From Social Isolation to Togetherness – Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei

It would be an understatement to say that these are trying times. A tiny virus measured in nanometers has created a pandemic. People around the world are in self-quarantine. People around the world have gotten sick. And, yes, people around the world have died from this virus. It is a somber time. We live with a sense of uncertainty as to our fate, the fate of our community and the fate of our loved ones. The economy is uncertain with stock markets rising and falling every day and millions worldwide out of work. People are discussing Messianic prophesies.

What does this all mean for us?

Social distancing, doesn’t mean that we ignore the other

This week's parsha is called Vayakhel. Paradoxically, it means that Moshe gathered the people.1 He, in his time, actually brought them together. Yet we find that we are limited by protocols of social distancing and isolation. Rabbi Kenneth Brander noted this paradox. How do we maintain togetherness, he asks, at a time of social isolation? He explains that although we cannot come together physically, we are being called to gather as a community. This is the new challenge.

  1. For those whose hands you won't shake during the day, give them a phone call
  2. For those you cannot hug, find a different method of expressing your love and friendship
  3. When you go shopping, purchase some items for the local charity

This is how you maintain a sense of community. This is how you remain together even though you may be alone. "Social distancing," he says, "doesn’t mean that we ignore the other." 2

We are to maintain our humanity, our dignity and our humor. What is our own range of choice? How do we govern our own time and our behavior? Those with kids and those caring for people with special needs are being presented with a very unique kind of challenge. This is the reality of today.  

Some people have written a basic schedule for meals, physical activity, work, leisure, and family time. Others are more restrictive or less restrictive. One of my own favorites is once you do meet people, you give them elbow bumps – everyone seems to be smiling at those. And smiling is definitely good for our emotional and noetic health.3

My teacher, Dr. Teria Shantall wrote that "as the pandemic has brought the world to its knees it has also brought out the best in us in our efforts to fight the pandemic and halt its spread as it has drawn us together in the assistance and care we are showing each other."4

Together and alone, or alone and together, we can ensure that humanity is enhanced, our communities are kept strong and that we can each find our own individual meaning within.

*Image by 9091 images on Pixabay


  1. Shemot 35:1
  2. Rabbi Brander magically says his whole message in two minutes -
  3. Doctor Viktor Frankl speaks in his book Man's Search for Meaning about how we may need to view certain situations as totally different from what we know and therein lies the need to adapt or forever live with regret and frustration. It is our choice.
  4. Dr Shantall wrote this in a Facebook post

Have A Great Shabbat!laughing

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