The Joyous Holiday of Lag BaOmer

This year, on May 12, Jews will be celebrating the joyous holiday of Lag BaOmer.

typewrite with lag baomer typed out
Photo by Marco Verch (trendingtopics). CC BY 2.0.

What is Lag BaOmer?

Gematria, or Jewish numerology, is related to the philosophy of number and mathematics. ‘Lag’ stands for the Hebrew letters lamed — numerical value of 30 — and gimel — numerical value of 3 — with a sum of 33; this marks the 33 days of the Counting of the Omer in the Hebrew calendar. The Omer was a religious rite observed in the Temple on the second night of Passover.

There are some similarities between Lag BaOmer (sometimes spelled Lag B’omer) and the current quarantine and social distancing necessitated by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Rabbi Akiba and the Plague

The 33rd day after the beginning of Passover is celebrated as Lag BaOmer, because it was on that day that the deaths of Rabbi Akiba’s disciples ceased.

According to the Talmud, in the 2nd century CE, there was a plague that killed 40,000 disciples of the great Jewish mystic, Rabbi Akiba. The Talmud shares that this plague is a punishment for their not showing proper Jewish ethical respect, or derekh eretz (proper behavior and manners), towards each other, and for their lack of manifest proper ahavas yisrael (love of Israel) and love of all creatures (kavod ha-briut). Because of this tragic event, the weeks between Passover and Shavuot are observed as a mourning period, not only for the ethical failings of Rabbi Akiba’s disciples in the interhuman (bain adam li havaro/das zwischenmentshliche) and their lack of care and loving kindness (hesed) for each other, but also the destruction of the Temple that Rabbi Akiba merited to have witnessed. Significantly, it was on Lag BaOmer that Rabbi Akiba’s disciples ceased dying from the plague.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Rabbi Akiba had five disciples who actually survived the plague. One of them, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also known as the Rashbi, was a great Jewish mystic who eventually went into a kind of quarantine by hiding in a cave to escape persecution by the Romans. In the cave, he lived ascetically, eating only carob, with his son to whom he transmitted esoteric mystical teachings of Kabbalah. It was on Lag BaOmer that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai felt that it was safe to leave the cave after many years; many years later, the Rashbi would pass away on Lag BaOmer, making that day his yahrtzeit, or anniversary of his death, a day of commemoration in Judaism. Thus, Lag BaOmer is considered a day of Kabbalistic significance in the Jewish calendar.

rashbi's cave
The site some identify as the Rashbi’s cave. Photo by Deror_avi.  CC-BY-SA 4.0

Beyond “Business as Usual”

Perhaps the being stuck at home now will spark us to devote more time to the quest for intellectual, spiritual, and moral virtue, rather than assuming a “business as usual” attitude.

Jacob Richman has organized links related to Lag BaOmer that you can explore from home this year, and the Chabad website offer a simple, introductory article on Lag BaOmer. As the power of music in the Jewish arts testifies, song epitomizes the transcendence of the spiritual over the physical, so I hope you may enjoy some music associated with Lag BaOmer, too.

This year, Lag BaOmer falls on May 12, which is coincidentally close to May 15, the target date to begin to lift some of the stay-at-home measures in New York. May we hope that, with the approach of Lag BaOmer, the tide of the novel coronavirus begins to turn.

This article was contributed by David B. Levy, Chief Librarian at the Lander College for Women

From the Director’s Corner: May 2020

Timothy Healy, former President of the New York Public Library, said, “the most important asset of any library goes home at night – the library staff.”  Although the Touro College Libraries staff has been functioning from home since March 17th, we have met the challenges and difficulties with our usual sense of service.

As the Touro College community has been isolated from the physical buildings, the library staff has been thinking creatively about how to engage and connect everyone with the library services.  Communicating with our clients is vital and we have revamped and extended our online functions to meet these needs.

At this point I am taking this opportunity to salute the Touro College Libraries staff, our most important asset, for their dedication, commitment, and resourcefulness.

