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05/13/2020 04:38:26 PM


Lisa Septimus

The Corona Chronicles

As I write this, it is almost Lag B'Omer, which serves as another reminder of how at each stage of this isolating plague we were so wrong and clueless about what would come next. 

Six weeks ago I sat my 4 kids and my husband down with newspaper covering the floor and cut everyone's hair.  I then hesitated slightly before cutting my own, wondering whether I could manage without a haircut until Lag B’Omer, when surely I would be able to go out and get a proper one. Now, I am looking for the scissors I used, getting ready to give everyone their second Corona haircuts. Yet, I am still hopeful that we will all be back at the barber soon; heck, I'm still holding out hope that there will be summer camp for my kids, even though most people I have spoken to consider it a hopeless (or even reckless) dream.  

And herein lies one of the greatest challenges of the Coronavirus; people who once were on the same wavelength -  part of the same community - are now experiencing and seeing the world so differently.

Every day I hear such different responses to the current reality: "This is ridiculous already… things need to start going back to normal…" and then, “Why can't everyone follow the rules and stop endangering others' lives?" I hear, "I'm falling apart. I feel so much anxiety and pressure" and "I feel so much more relaxed not packing lunches and rushing off to work."  I hear, "My life is so different, I don’t feel anything like myself" and I hear "This is bringing into focus who I really am and what matters to me." 

Community members, friends, and relatives are experiencing the world so differently than one another. Impatient, at peace, scared, relaxed, depressed, or happy. We are struggling to understand one another and not judge, not argue, not point fingers.  

The hardest (while at the same time the easiest) person to feel distant from is one's spouse.  When you are in sync with your spouse that connected feeling is wonderful.  It is tougher to disagree with one’s spouse, to have a different outlook on Corona or any aspect of life, and still feel good; still feel connected. We identify so closely with a spouse that a difference in perspective can feel threatening.

Mikvah is a particularly loaded issue where some spouses find themselves on different pages.  Even though the mikvaot have gone above and beyond to adjust policies and ensure safety, some women are not comfortable.  They do not want to put themselves in any potentially risky situations.  In some of those cases, the men are on the same page, but for others, it's difficult to understand and extremely frustrating. Navigating that scenario takes some finesse, some patience, and a lot of understanding. But, the way a couple negotiates something as delicate as mikvah can be a model for all of us how to connect to others during this time. The more connected we are - the harder it is when we don’t see eye to eye.  Our differences affect each other emotionally and physically. Your decision to wear a mask or not - may evoke a strong reaction from your neighbor, and it could also have ramifications on how this virus moves through our community. 

On Lag B'Omer we honor the legacy of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai.  Rav Shimon Bar Yochai was passionate and zealous for Torah.  So much so, that he had a lot of trouble seeing and understanding those with a perspective different than his.  But when he came out of the cave (for the second time) he realized that he can be just as passionate about Torah, and allows others to serve Hashem in different ways - and they can respect one another in the process.  We need to be sensitive to others during this time; we don't always see eye to eye. But we must respect the opinion and concerns of our spouses, family, friends and beyond.  Some of us feel like right now we are being our best selves and others feel like they have lost themselves completely.  How wonderful, lonely, challenging, and easy it will be for us to figure this out together.

By: Lisa Septimus

Sat, May 18 2024 10 Iyyar 5784