18 Mar, 2020

Voices: Thoughts on a Quarantined World

18 Mar, 2020

Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein is known as a “Chassidic Renaissance Man.” Since 1985, Klein has been the Executive Director of Chabad at Northwestern University servicing students, faculty and staff. He also brings 33 years of teaching experience to his students. Rabbi Klein is a Brother of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity and currently an Assistant Regional Governor. He is also an international Rabbi and chapter advisor for the Tau Delta chapter. Below, Rabbi Klein shares his thoughts on the impact of COVID-19. For more information about COVD-19 and how it may affect your chapter, click here.

A student of the Tzemach Tzedek asked for a blessing for his seriously ill son. The Rebbe replied in Yiddish: “Tracht Gut Vet Zein Gut – think good and it will be good.” During these ambiguous days when so many people are being diagnosed with Coronavirus, colleges and universities are closing, sports are stopping and even our synagogues are closing, we have become anxious, nervous, scared and afraid of the unknown. Nevertheless, we have to “think good and it will be good.” We must be optimistic and realize this too will pass.

I understand the pain that our Brothers are feeling right now. For some, their final semester of senior year was just taken away from them. For others, they lost a study abroad experience years in the making. For many, some part of their four-year experience is now gone. For some, jobs or internships they were applying for over this summer are now in limbo as recruiters have gone dark. And, for many, their academic plan which may have been specifically tied to completing certain courses, are up in the air.

I understand the frustration and anguish. But, I know how resilient each of us are. Our sages have said “a little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness.” As Jews we have always been able to overcome difficult and trying situations. We have always found the inner strength to be creative and be the best that we can be. We have a long life to live and this is just one small chapter in it. “Think good and it will be good.”

Fear is a funny thing. Fear can bring out the worst in people. But fear can also bring out the very best in us. Our love and loyalty. Our care and kindness. Our support for each other, generosity and appreciation. For a certain few amongst us, fear brings out something different — our choice to be heroic. To stand steady. To hold on to each other. To find a way to hold on to hope and to lean on each other like Brothers and family.

An event like this reminds us of the fragility of our existence. The disruption of our frenzied routines by a force that is beyond our control compels us to pause, to take time to focus on existential matters of life, meaning and purpose. Now is the time to review the quality of our relationships with family—especially parents and grandparents—Brothers, friends and neighbors.

The virus reminds us that none of us lives on an island and that each of us affects others and is affected by others, across oceans and continents. If something as small as a microbe is all it takes to trigger a global crisis, then the opposite is true as well: every deliberate act of goodness that we practice can create a positive universal transformation.

Let us embrace our AEPi Jewish values and summon the courage to respond to this virus responsibly, with generosity and kindness to our fellow human beings. Perhaps you know of an elderly individual or a neighbor in need? Call to check up on them and find a way to bring them food, cheer, or other necessary provisions. Perhaps during this time, you know a Brother or fellow student feeling down, lonely or isolated? Call him or her and lift each other up. Let’s make a commitment to do just a little more in goodness. Remember we are our Brothers’ keeper.

Brothers, be healthy and safe and take care of each other.