Bashe Simon
Director of Libraries, Touro College

While classes are being offered remotely, we are providing online research and reference help, remote library instruction sessions, and continued access to resources like eBooks, databases, and streaming video services. Due dates for print materials have been extended to June 15 and may be extended again, if necessary.

Get in touch with the Touro College Libraries through email, phone, or chat: https://www.tourolib.org/contact

What is Schizophrenia?

This blog post contains discussions of schizophrenia. This post is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For questions related to advice, diagnosis, or treatment please contact a licensed medical provider.

Growing up around someone with schizophrenia gave me a front row seat to the disorder and the toll it can take on an individual and their loved ones.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines schizophrenia as “a mental illness that is characterized by disturbances in thought (such as delusions), perception (such as hallucinations), and behavior (such as disorganized speech or catatonic behavior), by a loss of emotional responsiveness and extreme apathy, and by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life.”

sketch of woman in profile
Image by ElisaRiva from Pixabay

The definition seems very straightforward, but, to anyone who has cared for someone coping with the disorder, schizophrenia can be all-encompassing and an individual voyage into uncharted territory. There is no cure for the disorder, but treatment and management of symptoms is possible through medication, talk therapy, and a strong social support system.

I was inspired to make a LibGuide about the disorder, not only to add to our library’s collection of LibGuides, but also to educate the general community about the disorder. Schizophrenia is more prevalent than the average person may realize. In fact, 30% of the homeless population in the United States is estimated to have schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder. The number of people in prisons with schizophrenia is also shockingly high, with an estimated of 24% of municipal jail inmates suffering from the disorder. Without access to psychiatric hospitals or care, many schizophrenics go untreated and end up wandering the streets, sleeping on subways, or becoming incarcerated, usually for a non-violent crime.

Please feel free to visit the LibGuide on Schizophrenia and share your thoughts. I added a simulation video section to the LibGuide so that people may be able to experience what a patient experiences during their symptoms and have a better understanding of the disorder.

This post was contributed by Annette Carr, Librarian at the School of Health Sciences at Bay Shore

References

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Schizophrenia. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved April 30, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/schizophrenia

Ramsay, C. E., Goulding, S. M., Broussard, B., Cristofaro, S. L., Abedi, G. R., & Compton, M. T. (2011). From handcuffs to hallucinations: Prevalence and psychosocial correlates of prior incarcerations in an urban, predominantly african american sample of hospitalized patients with first-episode psychosis. The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 39(1), 57-64. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612963/

Wiltz, T. (2019). ‘Gravely disabled’ homeless forced into mental health care in more states. Retrieved from https://pew.org/2ULfUAb

May Day, Workers’ Day, and Labor Day

Ehrhart, S. D. , Approximately , Artist. In the merry month of May / Ehrhart. , 1905. N.Y.: J. Ottmann Lith. Co., Puck Bldg. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2011645701/.

May Day (May 1st) has a fascinating history as a public holiday around the world. Today, it is observed in many European cultures and celebrates the return of spring. Its origins stretch back into antiquity and through the medieval period, including festivals marking the change in season. Added over time was a maypole, that is a decorated pole people would dance around. The rituals were also performed in hope of a good season for crops and livestock. Over time the significance of the holiday was gradually lost. The Puritans that came to the New World viewed this practice to be pagan and forbid it. This is perhaps why the holiday never caught on widely in the United States (May Day, 2020).

Today, May Day is also known as Workers’ Day or International Workers’ Day and celebrates workers in the labor force. In Chicago on May 3, 1886 a strike at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, part on a national effort for an 8 hour workday, turned violent. There was a gathering the next day at the Haymarket Square, which turned even more violent when a bomb from an unknown assailant exploded. This incident became known as Haymarket Riot or Haymarket Massacre. (Haymarket Affair, 2020).

In 1889, a international federation of socialist groups and trade unions declared May 1st to honor labor in commemoration of the Haymarket Affair in United States, Canada and across Europe. Five years later U.S. Pres. Grover Cleveland, uneasy with the socialist and anarchist origins of Workers’ Day, signed a law making the first Monday in September a national holiday, Labor Day. Shortly there after Canada followed. (May Day, 2020).

