Way back in April, when the pandemic took root, it coincided with an interesting Parsha in the Torah that described when a person is forced to quarantine alone. There are several reasons given but one of them is when a person speaks evilly about another person. In other words, if a person is not relating to other people properly, he is then ostensibly cut off from others for a period of time so he can no longer damage them. Hopefully, during that time he or she will realize how terrible evil speech is and how important relationships are. Could the pandemic be communicating a similar message? Have we been mistreating each other that we need to be put into ‘time out’? We are not prophets so we won’t know for certain why the pandemic, but being alone does give us time to appreciate the importance of relationships.
There is only one thing that the Torah says is ‘not good’. That is being alone. We’ve all been forced to be alone for extended periods of time this pandemic. It is hard and grating on our souls to be so cut off. That being said, if we take this time to appreciate how important relationships are to us and realize that being alone is not an option in life. The Torah’s words are crucial. More and more research is finding how true these words are. Loneliness has been shown to increase cortisol and inflammation. People who are isolated are more likely to get physically sick. Social relationships are not only critical for mental health resilience but it even extends to healing from trauma. In the New York Times best seller Bessel Van Der Kolk “describes how collective movement and music create a large context for our lives, a meaning beyond our individual fate”. Hopefully when this pandemic ends, a renewed commitment to community and relationships will be a way to turn this difficult year into a catalyst for many good ones to come.