By The Jerusalem Post
A mass prayer event being staged digitally and in small 10-man, outdoor prayer services will be held Wednesday at 10:30 New York time to request divine intervention for halting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The initiative has been promoted by the chief rabbis of Israel Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau, and several other organizations and prominent rabbis, including Chief Rabbi of Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of France Rabbi Chaim Korsia, head of the New York Yeshurun Congregation Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, CEO of the OU in Israel Rabbi Avi Berman, among others.
Join in on Zoom:
Meeting ID: 829 801 084
Meeting ID: 829 801 084
The written script for for the prayer service can be found online here:
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, one of the four holy cities of Israel, said that although it could not be said what exactly mankind was doing incorrectly which may have spiritually given rise to the current pandemic, he said that the world would have “different insights” into how it should approach life once it ends.
“Since the world was created there was light and darkness, good and bad. Man has to chose the good, and to avoid the bad, but sometimes people make mistakes and bring upon themselves the bad,” said the rabbi.
“We all understand that there is a creator who didn’t just create the world and then leave it, but is to be found in it, and we are praying to the One who created the world and guides it will heal it and send a a full recovery to all the Jewish people and the whole world.”
Eliyahu observed that decisions made by major world economic powers to protect their populations from the Covid-19 pandemic were notable for how adversely they will effect the global economy.
And he said that this illustrated how the global health crisis had “opened the eyes” of nations to the fact that there were more important things than just economic prosperity.
“The world which put the economy at the head of its priorities at the expense of other values is today being reset and people are realizing that the economy is not everything, that life is everything,” said Eliyahu.
“The world today is knowingly making a sacrifice, sacrificing the world economy and saying ‘the economy is important, but human life is more important.’
“The economy is important, but it cannot trample other values.”
CEO of the Orthodox Union in Israel Rabbi Avi Berman notes said of the prayer event that “Our role as observant Jews is to appeal to the creator of the world,” and said that when the Jewish people come together their prayers are answered.
“We have no doubt that when we are united as one, we reach the highest spiritual peaks. Therefore hundreds of rabbis and community leaders around the world come together for a joint prayer with the people of Israel in their land, in order to create the spiritual strength for this unique prayer.”
Some criticism had been leveled at the mass prayer event, since the chief rabbis initially called for people to assemble in synagogues in 10-men prayer groups for the service.
The Tzohar rabbinical association in particular called on Tuesday for the event to be made into an exclusively digital prayer service, because of the danger of spreading the Covid-19 disease in communal prayer services in synagogues.
Following the announcement of new social-distancing regulations in Israel by the government on Wednesday, the chief rabbis subsequently said that any real-world communal gatherings for the mass prayer event should be conducted outdoors and with a maximum of 10 men, spaced two meters apart.