COVID19 and the Reconciling of Distance and Closeness

“Social distancing” has become a rallying cry to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week’s Torah portion Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1- 5:26), begins with the statement “God called (vayikra – ויקרא) Moshe” to instruct the Jewish people to bring offerings.

In these times of “distancing,” it is noteworthy that the word Vayikra can also mean “to come close” to God.

How do we reconcile distancing with coming close?

The spiritual way to make an offering is to pursue ways that bring us close to God.

The Torah instructs us to “pursue peace” (Psalm 34:14), and “pursue justice” (Deuteronomy 16:20).

Peace requires people to feel close to one another. Justice requires that we distance ourselves from evil.

In these difficult times, we should strengthen our closeness to our fellow man through acts of kindness and harmony. We should also distance ourselves from selfishness and greed.

By following this path, we can heal our world and come close to God.

Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz