By Dr. Gila Jedwab, DMD
When the meraglim (spies) returned, they reported death and doomsday back to Moshe and Aaron. Ten of the most respected men, princes of each tribe, wailed about how ominous and formidable the enemy appeared to them.
If their assessment was, in fact, physically accurate, why were they destroyed for it? What was their fatal error?
The answer is simple. They terrified a nation. They gave bad reports. They projected worst-case scenarios from facts on the ground and reduced an entire nation into the walking dead. The spies made an even graver mistake. Their cardinal mistake was that they left G-d entirely out of the equation. They forgot to factor in the same G-d Who had done every supernatural kindness for them. They thought it suddenly became their entire responsibility to control an enemy that they predicted would overwhelm their capabilities. Sound familiar yet?
Back then, they were dealing with an enemy composed of giants. Today, mercifully, G-d sent us the opposite. An invisible enemy. But the fundamental question remains the same. Will we factor G-d into the equation or will we leave Him out?
I ask myself: What does trust in G-d look like in real-time and what does its opposite — fear — look like? To me, trust looks like enjoying your life. Trust looks like going outside and breathing. Trust looks like standing close to other people without wondering about their antibody status. Trust looks like the return of Divinely guided common sense. Trust does not look down on an entire world walking around in masks and say, “good job.”
A woman walked into my office and walked back out because she saw the most terrifying sight. People’s faces. How did this kind of irrational terror seep into an entire culture? How did this bizarre reality force its way in?
Why are we covering our beautiful smiling faces? Does a hidden face emit a vibe of trust? How did face covering become the latest version of trust in G-d, with even spiritual leaders falling prey to its false logic?
Breath is our first intimacy with G-d. It is our primordial connection to Him. G-d breathed His own breath into the nose of Adam to bring him to life. Breath remains our most elemental interface with G-d. Why would we choose to diminish that, even for a second? Breath is the source of good health and of life itself.
The answer is simple. Bad reports. Reports that leave G-d out of the equation. Reports that didn’t trust G-d to take care of an invisible enemy. The more that human beings scrambled to control a domain that so clearly belongs to G-d, a domain we could not even see, the more G-d stepped out and let us fall in that hole.
Back to the Bible. With the spies, the saddest part of their story is when they realized their grave mistake. It hit them like a ton of bricks. The unfortunate people who forgot to trust G-d stayed up all night wailing. But it was too late. There was no coming back.
When the spies realized they wouldn’t be given a second chance by G-d, they tried to grab one for themselves. That tactic did not work out too well for them.
When it comes to fear of giants, a terrified reaction is fathomable. The physical victory promised to them would have to emerge from their brave physical actions of war, assisted by G-d. The victory over giants would obviously require action alongside the trust.
However, with this virus, when it came down to battling an unseen enemy, wouldn’t the more intuitive approach be to let G-d handle this war without our help? We couldn’t even see the enemy this time. Wouldn’t it have been smarter to step aside and say, “G-d, this battle is all You. We can’t even see what we are fighting. Let’s step back and let you handle it.”
Logically, wouldn’t victory with an invisible enemy emerge more fruitfully from enlisting the invisible weapons of trust and faith in G-d. This victory required the holding back of action.
For some reason, we appear to be luckier than that generation. G-d is handing us a second chance here. Maybe because we didn’t witness His Face as directly as the generation of the splitting of the sea did. Maybe that’s why G-d is cutting us some slack here.
This second chance at trust, given mercifully from G-d, is presenting itself with a catchy slogan. Society has cleverly named it “the second wave.” Will this second wave look like a continuation of the first, with more of the same — more worrying, more restrictions, more desperate clinging to fear of death? Or will the second wave look entirely different? Will it look like remembering how to live with the breath of your grandchildren near your face? Will it look more like taking down barriers instead of putting more up? Will it look like hugging your friends? Will it look like being able to see your neighbor smile at you again? Will it look like our kids playing together in camp?
Even Israel — a country that is a world leader in knowing how to do trust, a country that gets the same bus up and running within hours of a terrorist attack — is slipping back into this dangerous territory of the second wave of fear. The country that puts trust of G-d at the center of its existence has somehow forgotten to do that here. It shocks me.
And look at the repercussions on us poor souls living outside the Land. We’ve temporarily lost access to our holiest, most precious place. I’ve always looked to Israel to show the world how it’s done. They are world leaders in physical defense. It is time for them to be world leaders in spiritual defense, to show the world what a second wave of trust in G-d looks like. I tell you, from my vantage point, it doesn’t look like more Plexiglas.
I declare here that I trust G-d to run His world. That He doesn’t require our ineffectual micromanaging. That He knows how to manage life and breath with perfection. That nothing in His world has changed. That we have always been safe in His capable hands and always will be. Who out there will declare the same?