Word of the Month: A plea to get vaccinated

D’var Torah
Rabbi Chaim Litvin

Numerous synagogues have joined the vaccine supporters and urged their congregations to take full advantage of the vaccines being offered. Our rabbis and cantors lead by example.
This month, the vaccine is being offered at synagogues throughout the country from Sept. 7 through 29. I encourage everyone to take full advantage of this program.
Remember, there is nothing so precious as life: a life filled with love of family, love of community and love of G-d.
I understand that some people, although a very small percentage of people, have natural immunity to this pandemic. But for the 99.99 percent, which is basically all of us, the vaccine is a life-saving requirement and cannot be trivialized.
This illness is the greatest threat imaginable and as time goes by, it only gets worse. It inhibits our ability to sense things, to smell, to taste and even to breathe. Have you received your vaccination?
By now, you may have realized that I am not referring to a physical ailment, but a spiritual one. (Although I do encourage everyone to get the COVID vaccine.)
This ailment doesn’t cause a heightened temperature, but a lowered one, and once it affects people, they become cold. Cold to our faith and cold to friends and community. The pandemic I am referring to is that of apathy.
There are only two ways to fight any such illness: First, from within, with your natural spiritual antibodies. People who can do this are called tzadikim (righteous ones); they have natural spiritual immunity and always remain passionate and excited no matter what happens in their lives.
However, for the rest of us, the only other way to combat such an ailment is with a spiritual vaccine, an inspiring shot to the soul that helps your natural body fight off such a challenge and remain warm.
Synagogues have been offering this annual vaccine all month, from Rosh Hashanah, with the blowing of the shofar, to the fast on Yom Kippur.
These final annual shots will be offered during Yizkor memorial prayers on Sept. 28 and dancing with the Torah on Sept. 29. If you haven’t had your annual vaccine yet, please take advantage of it, ASAP.
By now, we all know that one shot is not enough. So, there are booster shots being offered throughout the year: Chanukah, Purim and Passover.
I also strongly believe in wearing a mask. If someone wants to gossip about someone else or share some juicy tidbit that would detract from another person’s honor or prestige (in Hebrew, the word for honor is covod), just point to your mask and say, “sorry, this is a gossip-free zone.”
I am sure that when G-d sees us taking all these steps, with love to one another and following in the teachings and traditions of our faith, G-d will surely bless us with long life, good health, and much happiness in the upcoming year.
In fact, if we all do these things together, we may finally be able to travel again – on the ultimate trip with Moshiach (messiah) to visit Jerusalem together and see and worship G-d in the third and eternal Temple.

(Rabbi Chaim Litvin is chief executive officer of the Bourbon Rabbi.)

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