and requiring them to be used, has saved thousands of lives.
When everyone wears a mask, the droplets that spread coronavirus are stopped in place. Additionally people don’t touch their face outside their home until they get back and wash their hands.
The US finally updated their guidance on masks on Friday. Cities in the US are starting to require their use. It’s just a shame that President Trump announced that he won’t be following the guidelines as soon as he announced the new guidelines. That unnecessarily divides the country and undermined the recommendation.
The WHO has also changed their recommendations as have other countries. It’s just a shame it took this long.
The US should force companies to make masks en-masse, send them to everyone along with their stimulus checks, and require their usage outside of the home.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Has Been Hospitalized Due To COVID-19
It’s a good reminder that nobody is safe from this pandemic. Perhaps our president will realize that after this news and start wearing a mask himself? It would protect himself and show the nation that these are dangerous times and it’s OK to look foolish to protect your life.
The US Sold Off Cases Of N95 Masks For $2/Each In February
This is what happens when our country is in denial about what’s coming and when agencies don’t talk to each other about what is needed.
Meanwhile our front-line healthcare workers go without proper protection…
Empty Out Your Amenity Kits For Face Masks And Hand Sanitizer
The Twitter universe has discovered that the eye shades found in airline amenity kits can also be used as a face mask:
— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) April 4, 2020
I have boxes full of amenity kits from flying on airlines across the globe, and they also have useful essentials like hand sanitizer, toothpaste, and more. Who knew they would come in handy one day?
The FDA Is Now Allowing KN95 Masks To Be Imported
KN95 masks, the Chinese equivalent of N95 masks, have long been banned for US imports due to concern of fraudulent masks.
But desperate times call for desperate measures, and the FDA is now allowing the import of KN95 masks.
That’s good, but it’s a sad indictment that we need to rely on other countries for our own health safety. Then again that’s true for most of these things we use daily…
Make Your Own Face Mask
Via Cleveland.com, here’s how to make your own homemade face mask:
Mark Cuban Says 3M Is At Fault For The N95 Shortage
He says that he’s constantly getting offers of overpriced N95 respirators from 3M distributors that have marked the price up 1000%.
If 3M would demand distributors sell to healthcare only or if they cut out the distributors they would be able to deliver directly to hospitals without allowing the black market to thrive.
Michael Goldsmith’s Fight For Remdesivir Is Over, But Others May Be Saved By The Fight
Fox News writes about the sad plight of Michael Goldsmith and his wife’s crusade to get him Gilead Sciences’ Remdesivir drug.
I wrote about Michael in this post, but sadly he remains on life support.
Unfortunately, his wife Elana shares that they are standing down in their fight for the drug, considered one of the most promising in the fight against COVID-19. At this point, some 25 days into infection, his doctors agree that’s it’s now too late for the drug to help him.
But the fight wasn’t for naught. Gilead Sciences announced that they will be donating 1.5 million doses of the drug, that can treat 140,000 patients. Gilead will be able to treat 1 million patients by years end.
In the meantime, Elana and Michael aren’t giving up. May he and all COVID-19 victims see a speedy recovery.
Dr. Zelenko Becomes A Right-Wing Star; Elon Musk Builds Ventilators
Dr. Zelenko’s viral videos of treating even mild COVID-19 cases with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc sulfate have been highlighted by the right-wing media.
It’s an odd story. There certainly have been many people that are reporting positive results with hydroxychloroquine to fight COVID-19, but there also also many that have died despite using it. And then there is the man that died from eating it in fish treatment form…
It seems like Elon Musk first made the treatment go viral, though that was probably him compensating for calling the coronavirus panic dumb:
The coronavirus panic is dumb
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 6, 2020
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 17, 2020
Then again when Elon compensates, it’s usually good for humanity:
Dr. Zelenko certainly didn’t intend to have the viral fame, but he became the face of the drug’s promise and hope.
Hopefully it helps cure people without giving false hope.
The Plague Of Wild Animals Has Arrived
As a firstborn son, I’d rather not know which plague is coming next.
Cell Phone Tracking Shows The Impact Of Social Distancing
This video shows how cell phones from a single beach in Fort Lauderdale travel across the country.
It’s a little crazy that this sort of data is out there, but it’s also amazing to see just how fast things can spread.
