Oftentimes, when people start a story by saying, “I’m not proud of this…” the truth is that they really are rather proud of whatever they are fake-confessing. But I am really, really not proud of this. What I did was just plain incredibly stupid. It was a male sort of thing. Honestly, I wouldn’t even mention it if it didn’t help me make an important point for this Thought Tool.
When one of our lovely daughters turned six, she asked for a sleepover party. Accordingly, in the late afternoon, about a dozen excited little girls between the ages of five and seven were dropped off at our home in their pyjamas. They had supper together before burrowing into blankets and sleeping bags in our living room, chattering and giggling.
That was the moment I donned my rented gorilla costume. Beating my chest while uttering gorilla-like roars, I leaped into the living room and pranced among the sleeping bags. Yes, I really did. I hate myself for this and all I can say is that it was a male sort of thing. Little boys would have loved it. (I was so sure Susan and our daughter would love my exciting plan that I neglected to inform them in advance.)
But these weren’t little boys. They were little girls. Sweet, trusting, gentle little girls. With their tiny hearts pounding and screams of hysteria strangled in their constricted throats they shot into the bathroom and locked the door. After about five hours (well, it seemed five to me, but it might have been half an hour) the screams had subsided to gasping sobs. Then they called their parents to come pick them up. It was quite a birthday party. For the next month, all I got whenever I encountered the girls or their mothers were reproachful glares.
I said that the purpose of recounting this tragic tale was to make a point. It is this: Had I bounded into my daughter’s room one evening in that gorilla suit she would probably have looked up and said, “Hello Daddy, why are you dressed like that?” It takes many people together to create fear, hysteria and panic.
It’s just like a nuclear reaction. Scatter twenty one-kilogram balls of uranium 235 around your house. Nothing. Now throw them all together in one big box and you’ve got—Chernobyl. Hard to terrify one little girl but easy to make a dozen of them turn into a panic-stricken, hysterical throng.
The really surprising thing is that adults are no different. Walk in on your brother sitting and quietly reading his newspaper and yell, “Fire!”. He’ll slowly look up and ask, “Where?” However, if you try the same thing in the proverbial crowded theater, you know exactly what will happen.
Groups of people can give one another courage but they can also feed one another’s fears until it becomes a self-sustaining reaction of sheer thoughtless panic. Take a look at this verse:
…and your foes shall dominate you. You will flee though nobody pursues you.
In English, unlike in Hebrew, the second person personal pronoun ‘you’ can be singular or plural. See this sentence:
I will now throw you out of this club.
We can’t tell if the ‘you’ in this sentence means just one person or a crowd about to be evicted.
But in Hebrew, the word for you (singular) is different from you (plural). Thus, the correct translation of Leviticus 26:17 might read like this:
…and your foes shall dominate y’all (plural). Y’all will flee though nobody pursues y’all.
Every day you and I get in our cars and drive somewhere. Imagine that every time you opened your newspaper the headlines informed you how many people died in car accidents over the past 24 hours? Suppose every time you turned on your computer, some uninvited banner revealed the accumulated road fatalities for the year? What would it be like if everyone repeatedly warned you that getting behind the wheel of your car exposes you to a real chance of dying in an accident? Consider what it would be like if many times a day newscasters and pundits reminded you that America’s road fatality rate was 120 per million of population (which it is).
Compare this with the Covid-19 rate which officialdom claims for America of just double the road fatality rate. It is 240 deaths per million population.
If we shut down the country for a death rate of 240 per million, shouldn’t we at least do something about a death rate of 120 per million? How about a national speed limit of 25 miles per hour. That would do it.
Why isn’t this entirely logical restraint occurring? Simply because politicians and pundits are not talking about road deaths. Fear and panic are seldom caused by facts and figures. Instead, they are caused by emotions and feelings. Celebrities are not tweeting about the need to flatten the curve and stop people dying in their cars. Neither is the media toasting our brains with non-stop coverage of road fatalities by state and age. We don’t anxiously compare our road mileage exposure with our neighbors. But the media connects all our collective corona concerns and binds us into one colossal, terrified, corona mob.
