Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
I was in this same auditorium a year ago with 4,000 Chabad emissaries. Yesterday, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky who oversees Chabad religious and educational institutions worldwide, stood there alone, without an audience. The famous annual photo of the emissaries was not taken since everyone had been requested to stay home due to the corona. During such a difficult period, the message of Rabbi Kotlarsky to the thousands of Chabad emissaries who watched, and to the entire Jewish world, was especially important:
“In this week’s Torah portion, our Father Yitzchak finds himself facing a difficult test. His enemies plug up all the wells that his father Avraham had dug. What does he do? He goes and digs new wells. He finds new ways to reach fresh water. We face a similar challenge today. Synagogues are closed, congregations cannot meet, people cannot even make it to a Passover Seder or to a Rosh Hashanah service. What do we do? We go out and dig new wells. We give remote classes and learn online, we send hundreds of thousands of Seder kits to people who never held a Seder all by themselves, we conduct prayer services outdoors according to the guidelines. We could have taken account of the corona and said: ‘We’re sorry, this is a time when we want to act – but we simply cannot’. But this is not the answer. We can always find new ways.
“What is the exact prescription needed to remedy this situation? Sometimes when someone is sick and the doctors do not know the exact medication to give, they prescribe a medication cocktail. They simply take the best from everything. So too must we do at the present time. We must take from all the good and healing things that we have – kindness, Torah, tefillin, tzedakah, mezuzah, prayer. This is the way to move the world forward to the end of this plague, to true and complete redemption.”