Rabbi Moshe Pitchon

Rabbi Moshe Pitchon

Reading the TaNaKh in the 21st century

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The Human Project is Moving Painfully, But, It is Fine

The Effects of Covid 19

Death makes it impossible for us to ignore our human vulnerability and impotence. We try to deflect the emotional effect of a human’s life disappearance by thinking digitally: 1… 10… thousands…hundreds of thousands…the higher the number the lesser the pain.

Contextualization is another of our strategies to mitigate death’s impact. The biological rhythm, age, circumstances… Anybody who has lost a loved one, however, knows that nothing attenuates the void in our lives caused by being unable to see, hug, talk to our loved ones.

If anything compares to the emotional devastation caused by death, it is only the fear of dying. Our inability to control death is one of the greatest sources of anguish in our lives.

From its very beginning humanity turned to religion to find some kind of relief from the terror and agony caused by death. It found it in religion’s claim that sin was the cause of death. Theoretically, now death could be, if not prevented, at least managed. Even when this explanation failed, religion maintained its appeal by claiming that death is not final.

Would we- plain and simple- accept that die we must, it wouldn’t really matter when and what causes it. But, the human project has always been to eradicate death. Generation after generation we seem to edge closer to our objective pinpointing more precisely our enemies and neutralizing them.

Besides the armies of large nations, the killers of the past century were the bacteria – small-pox 3 million, malaria,1 million. Then the improvement in hygiene and prophylaxis completed by the discovery of antibiotics added 30 years to human- life expectancy. If in 1900 the average life expectancy of people in many countries around the world was 47 seven years by 2002 that expectation had already become 77 years.

True, our self-inflicted wounds- addiction, environmental degradation, poverty, war and human-errors, degenerative diseases, cancer-keep the eradication of death still a far dream. Today, however, we are well enough positioned to ensure that viruses will not continue killing us.


Incredible pools of human-talent and technological resources all over the world are focused on the eradication of this scourge. At least 254 therapies and 95 vaccines to treat Covid 19 are in the works and the discovery and manufacturing of pan viral vaccines and medications capable of coping with what may come is feasible and at a cost of no more than $1 per every human being on earth.

If there is still any major obstacle, it is human resolve, not its ability. Will is an elusive commodity, one that has kept the door ajar for human threatening viral infections such as SARS, Ebola, and certainly HIV.

Covid-19 has all the potential to become a game-changer in preventing viral infections because this time the lessons from previous epidemics seem to have finally sunken-in. Epidemics, after all, force societies to acknowledge their values.

Despite the efforts of some rulers trying to manipulate the pandemic for political gains, it has become clear that expertise and institutions matter and that there is such a thing as a global community.

Religion also is coming around, understanding that God’s omnipotence is not so much the power to control but the power to enable. Human beings have the capability, and with it, the responsibility to make the world in which we live a less threatening and disruptive environment.

Whether these lessons will take root and will change the way we think and how we handle the world we live in depends on each of us. We now understand that we have the power and the obligation to play a role in managing, at least, how and when we die.

Governments and scientists are empowered by citizens to act following their recommendations and assurances. However, it is up to the people of the world to disentangle themselves from the blaming, the jealousies games, and poorly conceived save-facing theological doctrines to defend the ultimate object of human responsibility: life.

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