Want to see the true potential impact of ignoring social distancing? Through a partnership with @xmodesocial, we analyzed secondary locations of anonymized mobile devices that were active at a single Ft. Lauderdale beach during spring break. This is where they went across the US: pic.twitter.com/3A3ePn9Vin
— Tectonix GEO (@TectonixGEO) March 25, 2020
In case anyone needs a reminder of what happens without social distancing, take a look at this article of the choir practice that wasn’t cancelled, with tragic results.
There’s good reason why we all need to stay home.
Monsey Stabbing Victim Josef Neumann Has Passed Away; Will The Media Stop Attacking Orthodox Jews?
It seems like forever, but just a few months ago Jews in New York were subject to several brutal anti-Semitic attacks.
Sadly, the victim of the Chanuka stabbing in Monsey has passed away:
New York is heartbroken by the death of Josef Neumann, who was brutally attacked during a Hanukkah celebration in Monsey three months ago.
This hate-motivated attack shook us to our core.
Any attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.https://t.co/6sx3x9XhrT
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 30, 2020
Unfortunately the media continues to scapegoat Orthodox Jews for not following social distancing. Sure, there are some who aren’t following guidelines, but by and large the community has shut down everything. Pointing out a few violators is no better than pointing out a few violators from any other group. It needlessly causes hate. And we’ve been down this dark road during the black death plague when Jews were said to spread the disease.
I’m so sick of seeing pics of orthodox social distancing rule breakers shared like they prove anything about our community.
Guess what! They’re not the norm! We’re angry at the rule breakers too! And I shouldn’t have to defend our world to you! I will, but I shouldn’t have to!
— Laura E. Adkins (@Laura_E_Adkins) April 5, 2020
Virus hits China: Oy!
Virus hits Korea: Oy!
Virus hits Italy: Oy!
Virus hits France, Switzerland, UK, Washington, Westchester: Oy! Oy! Oy! Oy! Oy!
Virus hits Brooklyn: Well, the thing about the Ultra Orthodox Chassidim is…
— Leibel (@Squilled) March 18, 2020
You all saw that story of the one Jew who was arrested for hoarding masks, disinfectant, and medical supplies, yes?
Did you hear about the Jews that I work for who donated more than 120 oxygen concentrators to medical organizations in NY and NJ costing tens of thousands?
— Leibel (@Squilled) April 5, 2020
Sadly, the holiday of Purim a month ago, seems to have been a time when coronavirus was spread before there were any restrictions announced, so the Orthodox community was hard hit.
But not all journalists lack integrity.
News anchor Kurt Siegelin stirred the pot by accusing Lakewood, NJ schools of being open.
I owe the people of Lakewood an apology.
— Kurt Siegelin (@kurtsiegelin) March 31, 2020
How Much Are People Wallets Hurting Right Now?
This shocking video puts the current US unemployment claims into context. Hopefully we can defeat coronavirus quickly or we’ll be facing a depression.
These are the US unemployment claims in their historical context pic.twitter.com/NJAqPl9BVg
— How Things Work (@ThingsWork) April 3, 2020
A Fire At Fort Myers Airports Destroyed Over 3,500 Cars…Due To Coronavirus?
People aren’t flying and they’re not renting cars.
Thousands of rentals cars at Fort Myers airport have been parked in overflow fields. The cause of the airport fire is unknown, but it destroyed over 3,500 cars that were just parked there due to travel demand that has been sapped due to coronavirus.
Airlines Behaving Badly
The WSJ covers the story of airlines refusing to give refunds for cancelled flights, despite the law requiring it.
US airlines would love it if the US would close airspace, as that would mean they could get away with refusing refunds by blaming it on government regulations.
Airlines like Air France, Delta, El Al, Emirates, Lufthansa, TAP, Turkish, and United are called out for refusing refunds or charging fees for refunds on cancelled flights.
Their advice mirrors what I’ve been preaching for some time now. Never cancel your flights before the day of your flight. Reach out to your airline via phone or social media. File a DoT complaint. Dispute the charge on your card.
Globes also writes about this from the Israeli perspective, where the law also requires refunds within 21 days. El Al has been ignoring that guidance.
Many readers have been able to get refunds since that announcement, so if you have been denied before, now is the time to try again.
Meanwhile the airline industry still doesn’t get it:
We’re deeply disappointed by @USDOT ruling on issuance of vouchers for flight cancellations due to gov’t travel restrictions. This decision risks 750,000 #airline jobs, each of which supports 13 additional jobs in the wider US economy.
— IATA (@IATA) April 4, 2020
They believe that airlines should be able to steal consumer’s money to stay alive. Of course if a customer needs to cancel a flight, airlines keep that money, but the suggestion that airlines should keep the customer’s money without providing is a new low for the airline industry.
