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Our Vaccine

01/18/2021 01:01:43 PM


Rabbi Aryeh Feigenbaum


As you all know, I've had my share of health challenges. With the help of Hashem and his agents in the medical profession, the lymphoma that threatened me was put into remission 3.5 years ago. About a month ago I had my regularly scheduled semi-annual check-up, and BH all is very good. I asked my oncologist about the vaccine, and he emphatically encouraged me to get it as soon as the opportunity presented itself. I relate to my doctor’s directives regarding health almost the way I relate to a halachic decision regarding other Torah law, since the Torah charges us with the mitzvah of ונשמרתם מאוד- you shall be exceedingly careful regarding your wellbeing.

The truth is, you and I have been involved with this mitzvah for the better part of a year. Actually, our lives have been turned upside down fulfilling this mitzvah, because social distancing, mask wearing, minyan cancellations, and much more have been undertaken in fulfillment of the mitzvah of self-care in areas of health.  Our society did these things because doctors told us that this was the way to approach the virus.

All the more reason that I related to the rapid development and availability of the vaccine as miraculous. So much of the upheaval and discomfort--especially regarding basic human connection--will be made irrelevant with the widespread availability of the vaccine. 
We must appreciate the ability the Almighty gave the scientists, doctors and experts to achieve this. We know Hashem sends the refuah kodem l’makkah, the solution before the problem, and, interestingly, we are told that the foundation for this vaccine has been in the works for the last 20 years. When we needed it urgently, it was applied. 

So last Wednesday I was told of an opportunity to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at DCHHS and I availed myself of it. The experience was kind of paradoxical:  the typical, mundane bureaucratic experience--waiting in (socially distant) line, being directed to the wrong floor and then the right floor, filling out forms, worrying I could be rejected--was incongruent with the excitement and joy I felt as I finally arrived at my cubicle to receive my miracle dose. An hour and fifteen minutes after I arrived, I was on my way home with appreciation to Hashem on my lips. 

Many are worried about the long-term effects of the vaccine, but I am not one of them. ‘שומר פתאים ה-- Hashem protects the unaware, which halachically means that when we follow the best information available to us through experts and undertake reasonable effort, we do not have to concern ourselves with undetectable potholes that might be there. Those are Hashem’s issues to be concerned with.

It is my tefilla that our hishtadlus, our efforts, bear fruit and bring an end to this pandemic! 

Sun, July 21 2024 15 Tammuz 5784