May Day march in New York City, May 1, 1909. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/ggbain/item/2014683315/

This post was contributed by Joan Wagner, Chief Librarian at the School of Health Sciences

Bibliography

Haymarket Affair. (2020). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from https://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/Haymarket-Affair/39667

May Day. (2020). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from https://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/May-Day/438716

May Day. (2020). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from https://academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/May-Day/51569

Further Reading

Foner, Philip Sheldon. May Day : a short history of the international workers’ holiday, 1886-1986. International Publishers, 1986. Possibly available here: https://archive.org/details/maydayshorthisto0000fone

Haverty-Stacke, Donna T. Americas Forgotten Holiday: May Day and Nationalism, 1867-1960. New York University Press, 2009.

https://www.dol.gov/general/laborday/history

Separating Fact from Fiction

People often ask me, “They still have librarians? Isn’t it all on the internet?”

I respond to these questions that, as a librarian, part of my job is simply getting people to believe that they can’t necessarily trust what they read on the internet.

The coronavirus crisis reminds me continually of the importance of librarians and how much work we still need to do to help others see that, too.

An Infodemic

The World Health Organization has used the term infodemic” to describe the flood of inaccurate information about the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 that can make it difficult for people to find the information they need. Social networking is playing a major role in spreading this misinformation: according to CNN, this problem has gotten so bad that WhatsApp Messenger (a text and voice app) have had to limit the amount of times a message can be forwarded to one in order to slow the spread of false information.

a woman wearing a mask looking at an image on a laptop
Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Combating the Infodemic

Librarians have been sharing tools to combating misinformation for years, and these tools are as key to combating the coronavirus infodemic — after all, the information literacy skills taught by librarians are meant to go beyond the classroom. They are life skills, and if there was ever a time to apply those skills, this is it.

A key information literacy concept is seeking authoritative information. This means that the person or organization providing information is an expert in the topic he or she is commenting on. In the case of the coronavirus, an appropriate person to provide medical information would be a doctor who is a specialist in infectious diseases and epidemiology, and an example of an authoritative organization is the World Health Organization (WHO) or The Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Mythbusting Websites

It can be hard to sort out incorrect information on your own. Below are some websites that can help you debunk coronavirus/COVID-19 myths and rumors:

Snopes.com is a well-known website devoted to exposing disinformation. This includes discussing the validity of myths relating to COVID-19. It can be accessed at https://www.snopes.com/

Brandon Harrington, Library Assistant at Starrett City has created an excellent Fake News LibGuide. Addition fact checking websites listed there are:

A Ray of Hope

Beyond these authoritative resources, we can look to well-qualified people to connect us with accurate information, too. Someone I have come to respect throughout the coronavirus crisis has been Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

As a librarian, I appreciate that he answers questions by stressing the importance of making decisions based on quality data, rather than on personal beliefs, assumptions, or anecdotal information. The peer-reviewed studies he praises are the same type of studies we help our students and faculty find every day.

doctor anthony fauci
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH). Credit: NIH

Conclusion

While the coronavirus crisis has led to a flood of misinformation, we hope you find this post helps you find ways to separate the fact from fiction and to find accurate voices to listen to — and know that you can always call on a librarian for help.

This post was contributed by Michael Kahn, Librarian, Touro College School for Lifelong Education

References

ACRL. (n.d.). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework

FactCheck. (2020). https://www.factcheck.org/

Gold, H. (2020, April 7). WhatsApp tightens limits on message forwarding to counter coronavirus misinformation. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/07/tech/whatsapp-misinformation-forward-limit/index.html

Harrington, B. (2020, February 13). Fake News: How to spot Fake News. [LibGuide]. http://libguides.tourolib.org/fakenews

PolitiFact. (n.d.). https://www.politifact.com/

Quinnipiac University. (n.d.). April 8, 2020 – Fauci, governors get highest marks for response to coronavirus, Quinnipiac University National Poll finds; Majority say Trump’s response not aggressive enough. https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=3658

The Washington Post Fact Checker. (n.d.). https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/?utm_term=.24060580321d

United Nations. (n.d.). UN tackles ‘infodemic’ of misinformation and cybercrime in COVID-19 crisis. https://www.un.org/en/un-coronavirus-communications-team/un-tackling-%E2%80%98infodemic%E2%80%99-misinformation-and-cybercrime-covid-19

Staying Balanced on the Hyphen

This blog post contains discussions of bipolar disorder. If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.

