What should we think and do when we hear about the outbreak of a terrible virus in another part of the world – a virus that destroys most people who come in contact with it? (This question was asked of the Rav zatzal in early 1995 as the Ebola virus was spreading in Africa)
What should we do when we hear about some misfortune, an epidemic or something else, that is happening elsewhere? Of course, the first thing is that we should say, Mah zos asah elokim lanu? That’s number one. It didn’t just happen — Hashem made it happen. That’s the first thing to understand.
The next thing is, what’s the purpose that Hashem had in mind? Then you can start using your intelligence. Now, if those people were uncivilized people, so they deserved to get what they got. They deserve it. Hakodosh Boruch Hu visits upon the wicked certain penalties.
But that’s not all. The most important lessons in the world are for us. אין הקדוש ברוך הוא מביא פורענויות אלא בשביל ישראל – Any misfortune that comes to the world comes for us. Everything in the world is for us. And Rashi says that the purpose is that Yisroel should see and be afraid and that they should do teshuva.
What kind of teshuva should they do? You should be mispallel to Hashem and you Hashkivenu Hashem Elokeinu at maariv, and you should do teshuva for saying those words without kavana for so long. So do teshuva and say it with kavana. והסר ממנו אויב דבר – Dever! And חרב and רעב and יגון. You have to pray to Hashem to protect you. That’s the first teshuva – to pray to Hashem.
So when you’re davening ma’ariv tonight, immediately, that’s our first reaction. Now, there are many other things to do too – but whatever it is, the purpose of what happens in the world is only בשביל ישראל, for the sake of the Am Yisroel.
TAPE # E-9 (March 1995)