Yes, connection with others can certainly cause fear to flourish and spread like wildfire. But company can also engender courage. Anyone who has faced peril alone knows how different it is when that same danger is confronted together with brave comrades.
It falls to ancient Jewish wisdom to explain when we manage to stare down adversity with confidence and determination and when fear gets the better of us and we join our fellows in panic as we trip over our own feet in our desperation to escape. Escape what? Fear itself of course.
Commitment to a value system brings courage. Why do military men always have stories of valor? For the same reason the military presents medals to those who exhibit that valor. The military is built on a value system. The result is courage.
Secularism is the formal annihilation of a God-centric value system and the obliteration of hierarchical structure. Not surprisingly, cowardice is the legacy of secularism while fear and panic are its constant attendants. Secularism in the west has coated everything with fear.
A Scandinavian teenager wins acclaim when her voice trembles with fear over climate change.
Income inequality is frightening because it will plunge us into civil disorder.
People who swore to uphold the Constitution abuse their power to trample on it, citing fear for the end of the American republic because the nation elected a leader not of their choice.
You must fear artificial intelligence because it will create robotic monsters who will attack us.
And yes, a panic- proliferating elite pulverizes our healthy economy, destroying lives, medical centers, medical research, civil rights and much more as they spread fear rather than dealing with an admittedly serious virus with mature and measured steps.
We’re long past the original fear of hospitals being overrun, so why not pull back instead of increasing the severity of lock-down laws? Because hysteria and panic never self-modulate. The crowd continues to stampede even after it is evident that there is no fire.
Secularism has indeed made us all vulnerable to fear.
But if you do not obey Me and do not observe all these commandments, and if you reject My laws and spurn My rules, so that you do not observe all My commandments…
…and your foes shall dominate y’all. Y’all will flee though nobody pursues y’all.
Yes, if you reject God’s value system then you will flee even when nobody is pursuing you. Secularism makes a crowd fear just about anything. And everything.
47 thoughts on “Pandemic Pandemonium”
Is there any connection to this “secondary” infection I call the Coronavirus Hysteria Fever and the group think which allowed the Holocaust to occur? I an reading “Something Beautiful Happened” by Yvette Manessis Corporon. It is the story about her family hiding Jews on a small island near Corfu and her relatives who were killed in Overland, Kansas in 2014 by a Neo-Nazi. While the Nazis tried to exterminate all Jews, it seems like this present situation could exterminate many more through starvation as well as kill the systems which have given us so many benefits. And is there a connection between fear and hatred? It seems those who hate President Trump are the primary fear mongers.
I was told that the commandment to “Fear Not” was in the Bible 365 times. If that’s true then it’s true for every day of the year! 😁 Even if it’s not true, it’s a great command. The L-rd doesn’t wring His hands over things, nor should we. Thank you! You always bring a great word!!!
It is baffling how people in power use fear to execute tyranny on the masses. I have also find out that when men turn away from God, they turn themselves to authors of tyranny who use whatever means, fear being one, to achieve their aims.
Ironic that is was FDR who said “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” when it was his administration that started the big secular push in the U.S.
THANK YOU rabbi!!!! I am a pastor from Russia. Great thought provoking article….
Thank you Pastor Andre,
Blessings on your holy work.
Before having read your elucidating artical (I will call the fearful folks lemmings), I was always muttering to myself , “Godless people. The fearful leemings are Godless people. ” Thank you and Susan, Psalm 91 upon you and yours.
My church plans on conducting services this week with restrictions, namely masks. Never thought that I would see the day that I would attend services to worship the Living God while wearing a mask. Something doesn’t sit well.
Did you ever think you’d see the day when you would enter a bank wearing a mask?
I do have to admit I got three chuckles out of this Thought Tool, you in the gorilla suit and the ya’ll, not once but twice In the message. Always good godly information.
