By: Rosally Saltsman
The threat of the coronavirus is sending more people into quarantine every day, and most, especially the elderly, are feeling scared and powerless. A key principle of Judaism is the importance of chessed, kindness, and even now there are many things that we can safely do to help others. Moreover, while we’re helping others, we’re also keeping ourselves busy with positive thoughts and actions that distract us from the general undercurrent of negativity and fear, replacing it with kindness, goodness and gratitude—something we all need at this time!
- Stay in Touch
No time before in history has it been as simple to stay connected with people in real time. Whether you’re Skyping, Tweeting, using WhatsApp, FaceTime or Google Hangouts, or just talking on the phone, you can share news, offer encouragement, and give others the feeling they are not alone and that you are thinking of them.
- Offer to Bring Groceries or Run Errands
Being locked up for two weeks makes it difficult to take care of everyday tasks, errands and appointments. Offer to bring things to people’s homes—groceries, work from the office, Sudoku puzzles, inspirational books or reading material, drop off or pick up packages at the post office, or anything else they might need—and leave it outside their door.
Prayers have healing power. Say some Psalms for the person or offer up a heartfelt prayer in your own words. It has even been medically documented that when people know they are being prayed for it gives them strength to heal faster. You can also consider organizing virtual prayer groups, where you divide the Book of Psalms to be said by a number of people, each in their own home.
- Send a Virtual Card
Send your quarantined acquaintance a funny get well card from one of the many virtual greeting card companies. You can also send funny jokes, short insights, interesting stories, or inspirational videos.
- Learn Over the Phone
Share an interesting Torah class that you went to, or study the parshah and the daily Tanya lesson over the phone together. Learning is a great way to make someone homebound feel productive and inject them with a healing dose of spirituality.
- Bring a Bowl of Chicken Soup
Bake a cake, bring a home-cooked meal or some chicken soup, or a special treat from a store that you know they love. Leave it outside their door, then call them and say, “Dinner is served.”
- Livestream What They’re Missing
If you’re at an event that they’re missing – a wedding or bar mitzvah – livestream it so they get to feel part of the celebration, or allow them to video chat with the hosts and wish them “Mazal Tov!”
- Ask Their Advice
Helping someone feel that they are still needed even when they are in need of help themselves is a wonderful gift. Call to ask their advice on a problem you’re having.
- Help Them Reframe with Positive Thinking
Help them reframe and focus on the positive aspects of being in quarantine. They get a rest. They have time to devote to projects they’ve been neglecting. They can spend time with family members that are quarantined with them. Moreover, the whole idea of quarantine is to try and keep as many people healthy as possible, so whoever is subjected to this hiatus from regular life is actually helping keep others stay healthy and there is no greater mitzvah.
- Encourage Faith
Worry and feelings of helplessness are counterproductive, sometimes more debilitating than the sickness itself. What is the key to recovery? A positive outlook and trust in G‑d. Help the quarantined person believe that G‑d is in charge and knows what He is doing, and even though we don’t understand it, this is part of the Divine plan. Help them strengthen their faith in G‑d who is the Source of all goodness and loves us more than we can imagine.
Wishing us all good health!
Rosally Saltsman is a freelance writer originally from Montreal living in Israel.