Dr. Gila Jedwab

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?

42 COMMENTS

  1. Wow … just dumbfounded by this article … I don’t even know where to start. To have the audacity to ignore all the major poskim across the religious spectrum and not do any histadlus to prevent contracting the virus …

  2. It’s an outrage that this paper is amplifying a position that is contrary to what all the local poskim and public health experts have been working so hard to communicate to our community for months and that has thankfully succeeded in lowering the prevalence of the disease to very low levels BH. And to do it under the veneer of a dvar Torah is even worse.

    It’s one thing to come across this sort of nonsense on facebook. Quite another to have it promoted by a leading local newspaper.

  3. It’s one thing for a person to have insane opinions. What is far worse is that a community supported newspaper would print such trash. I hope Rabbonim speak out on the total disregard for Halacha.

  4. Do you wear a mask when treating your patients? If so, why? If not, you’re in the minority of even G-d fearing dentists!

  5. I can’t believe what what I’m reading. Reality check! If you have minutes to live and need emergency surgery, do you tell the doctor i have faith in g-d , the surgery isn’t necessary. Lady, I’m not sure what you are smoking but i think you need a major reality check. I’m certain i wouldn’t feel safe having you stick you Corona infested fingers in my mouth!! I hope your still have patients after posting this stupidity!!!!

  6. Nebach on the 5TJT for even publishing this filth. We have seen the facts, masks work. Period! Anyone who continues to go to Ms. Jedwabs practice obviously has no faith in HaShem. Let HKBH fix your teeth for you.

  7. A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.

    Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”

    The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”

    So the rowboat went on.

    Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”

    To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

    So the motorboat went on.

    Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”

    To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

    So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.

    Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”

    To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”

  8. By this logic Jews fleeing Europe in the 30’s and 40’s should’ve stayed exactly where they were and trusted in god to come and save them.

    Not only is this an indefensible position, but you’re weaponizing faith against the well being of those people in a community that have already been absolutely ravaged by the disease.

    And now that the second wave looms larger and more dangerous then ever you advocate for this. It’s honestly shameful that not only these words would come out of your mouth but a publication would give you a platform to amplify this outrageous stupidity. To call it chutzpah would provide the pass of naïveté on the author. Respectfully, you either clearly weren’t paying attention to any of the mandatory sanitary protocols taught in medical/dental school, or your position of comfort and protection from the virus a such that you can financially and mentally afford to consider the ramifications of the virus and it’s impact on the community from a perspective of privilege. But down here with the common folk, we have been losing loved ones almost every day since March.

    Treat the virus as if it’s invisible and the responsibility of god to battle and the only the thing the community will gain from doing so is better business for funeral homes and grave diggers. I would say to wash the blood off your hands but you’ll probably just ask god to disinfect it for you and go on about touching various grandparents’ faces.

  9. I would follow up and say that corona is as invisible as anti semitism. It’s the result of anti semitism and corona that we all can see. It is a very dangerous path to say that god would not allow his people to be in a situation where they can’t go where they please and need to wear a mask. She forgets the many times in history where we could not leave our homes and had to wear Jewish stars. What the millions we lost would have given to have masks when they were in gas chambers. This article and the 5 towns Jewish times is an embarrassment to the 5 Towns, an embarrassment to anyone Jewish and this newspaper has no place in our Times. Larry Gordon should explain himself.

  10. These comments show how clearly infected by fear and lack of emuna people are.

    Look at the death rates in Georgia at record lows, even multiple weeks after reopening.

    https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report

    Look at how in late March the head of the WHO itself said masks are more dangerous than helpful.

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/30/world/coronavirus-who-masks-recommendation-trnd/index.html

    And that’s just the science side! Hashem is showing signs for us to be positive. Are we capable of it anymore?

  11. For all those knocking the author of this article, can you post the studies showing the data regarding the effectiveness of masks preventing corona virus transmission?