Goodnight, all y’all.
And this article is why I so love you and Mrs. Lapin, Rabbi! The girls’ slumber party story will make me laugh forever. “Y’all” have been my model for family, marriage, and fun for years now, and I have become a better person for it. Since secularism is viciously trying to destroy family values, I am grateful for the bulwark of virtue which is your ministry.
Thank you dear Dianne–
Your encouraging words are so uplifting.
Your analogy of the death rate by auto accidents makes tremendous sense! A spirit of fear is unleashed on our nation. My governor (MD) seems to be under it!
I have a grammatical question: You said: “In Hebrew, unlike in English, the second person personal pronoun ‘you’ can be singular or plural. See this sentence: I will now throw you out of this club. We can’t tell if the ‘you’ in this sentence means just one person or a crowd about to be evicted. But in Hebrew, the word for you (singular) is different from you (plural). Thus, the correct translation of Leviticus 26:17 might read like this: …and your foes shall dominate y’all (plural). Y’all will flee though nobody pursues y’all. ” Shouldn’t it be “In English, unlike Hebrew, the second person personal pronoun. “you’ can be singular or plural”?
I do believe you are right, Sharon. I think we need to correct this. I’m just going to let my husband have the final word since Thought Tools is his creation.
Thank you. I am not a nit-picker. Proofreading is part of my job. Blessings to all!
We appreciated it Pastor Knotts.
Want to run your eye over all our writing before we publish?
Good proofreaders are hard to find.
Daniel – I’ve long enjoyed your thoughtful approach to significant issues since first reading “Thou Shall Prosper.” Thank you for calling folks out of a fear stupor to look and think critically, as our God so consistently invites us to throughout Scriptures for thousands of years. As the writer of Ecclesiastes would say, “There is nothing new under the sun!”
Thank you Mike–
The only thing I’d correct is that I wasn’t “calling out folks”. I am usually talking to myself and I just let my friends eavesdrop!
Brilliant commentary. Thanks for the perspective. The rejection of Godly values in society eventually leads to it’s destruction….I believe this is what we are slowly seeing (no matter how much our political masters crow about coming back stronger and better than ever).
And I would just LOVE to say that I think your gorilla costume shindig is absolutely hilarious. Is there any photographic or video footage of this incident? I think it’s just great. I myself had a gorilla costume in my youth with which I wreaked havoc many a time. Loved that suit!!!
That would be a no, Celesta. We were too busy dealing with screaming girls to take pictures.
Dear Rabbi: I always appreciate your wisdom. This time your wisdom is sobering. The current situation is one step closer to losing other freedoms, including religious liberty.
Excellent article! This turned political when poorly managed states heavily in debt ( I happen to live in one) are now looking to the Federal Government via C ovid 19 to bail them out blaming you know who for EVERY ONE OF THEIR fiscal problems now! Continued daily prayers united under One God to help us all see clearly what the underlying motives really are.
Love you and Susan. Have read 2 of your books and watch you on T C T . Shalom,
I see your point with your initial examples with your daughter and yelling “fire” in a crowd…however, I think it’s misapplied to the Corona pandemic…the initial percentages of death were higher than they are now, and I believe were even increasing. Regardless, it was definitely a new threat to the entire world, and to get it under control, and possibly cure it, you need to calmly change social behavior and in fact, get it under control. Once you stabilize the threat (cases and death rate), put people in charge of possible vaccines, and have a new social behavior (donning masks are acceptable), then you can proceed with reopening services.
Thank you for your great insights, they’ve been a great help to me.
You’re welcome Wayne–
By the way, your prescription is based on many presumptions about which flow much misinformation and doubt.
Great stuff (as always)!
May we promote contagious courage!
Thank you Jamison,
So much appreciated. Especially the alliteration!
