Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
So what do we do? There is a famous saying of our sages: “A mitzvah brings another mitzvah, a transgression brings another transgression” (Pirkei Avot 4:2). In other words, if I choose a certain path, it will automatically keep me going in the same direction. In the same spirit, it could be said optimism brings optimism, depression brings depression. If we want to get out of our funk – and we do want to get out of it – we need to first succeed in lifting up our heads. True, these are difficult times. There are a multitude of complaints and they are justified. Sharp criticism is important. But if we all sink into a swamp of despondency, even a million investigations into the movements and contacts of corona cases will not help.
This week Rav Gershon Edelstein was asked for his counsel regarding the period we are going through: “That we should create a pleasant atmosphere, that words should be nicely spoken, without tension, with joyfulness, with a little bit of humor, calmly, with love for everyone”. This is rather surprising. One of our most important rabbis is asked to prescribe a spiritual medicine for the corona and, at the age of 97, he recommends nothing more than a smile, a pleasant demeanor, a sense of proportion.