Do you know someone with a mental illness? Someone who is considered neuroatypical, whose brain works differently than most people?

Perhaps you know someone with bipolar disorder, as “an estimated 2.8% of U.S. adults had bipolar disorder in the past year.” (The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center, 2017) Or you know someone who has this disease and you don’t know it — someone who, as I put it, is “staying balanced on the hyphen”. This might be someone who works very hard on a daily basis to stay within a “normal” range of emotions and not give into the manic highs and deep lows of the illness.

one woman comforting another woman
Image by Serena Wong from Pixabay

Bipolar disorder is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks” (The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center, 2020). It is characterized by extreme see-sawing moods, from “extremely ‘up,’ elated, irritable, or energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very ‘down,’ sad, indifferent, or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes)” (The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center, 2020). Continue reading

You can take the librarian out of the library…

How can I be a librarian from home?

I started thinking about this as I sat alone by my computer: can I be a librarian outside of the library? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that one could do a great deal from home as a librarian. As some might say, you can take the librarian out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the librarian.

a laptop and phone and mug on a couch
Image by Anrita1705 from Pixabay

After being told we would begin working from home, we were given one day to go back to our offices to set up or pack up what we needed to work remotely. This began a whirlwind of changes to the way I work, from new, purring officemates to turning my home into a modern industrial park.  Continue reading

The New Meaning of “Shelter in Place”

For the first time in the history of Chicago Animal Care and Control, the shelter has run out of dogs to adopt — and Chicago is not the only place in the United States seeing an uptick in animal adoptions and fostering since the coronavirus outbreak began.

In New York City and Los Angeles, the ASPCA says its applications for dogs and cats are up 200%. Nationwide, the statistics are even more promising. Petpoint, a software program that monitors 1,200 animal shelters across the country, found that adoptions are up 700% this year compared to 2019. Why the increase in pet adoptions and fostering since the coronavirus outbreak? It seems that sheltering in place, social media appeals, and the need for companionship are all driving this trend.

a cat and a dog cuddling outside
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

With stay-at-home orders in place across the country, many animal shelters are suspending operations. The temporary closure of shelters is leaving many animals vulnerable to not receiving adequate care. Furthermore, adoption events that usually bring in potential pet parents are being cancelled or postponed due to social distancing guidelines. The situation has caused shelter workers and volunteers to reach out on social media over the past month to ask the public for help by adopting shelter animals. If people are unable to adopt, shelters are asking them to foster animals temporarily until the shelters can reopen in the future.

In addition to being a platform for shelters to appeal directly to the public for help, social media has also been used to form virtual adoption communities and host online events. Since many live adoption events have been cancelled, some shelters are using Facebook Live to showcase adoptable pets online to people across the country. This method has given animals more exposure to a larger audience than traditional live events, which, in turn, is bringing in more potential adopters. Social media has also allowed rescue organizations across the country to work together in order to bring animals from one region to another. This has been very helpful since some areas of the country have a surplus of animals and others have a surplus of interested adopters and foster applicants. 

young kittens in a cat bed
Image by Helga Kattinger from Pixabay

Americans are responding to these social media activities in droves. The response seems to have grown out of both a sense of compassion toward the animals in need and a desire that many Americans have to help out others in a time of crisis to “try and do their part.” This response is also likely the result of the companionship that pets can provide in this anxious time. Taking care of pets provides consistency and routine for people who are not used to living under these new restrictions. In a time of social distancing, pets give people a sense of comfort and connection. They are giving people activities to engage in, too, whether that is going outside to walk the dog — while practicing social distancing — or having online meetings with other pet owners. The benefits to both humans and animals has been great and is something to cherish during this stressful time.