Excellent thoughts, as usual. One of the scariest aspects of this entire ordeal is how easily the public has been kowtowed into accepting the complete loss of civil rights thrust upon society by its leaders, and how helpless it turns out we are to affect the decisions of those leaders–however illogical and irrational their decrees may be.
If that frightening fact makes it into the hearts of our fellow citizens, and indeed perhaps in other countries as well, then perhaps some good will have emerged from this insanity. Would they say that no military engagement be embarked on unless the generals can assure the country of no casualties? Will all peacetime exercises be canceled until the General Staff can flatten the curve of military training accidents? Docile acceptance of authority is actually scarier than any virus.
Thank you Rabbi. I never thought of you as being a southern Rabbi!
Not for nothing am I known as ‘the Redneck Rabbi’ south of the M.D. line!
I pray each morning for wisdom and guidance. My husband is fired up daily about ‘the Democrat’s’ ‘People are minions’ etc but his blustering does not help me. As a wife I will stand with him but for comfort and assurance I will seek God. Thank you for this message. What I read in the scriptures is that regardless of our circumstances God’s people need to pray and the Word of God must go out and bring glory to God. Would the resources you suggest help me gain understanding as a Christian? I do believe that Jesus is Messiah. I also believe the Jewish people are God’s chosen ones. Can I still benefit from this material? Thank you! 😊
Vast numbers of Christians in the US, Canada, Africa, Europe and Asia derive great Biblical insight from ancient Jewish wisdom. I typically teach in about 20 churches each year.
I cannot attest for the vast numbers, but I do attest that this Christian in the US derives great Biblical insight from ancient Jewish wisdom. Another spot-on Thought Tools.
Thank you for your kind endorsement. Means so much to us and we cherish your friendship.
So well spoken. Thanks for your constant wisdom on real life matters, and the humor you bring with it.
Sometimes we must make sure we find time to laugh, right? It’s one of the distinctions between us and animals. In spite of many pet owners insisting to the contrary, your dog is not smiling and your goldfish is not chuckling. It’s a way of reaffirming our divine conferred uniqueness as humans touched by the finger of God.
This is a great article. I would take it even a step further and ask, “What is the purpose to create so much fear?” So that frightened people will cry for a solution, and one happens to be formulating in the wings…a vaccine with a biochip implant for everyone…..beware!
That question deserves the answer that I have provided on my weekly podcast over the past few weeks. Increasing the funding allocation for CDC, NIH, and other agencies. Keeping ambitious politicians in front of cameras. Increasing size of government. Yes, money and power are strong motivators and fear is a perfect tool of tyranny. And secularized people are highly receptive to fear and docile to its consequences.
Rabbi Lapin, you are so right it is so hard to get people to be rational and think clearly when they are under fear. I tried to explain to my family and friends that you can’t shout down an economy and not have bad consequences. Although, at the time I didn’t realize that the government was trying to slow the spread and not stop COVID 19. Somehow this message has gotten lost and people believe that the only way not to get the virus and die is not to be in large groups or to be 6 ft away and wearing masks. This assumption is what’s causing fear and distrust among us including the physical abuse we’re witnessing by both police and citizens alike.
Thanks for your write up. I always enjoy reading your write ups. I like to learn the Hebrew language, so that I can have a deeper understanding of the Word of God, since it was written in Hebrew and Greek.
How can you help me in this quest for knowledge of Him, that will lead to strong relationship with my Father. I live in Canada.
I thank you for all you do, and God bless you really good.
Thanks for being part of our learning congregation here online. Even if you’re in Canada, you’re right here with us all. Of course we can help you gain deeper knowledge into the mind of God and what He expects of us. That’s why we’re here. Spend some time on our website and scrutinize available resources. We think you’ll be quite excited at the growth possibilities.
This is what Jewish learning meant to me as a child in Chicago, we would go there every year for our school clothes we knew it as Jew town but you can’t call it that anymore and besides it’s no longer there but there are things that remain that reminds me of that bygone era.
(In accordance with our policy we removed the youtube link)
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