What Should We Do Now?
(and a word on praying with a minyan) R’ Ephraim Kenig
There is no question that we need to pay great attention to what is going on around us right now. As the Rambam writes, when things like this happen, don’t say it is by chance or a rare occurrence, and then let it pass as if nothing happened. If so, the Rambam says, God will need to send an even more difficult warning to get our attention, God forbid. So what do we need to do? Right now, without delay, take a good honest look inside yourself to fix whatever you know needs repair. God knows the heart and mind of each one of us and knows if we are really learning the correct lesson from what is going on right now. Whatever we understand that we need to improve in our lives, it is important to put it into immediate action. The main thing is to fix the relationship between us and others, whether it be family or friends, or anyone else with whom we interact. Ensure there is no grudge, malice or hard feelings between you and anyone else.
Likewise, it is time to take a deeper look at our relationship with God. Regarding prayer, we are now in a situation where it is already impossible to pray with a minyan. I think the message is for anyone who has perhaps taken prayer in a minyan lightly. Thus we now face what is described in Pirkei Avot, that whoever neglects the Torah in wealth, will ultimately neglect it in poverty. We see that for all sorts of reasons, we are being told not to pray in a minyan. The advice for this is also found in the same Mishnah, that whoever fulfills the Torah in poverty, will ultimately fulfill it in wealth. (Pirkei Avot 4:9) In other words, it is time to strengthen ourselves and do whatever we previously found difficult—all of those things we avoided doing until today. Yes, fulfill them, yes, strengthen ourselves in those things we previously belittled or disparaged. Yes, be spiritually stronger and have greater focus in prayer. Then, of course, God will have compassion and give us the ability to fulfill the Torah in wealth, in many different ways: practical mitzvot, mitzvot connected to thought, and those dependent upon speech. God should bless us all with whatever we need in order to do what He desires, according to halacha. If we fulfill God’s desire, He will most certainly fulfill our own holy desires as well, and we will see immediate deliverance and redemption, may it be His will. Amen.