This post was contributed by Annette Carr, Librarian at the School of Health Sciences at Bay Shore

References

Beck, M., & McFetridge, S. (2020). Coronavirus in US: Pet fostering takes off as COVID-19 keeps Americans home. Retrieved from https://abc7ny.com/6077028/

Chicago animal care and control runs out of adoptable dogs for 1st time ever. (2020). Retrieved from https://abc7chicago.com/6082614/

Fies, A. (2020). People and pets help each other through coronavirus pandemic. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/Health/people-pets-coronavirus-pandemic/story?id=69949246

Jeunesse, W. L. (2020). Pet adoptions, fostering spike amid coronavirus restrictions. Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/us/pet-adoptions-and-fostering-spike-during-coronavirus

How to Diffuse a ‘Zoombomb’

The new reality of working from home and social distancing relies on the use of video conference platforms to connect with co-workers and customers. Zoom has recently emerged as one of the leading remote meeting platforms where users can engage in online video conferences, chat, and mobile collaboration. Zoom was founded in 2011 by software engineer Eric Yuan. The company went public on the NASDAQ in April 2019.

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a boon for Zoom. Many schools, colleges, and companies across the country began downloading and using the platform just as the virus began to force people to work from home. Since March, the software has been downloaded 40 million times worldwide, and since February, the stock price for Zoom has nearly doubled from approximately $76 per share to $159 per share. But, as with many companies that find sudden success, Zoom’s flaws have been becoming more apparent to consumers.

illustration of a man and a woman on a video cll
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Criticism of Zoom has revolved around its security flaws and a new phenomenon called “Zoombombing.” Zoombombing occurs when a hacker, prankster, or wrongdoer enters a Zoom meeting uninvited (aka “crashing a meeting”) and begins interrupting the meeting by posting inappropriate content or hijacking the meeting from the host. Zoombombing has led to many customers having to terminate their videoconferences, cancel meetings, and worry if their cyber security systems have been breached. One of our librarians at Bay Shore was in a webinar this week that had to be terminated due to a Zoombomber posting illicit content and disrupting the meeting.

In addition to Zoombombing, the rapid increase in Zoom usage has led to scrutiny of the company’s privacy policies and potential security flaws. In particular, Mac iOS users are vulnerable to security problems as hackers have been able to access Zoom on their computer to turn on cameras and microphones as well as install malware on their computer systems. Zoom has also come under criticism for giving user data to Facebook without users’ knowledge or permission. Zoom has since stopped giving user data to Facebook, but these problems have already led to class action lawsuits against Zoom.

image of two women on a video conference call
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

While the privacy challenges need to be addressed at the company-level, Zoombombing is a threat we, as users, can take steps to combat as we continue to use Zoom throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond:

Use the latest software: Ensure your participants are using the latest version of Zoom. The latest version has upgraded security features to block users from randomly scanning and joining meetings.

Password protect: When creating a meeting, make sure your meetings require a password for participants to enter. Zoom has made password protection a default setting on the latest version of the platform.

Direct invitation: Invite participants directly via email with an invitation and meeting password. Do not publicly post Zoom meeting information via social media or other public channels.

Close your meeting: Once all participants have arrived at the meeting, close the meeting to any newcomers to avoid crashers. Hosts can close the meeting by clicking on the “Participants” tab at the bottom of the screen and choosing the “Lock Meeting” option.

Remove/disable unwanted participants: The meeting host can remove and block crashers who are Zoombombing. The host can also disable the chat feature, mute all participants, disable participants from sharing videos, and limit screen sharing options to “Host only”.