Stubhub Behaving Badly
Stubhub is no longer offering refunds for cancelled events. They’re offering a coupon for cancelled events worth 20% more than the cost of their ticket, but the coupon will expire in just 1 year.
Sellers are being charged for tickets sold for cancelled events.
StubHub updated their policy today. Instead of full refunds for canceled events, they changed it to a COUPON worth 20% more than the value of the ticket. As pointed out by @don_shano, this is not only absurd (fans deserve their $ back), it’s unethical and likely illegal. pic.twitter.com/onFRrGVh6S
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 28, 2020
Amazon Prime Day Will Be Delayed
Amazon has had Prime Day sales in July since 2015. However with coronavirus slowing shipping times down sitewide, it’s no surprise to see Prime Day delayed.
The real question will be if Amazon is able to have a Prime Day this year at all. Amazon is expecting a hit of hundreds of millions of dollars by delaying Prime Day, but losing Prime Day will cost the company billions.
Real-ID Is Delayed, Again
I stopped writing about Real-ID years ago. Having an ID that proved residency was a 9/11 recommendation and was passed back in 2005, but has been delayed time and time again.
It was allegedly going to go into effect on 10/1/20 and the TSA has been warning us about upgrading to a compliant ID card in order to fly, but it will be pushed back until 10/1/21 due to coronavirus.
Wake me up when it’s actually required.
Trapped In Russia
Russia closed their borders, trapping passengers that were in transit.
Passengers on the last flight to the US were told their flight was cancelled and removed from the plane. Chaos erupted.
The US Embassy says…try to get to Finland. Or hope that Russia will allow another flight out.
Trapped In The Maldives
The NY Times has the story of a honeymooning South African couple that is “trapped” in a 5 star resort in the Maldives. (Disclaimer: Non-tznius pictures)
They have the entire island to themselves and the entire staff doting to their every need.
If I had to pick a place to be trapped right now, the Maldives would be at the top of the list.
But it’s not all roses. They may have an entire resort to themselves, but they still need to pay for their room! They’re getting a discount, but Maldivian resorts still cost a small fortune.
That’s the price you pay for paradise and living the dream though I suppose.
Trapped At Sea
I don’t have much sympathy for anyone that boarded a cruise ship after the horrific story of the Diamond Princess came out.
Cruises can be fraught with virus risks in the best of times and are not where you want to be during a global pandemic.
Many fly flags from various Caribbean ports in order to avoid paying federal taxes and minimum wage. Funny how they still demand the US take the ships and ask for bailouts in their times of need.
Maybe flying the US flag and paying taxes would be a good future investment for cruise ships?
Trapped In Antarctica
Antarctica is the only continent that isn’t being ravaged by coronavirus, so there are certainly worse places to be stuck!
My days in Antarctica were some of the most memorable of my life. But that being said, I’m sure happy that our Antarctica cruise isn’t going on now!
With Flying Down 95 Percent, Passengers Are Finding Themselves Flying Solo
Passengers are getting the memo that they need to stay home and passenger numbers are down by 95%:
BREAKING NEWS: On Thursday, 124,021 individuals were screened at @TSA checkpoints nationwide. It's a new record low for the past 10 years. Exactly one year ago, 2,411,500 people went through security checkpoints. Each day for the past two weeks has seen a new record low.
— TSAmedia_LisaF (@TSAmedia_LisaF) April 3, 2020
That means that passengers that do have to fly are getting entire planes to themselves:
Air New Zealand reported having an average of less than 2 passengers per flight, crazy!
Some stark stats that underpin why changing our @FlyAirNZ schedule was imperative. Thurs- we had 89 scheduled flights, we carried 165 pax. Averages suggest distancing at 10 metres wasn’t an issue. I think usually say these number are commercially sensitive, not now! @andykirton
— Cam Wallace (@CamWallace_NZ) April 2, 2020
As tempting as it is to get a plane ride to myself though, I’m staying put at home. The cost of a ticket may be just $10 across the country, but that’s still not tempting enough to risk my life and the life of others.
The New Airport Codes
OK, I got a kick out of these! Who knows when we’ll travel safely again, so suggest your own codes in the comments!
Newest airport codes for our current travels.
LVG – living room
DNR – dining room
BTH – Bathroom
BKY – back yard
MBR – master bed room
OFC – office
WNC – wine celler
What other places are in your current plans?
