Points of Light

Points of Light Rabbi Avi Weiss

March 27, 2020

Can anything push away the darkness of the coronavirus?

The world is grim these days. COVID-19 has driven people indoors. Streets are desolate. Spirits are low.

The dangers of the hour and the global pain and suffering are very real, but there may also be points of light that we can take away.


With the advances of humankind, we often think we're in absolute control. We regard the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages, which killed one-third of Europe's population, and the Spanish flu, which took 50 million lives in the early 20th century, as things of the past. Indeed, we believe we know more than the populations who lived through these upheavals, but truly, whatever advances in knowledge we might have made are only a small fraction of a much bigger unknown picture.

We’re all in this together: Pride in our ethnic group, religion or nationality often defines who we are and is the focus of our energies even as it separates us from each other. COVID-19 reinforces the teaching that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. The pandemic knows no colour, no faith, no borders.

Physical distancing, social closeness:

Over and over we’ve heard the call to “socially distance” ourselves from others. And yet, while on the surface COVID-19 has physically separated us, in other ways it has become the catalyst to socially connect us in new ways. Perhaps, as I’ve heard suggested, the term “social distancing” should be replaced with