If you experience a Zoombombing intrusion, be sure to report it to Zoom at the following link: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/requests/new

This post was contributed by Annette Carr, Librarian at the School of Health Sciences at Bay Shore

References

Andone, D. (2020). FBI warns video calls are getting hijacked. it’s called ‘Zoombombing’. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/02/us/fbi-warning-zoombombing-trnd/index.html

Hodge, R. (2020). Zoombombing: What it is and how to prevent it in Zoom video chat. Retrieved from https://www.cnet.com/how-to/zoombombing-what-it-is-and-how-to-prevent-it-in-zoom-video-chat/

Lehtonen, S. (2020). Dow Jones surges 500 points on soaring jobless claims, as coronavirus stock market correction worsens. Retrieved from https://www.investors.com/market-trend/stock-market-today/dow-jones-coronavirus-stock-market-jobless-claims-luckin-coffee/

Newman, L. H. (2020, Apr 01,). The Zoom privacy backlash is only getting started. Wired, Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/zoom-backlash-zero-days/

Peterson, M. (2020). Two more MacOS Zoom flaws surface, as lawsuit & government probe loom. Retrieved from https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/04/01/two-more-macos-zoom-flaws-surface-as-lawsuit-government-probe-loom

Wutoh, A. K. (2020). Steps for Zoom protection email. Retrieved from https://mailchi.mp/7b3f91503173/steps-for-zoom-protection-email?e=d1d4c0b48f

 

Lessons from Pandemics in Jewish History

It may feel like our current crisis is completely unprecedented, but the truth is that we can look to history for evidence of what has happened before and how people have survived pandemics. Jewish and biblical history hold valuable insights into our present situation. 

Examples of Pandemics from the Bible

When King David conducted a census of the population, he ordered the counting of the people directly, instead of counting indirectly by means of half shekels (mahazit ha-shekel). As a result, the Rabbis tell us, a plague took place which killed 70,000 people, with 100 people dying each day.

It was decreed that the plague would be annulled if 100 brachot, or blessings, were recited each day. The Rabbis explain that since 100 people died each day from the plague, the recitation of 100 blessings a day would counteract midah kineged midah, or measure for measure (see Midash Rabba – Numbers 18:17; Tur 46, quoting Rav Netrunoi Gaon).

headofkingdavid
Head of King David, ca. 1145. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In another instance, we find the terror of plagues in Leviticus 26:25, which states, “And I will bring the sword upon you… and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you.” In yet another example, Ezekiel 7:15 states, “The sword is without and the pestilence and the famine within,” and, beyond that, the Philistines’ capture of the ark was said to cause a plague of hemorrhoids.

Examples of Rabbinic Responses

What remedies have Rabbis suggested over the ages to defend against epidemics?

The Talmud mentions the efficacy of offering prayers, particularly Tehillim (Psalms). If the situation does not allow large gatherings, then synchronized prayer, done at the same time in private domains, is effective.

This is also the theory behind daf yomi, developed by Rabbi Meir Shapiro. Jews around the world each study a page (daf) of the Talmud, the central text from which Jewish law is derived.

Being in quarantine or self-isolation at this time may give you more time to study, so you might like to keep in mind the elixir of old given by Rabbis for remedying not only physical illness, but also spiritual illness (refuat ha-nefesh ve refuat ha-guf). The Chofetz Chaim urges the study of laws regarding slander and gossip that are believed also to curb the onset of plague and  warns against causing harm psychologically of persons by “meanspeak“, embarassing person in public, and otherwise causing harm to individuals You might also like to learn about ethical principles which can be applied to the internet, as you interact with others in our digital world.

read-3566317_1920
Image by Darelle from Pixabay

Conclusion

Wiping out this pandemic requires basic respect for life as the ultimate good, respect for human dignity, and great doses of humility, compassion, and above all, care for the sanctify of life.

Ultimately we must recognize that the ways of G-d are beyond human logic. We can look to history to understand how humans have reacted in the past, but only time will tell how we react to our current challenge. Keeping in mind these lessons, we can help others along the way.

This article was contributed by David B. Levy, Chief Librarian at the Lander College for Women

Information in this post was drawn from yeshiva.org.il Wiki pagesThe Black Death by Robert S. Gottfried, and Biblical and Talmudic Medicine by Julius Preuss, translated by Fred Rosner.