— Anna Harrison (@ABananaRambling) March 29, 2020
The Inspiring Emirates Ad And The Emirates Parking Lot
Emirates released an inspiring ad about how we’ll look back at COVID-19:
In the meantime, planes are parked across the world, but it’s still amazing to see a video of them:
Emirates parking lot at DWC. Plenty of 777 & 380s. This video was forwarded to me, it's not mine. If it's yours let me know for credit etc. pic.twitter.com/7X9iCcMurS
— Doug Sommerville (@belowmda) March 27, 2020
Virgin Australia And Singapore Stop Allowing Mileage Transfers To Each Other
As noted here, you can normally transfer miles between Singapore and Virgin Australia and vice versa. The 1.55:1 ratio isn’t great, but has some decent potential.
Unfortunately airlines are in cost-cutting mode and mileage transfers have been suspended for the time being.
Flying Blue Promo Awards Suspended
Air France and KLM offer some exceptional mileage deals on a rotating monthly basis.
Virgin Australia Says Goodbye…And Donates Their Toilet Paper
A Virgin Australia flight attendant gives a tearful goodbye on a final flight:
And the airline rounded up all of their toilet paper to donate to those in need. Weird times when toilet paper is an airline’s most valuable asset 😉
Marriott #Bonvoyed Their Ambassadors
If you spend $20,000 annually and 100 nights in Marriott hotels…I feel very sorry for you indeed 😉
But on a serious note, those members get Ambassador Elite status, which is the same thing as Titanium elite status along with a rarely available 24 hour checkin program and a private ambassador.
Marriott has laid off most ambassadors and members may no longer have their own private ambassador. The value of an ambassador veries highly, so if you have a good one, that’s a big sting and a big reason people strive for that level.
Good luck asking Marriott for a refund of money spent chasing down that status 😀
Here’s what Marriott sent to their Ambassador elites,
“As an Ambassador Elite member, you are among our most loyal and valued members. As such, I wanted to reach out personally to keep you updated on the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on our company and our program. You may have seen a message from our CEO, Arne Sorenson, in which he shared his thoughts about how much our hearts and thoughts go out to the people who have been affected by this unprecedented event, and how much we appreciate the healthcare workers, local communities, and governments around the world that are on the front line working to contain this coronavirus. I hope you and your family are taking precautions and remain healthy.
Today, governments around the world are making decisions to halt nonessential business activity, and many of our Ambassadors work from contact centers around the globe that have been required to close. As a result, we have adapted the way we deliver the Ambassador Service to you, while enabling us to protect the health and safety of our associates worldwide.
As we continue to react to the unfolding situation, your personal Ambassador may not be available to assist you directly. To preserve the level of service we strive to deliver to Ambassador Elite members, we have engaged our global Ambassador Service team to respond to and address your needs, just as we do after-hours when your personal Ambassador is not working. This approach will help us ensure you get the timeliest response to any travel needs you may have.
We know many of you will miss the one-on-one relationship you may have built or were looking forward to building with your Ambassador this year. While this decision was necessitated by the fight against COVID-19, please know we are committed to returning to business-as-usual when it is safe to do so and permitted by governments. Expect to hear from us again soon, with news about program updates, including 2020 Elite status requirements.
Whether you are traveling now or in the future, I want you to know that your safety, as well as that of our associates, is a top priority. Despite these current hardships, our Ambassador team around the world is waiting to serve you.”
Marriott #Bonvoyed Their Insider Forums
Marriott has long run an Insiders forum where guests shared tip and trip reports.
Marriott announced that they will close the forums immediately and offered a Facebook group as an alternative. A facebook group doesn’t have any of the useful functions of a forum to keep conversations organized.
It’s not surprising that at a time when employees are being laid off that the forums got the axe. But is it too much to ask for more notice? Or for Marriott to not delete the entire forum archive from the past decade as of July 1st?
A Brooklyn Landlord Just Cancelled April Rent
There are many amazing stories like this that lift our spirits, but they don’t get the news coverage they deserve. Share the stories you know of in the comments!
Heartwarming Jewish Music Videos
Can’t help but shed a tear watching these. But times will be better soon!
Words Of Chizuk From The Sanzer Rebbe in Netanya, Israel
I also love these remarks that were shared on DDF here:
“It’s important to contemplate that just as this virus cannot be seen by our eyes and yet it has the power to transform the whole world, so too the Almighty is not seen but runs the whole world.
While you might say that with the right instruments one can see the virus, you should know that if you have the right “instruments” you can also “see” the Almighty. Those instruments can be accessed – as is mentioned in many works and throughout chassidic literature – through deep connection to Torah….
