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Solitude can be Healing

"But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall." Mal. 4.2

International best-selling novelist Jack Engelhard has this to say about the forced solitude that tens of thousands around the world are experiencing right now as victims or potential victims of coronavirus. "Maybe a pause in the way we live is not such a bad thing - not including those who are ill, of course. Maybe it’s not a bad idea -thinking about keeping ourselves at home and apart from other people, owing to the China Virus - at least for a time. The NBA (pro-basketball) has canceled its entire season. Trump suspends travel from Europe. Schools, stadiums, streets, theaters, businesses, subways, dances, parties, all that and more, are canceled, empty, or near empty, in keeping to common sense and the warnings from officials, based on the advice of doctors. Positively Sci-Fi. Did Richard Matheson (“I am Legend”) write this? Stephen King? Ray Bradbury? This is a zombie world – don’t touch, don’t smell, don’t feel, don’t look, don’t interact with strangers, friends, and even members of your own family. Walk alone. Drive alone. Wash hands. Stay off the subways. Keep away from crowds. So perhaps, since this means everybody, everywhere, there won’t be the usual Hamas riots along the Gaza border, thanks to the moratorium, and the gangs in Brooklyn who terrify Jews and even their own people will keep off the streets since they are brave only when part of a mob, but never when they walk alone. The hooligans who trample the streets from Berkeley to Paris, to Brussels, to Teheran may also heed the ban for their own safety. Those might be some of the benefits when an entire world goes on lock-up. Among the champions of voluntary solitude, two come immediately to mind, J.D. Salinger and Michel de Montaigne. They did okay keeping themselves in isolation. Salinger disliked being around people. Just getting touched, even recognized by someone, drove him bonkers. All he did, in his room, was write a great novel. All by himself. There was no audience cheering him or jeering him from stands. Maybe, once-in-a-while, it’s okay to sit back and ride along with nothing more than your imagination, or read a book, instead of turning to Twitter for the cacophony. Alone, in silence, you could find yourself the repository of all the world. You are the exemplar of everyone else. The Talmud thinks so. So did Montaigne (1533-1592), who wrote an essay “On Solitude,” its many rewards, and he was, in fact, the father of the Essay. King David, much earlier gave us the poetic Essay, the Psalms, – never to be matched, or even approached. David’s inspiration and ecstasy came when he was young and alone in the fields as a shepherd. For those of us who need our daily bread of Torah, but mustn’t go out now, the computer came along just in time. With this outbreak, is this heaven’s way of telling us to turn down the volume? It has gotten awfully loud. Maybe we’re being told that it is time to take a pause, retreat, to think about what we are doing, where we are going, and what’s the rush? As the Rebbe and my father used to say…nothing is happenstance…nothing is random. There’s a reason for everything. (VFI News)

"Come, my people, enter your chambers and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past." Isa. 26:20