  12. All of these comments are unacceptable. Where is your Emunah? Who controls the world? Who decides who lives and dies and when? Are you so blinded by the Avodah Zarah of the medical establishment that you have no faith left? “Da Lifnei Mi Ata ‘Omed”. I do not see anyone saying not to do your Ishtadlut. Do what you want with yourself but you have no right to demonize people that do not follow your Avodah Zarah. If you follow your approach of listening to what the medical experts say, than not one jew should be overweight because multiples more people die every year from lifestyle disease because all of you refuse to give up sugar and margarine and all the other poison. not one hashgacha should give hechsher to sugar or any other poisonouse substances which Gourmet Glat and Seasons are full of. Go keep healthy, because if you have taken care of your health COVID is meaningless. Go out in to fresh air because all of these lock downs have caused the world to gain Billions of pounds of weight, and have cause so many other secondary health issues that you have no clue. Nobody minimizes the fact that people have died, but how many of them would have died within a month anyway? How many of them died with COVID not from it, but are being marked as COVID deaths becuase the hospital makes more money from it? How many of them were intubated for no reason? this is a complex multidimensional issue that all of you short sighted people have turned in to a binary issue. Read the article and look at what it is saying. Why did moshe have to build the Copper Serpent? People lost their Emunah. Why did Chizkiyahu Hamelekh put the Sefer Refuot in to Geniza? Because people lost their faith. You all owe the Doctor an apology. you all need to go and educate yourself instead of being sheep. Jewish people for generations were the people that would argue the minutest details of every point to get to the real truth, yet you don’t even want to get past the first question.

  13. Wow 4 comments in a row anti masks, clearly it’s all from 1 person. This isn’t a debatable issue so I have no interest in giving you the scientific proof other than to say ושמרתם מאד נפשותיכם. You can debate camps or shuls or opening stores. Sorry if masks aren’t comfortable. If anti maskers are wrong they can be murderers. There are many cancer patients and other immuno compromised. The neighborhood is horrified by this distortion of Halacha. Masks are the same as wearing a seatbelt, going to a dentist, taking medicine, pacemakers, etc. etc. etc.

    • Not from the same person – I take offense at that. if you read the times that they were posted you would see the difference, but the Admin of FTJT needs to approve the comments. the 12 comments bashing the author by your rational point must be from the same person as well. if you are immunocompromised, wrap yourself in a hazmat suit and off you go, let all else live their lives. and to the point I made earlier, you should be a Rodef every time you buy your kid a soda or candy. go find some Emunnah net time you are not afraid of your own shadow.
      Brchot 32:B – 33:A The Sages taught: There was a related incident, involving a particular pious man who was praying while traveling along his path when an officer [hegmon] came and greeted him. The pious man did not pause from his prayer and did not respond with a greeting. The officer waited for him until he finished his prayer.
      After he finished his prayer, the officer said to him: You good for nothing. You endangered yourself; I could have killed you.
      Isn’t it written in your Torah: “Take utmost care and guard yourself diligently” (Deuteronomy 4:9)?
      And it is also written: “Take therefore good heed unto yourselves” (Deuteronomy 4:15)? Why did you ignore the danger to your life?
      When I greeted you, why did you not respond with a greeting?
      Were I to sever your head with a sword, who would hold me accountable for your spilled blood?
      ……………………………………….. You can go learn it yourself

    • here was an incident in one place where an arvad was harming the people. They came and told Rabbi Ḥanina ben Dosa and asked for his help. He told them: Show me the hole of the arvad. They showed him its hole. He placed his heel over the mouth of the hole and the arvad came out and bit him, and died.

      נְטָלוֹ עַל כְּתֵפוֹ וֶהֱבִיאוֹ לְבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ. אָמַר לָהֶם: רְאוּ בָּנַי, אֵין עַרְוָד מֵמִית, אֶלָּא הַחֵטְא מֵמִית.

      Rabbi Ḥanina ben Dosa placed the arvad over his shoulder and brought it to the study hall. He said to those assembled there: See, my sons, it is not the arvad that kills a person, rather transgression kills a person. The arvad has no power over one who is free of transgression.