It is forbidden to say about anything – certainly about something so major – that it is just a random event. We must attempt to ponder: Why did Hashem bring this upon us?
Some think they are able to find causes and assign blame. However, the teaching I received from my sainted father – which is one of the fundamental teachings of Chassidus – is that we are not to look at the deficiencies of others.
It is not the desecration of Shabbos that’s to blame – nor any other sin that other people may have transgressed. We must especially refrain from finding fault during a time when we are supposed to awaken Heavenly mercy. G-d forbid, we should not arouse negative judgment against the Jewish people. We should only speak in their defense.
Instead, at such a time, everyone should look at himself: What can I improve about myself and my avodah for me and all of Klal Yisrael? Let them look at where they can improve in Torah, tefillah, and, most of all, in the way they treat other people.
People are frightened and stressed, and naturally they feel pressured and may tend to lose patience at home and outside. In this situation, when the children are at home – everyone is at home – along with the pressure of Pesach and all its preparations, which yields its own stresses, the primary behavior that we must accept upon ourselves is to be joyful and filled with simcha. To exude calm, to be peaceful with the children, to spend time with the children – the boys and the girls – even more than usual.
I must state – and this is the primary message I want to get across – that although righteous women have been accustomed to devoting all their energy to preparing the house for Passover, this year must be different. I have a tradition that I received many times from my sainted father, z”l, that Pesach was not intended for making the house new once again or to do “spring cleaning” of all kinds of dirt that may have accumulated.
What is required for Pesach is only removing chametz, and according to halacha, nullification [i.e., Kol Chamira] is sufficient. In fact, my father recounted that in the home of his grandfather – the Bnei Yissachar – they would clean the house on the night before Pesach as they searched for chametz, and that was the entirety of the “Pesach cleaning.”
Furthermore, my father himself instructed his children when they had small children of their own to take care of that the mothers shouldn’t go beyond the basic obligation of cleaning at the expense of caring for the children and should not turn the house over to make it clean.
The evil inclination is ready to bring into your home pressure, stress, and irritation about the children – and to cause tension between husband and wife – trying to convince them that “this is necessary in order to make Pesach.” One needs to know that one point of anger – one moment of stress – is far worse than having chametz in the home!
It is our duty – that of parents and righteous women – to ensure calm in the home. Pesach will be kosher with doing less. Do as much as you can calmly with no stress – and nothing more.
Place far more focus on the mitzvah of “You shall tell your son.” Make sure the children grow positively in their spiritual and material needs. Be careful that they come to no harm during these weeks….
What is wanted from us now from heaven – and Jews just want to do the will of G-d – is for our homes to be islands of calm and happiness. G-d is leading in the way that He is right now; let us gladly accept His will with joy and without any angry fights and shouting.
Let us maintain calm and avoid aggravation and not be stringent when it is not necessary, while at the same time not be lenient with what is truly forbidden.
Of course, it is important not to transgress the prohibition against bitul Torah and one should use their learning time productively, but most of the learning should be with the children – as the Torah states, “And you shall teach it to your sons.”… Prepare them for Pesach.
Let us yearn to bring – even this year – the Korban Pesach. If one can, one should study the halachot of Korban Pesach. But what is most important is to engage in chessed – to do what we can to help others. At times like this, when there are many homes that are having difficulties, it is up to us to help with whatever possible. Older girls can help neighbors or the elderly….
My message to children and young men is to be very careful – especially in these days when the challenge is greater – to respect their parents, which is such an essential Torah command….
Unfortunately, there are many who are ill, and if illness can be prevented by adhering to the government guidelines, they should not be underestimated. The dictum of the Torah “You shall be very protective of your life” has no limit. We desecrate Shabbos and Yom Kippur even if there is a small chance that a life may be in danger. And it is even more important to be careful to avoid harming others than to avoid harming oneself….
Of course, one should add a few chapters of Tehillim to one’s prayers and ask of G-d “mena magayfa minachalasecha – prevent a plague from your inheritance.”… We should endeavor to instill in our sons and daughters a deep confidence in Hashem, as Hashem is the Protector of Israel. Encourage and embolden them; help them appreciate the concept of doing kindness with others, both spiritually and physically.
If we do this, may we merit a complete salvation – “with joy you will come out and with peace will you bring” – speedily in our days.
(The English translation is courtesy of Rabbi Yehuda L. Oppenheimer)
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