  14. So the people of the 5 towns who were desperate to get back to shul, who risked their lives for Hatzalah, who prayed for all their sick friends and relatives, including a local Rabbi, have no Emunah because they support wearing masks.

    Everyone is responsible for the health of themselves and their family. If someone wants to drive without a seatbelt or give their kids junkfood, its all on them. As long as you arent breaking the law, I dont care what you do. We only care what you do when you risk the lives of members of our community. If the law is to wear masks in a supermarket, we care if you refuse. You can take risks for yourself, not for others.

    In regards to your random stories, I have no idea what the point is. I would go with Rabbinic authority in town and across the world that believes in Pikuach Nefesh.

    • Both of these studies were inconclusive, if you read them

      Mainstream poskim indeed now say masks are not required while observing social distancing. Poskim do not write down psak online you need to go to their shuls outside of 5 towns

    • My goal was just to have people actually read the articles instead of just accepting them as true.

      It’s not so hard, just go to the conclusions and you can see that they are inconclusive.

      It’s important to use critical thinking and emuna instead of emotion and fear, especially nowadays

      Hazlacha Rabba, be safe and well

  15. 1) you obviously can’t understand medical literature perhaps consult an expert who can
    2) you are a liar and cannot produce said specific piskei halacha because they do not exist and are in fact contrary to halacha
    3) you are a chasid shoteh

  16. You also cite WHO reccs from early in the pandemic (March!) as though they have meaning which tells me you are either ignorant or dishonest

    You also do not have the courage to post your real name which tells me you are a coward

  17. WOW! Amazing article. Thank you for taking the time to write about this. It connects exactly with the previous parsha. TRUST IN G-D🙏

  18. Dr Scott atlas on tucker Carlson last night spoke about herd immunity claiming masks are not the way to go and schools should be reopened. Dr Jed web is right on the money

  19. Thank you Dr Jedwab! I’m an ER Doctor in Manhattan and not going to wear a mask on the LIRR, on the subway, and in the ER because of your bitachon. Thanks!!!

  20. Wow. I am just blown away by the complete total lack of yiddishkeit in these negative comments on an amazing article.
    When moshiach comes he will strip those masks and reveal those who were pretend jews.
    Save your souls and start believing in god because only he and only he can save your body and soul. No masks, no CDC, no FDA no goverment. Hishtadlus ends where emunah begins.

    • This is a reply to daughter of god. Did you grow up a Xtian? Because what you wrote is not a Jewish perspective. True, we don’t believe that anyone or anything have power besides Hashem, but we also don’t believe that bashing people and denying their Jewishness is the right way to go.

  21. I cannot say whether masks are the solution or not.

    I cannot say that Bitachon is a sufficient defense against an enemy we don’t understand.

    I cannot say whether Dr. Jedwab is correct or not.

    What I can say is that the mistake of the Meraglim was taking the facts on the ground and putting their spin on them. True, Hashem can do anything He wants and their understanding was short-sighted. However, they were sent with the purpose of strategizing the conquest. If Bitachon was all that mattered they would not have been sent.

    The only thing we know for absolute certain about COVID is that we know absolutely NOTHING for certain.

    We have no one to rely on but Hashem, but Hashem Himself told us to go to doctors. Chazal follow doctors’ orders to formulate halacha.

    Are we supposed to cover our faces and breaths? Gedolim In previous generations said yes.

    It seems to me that people will gravitate towards whatever view matches what they desire to be the truth. Some are absolutely convinced we need masks and some are just as convinced it’s all a conspiracy.

    Our Bitachon tells us to trust not that everything will be OK, but that it will be as Hashem wants it to be. He works camouflaged by nature, so we need to do what we can, knowing that the actual results are up to him. Is there the possibility that a mask will prevent me from harming someone? If so then it’s worth it.

  22. Arizona just reported 5000 new cases and 80 deaths over the last 24 hours which is a new record for both in that state
    Do not make the mistake that low death count in these states thus far reflects anything but the lag between cases and death
    It is not too late to start taking the simple safe and effective steps that cost nothing to keep a resurgence from happening here
    Halacha obligates it and so does human decency

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