Was the COVID Pandemic Sent by God?
With their advanced weaponry and massive army, the Chinese Communist Party may possibly be the most powerful atheist enemy of Hashem and the Torah in history. The evidence seems to strongly indicate that they are the cause of the COVID-19 bio-weapon now terrorizing the world.
Erroneous, fatalistic beliefs that “everything is caused by God” serve to deflect any blame being attributed to monstrous evils such as the rabidly atheist and very powerful Chinese Communist Party. It is a function of the Jews to be a “light to the nations” and to teach ethical monotheism to the world while aggressively opposing atheist evil such as the Chinese Communist Party.
The current coronavirus pandemic has produced a number of simplistic or erroneous claims that IMHO are not normative Torah viewpoints. I would like to present here some classical Torah sources (CTS) that I believe are more representative of normative Torah viewpoints.
The term "CLAIM" below refers to various claims that I have heard during the Coronavirus pandemic that I consider to be erroneous or simplistic.
CLAIM: “The coronavirus pandemic was caused by God.” RESPONSE: We could only know that the pandemic was caused by God (and not by man) through a prophet who reveals that information to us. Present day rabbis, Torah scholars, and Kabbalists do not qualify as prophets. The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim II:36 explains - “prophecy was taken away during the time of the exile...prophecy has ceased to function.”. The Rambam cites Amos 8:12: “Men shall wander from sea to sea and from north to east to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.”.
CLAIM: “God has inflicted the coronavirus on the world as a punishment.” RESPONSE: A more correct viewpoint, based on Rambam, Ramchal, Sforno, and other sources, is that “hester panim”, (i.e. the hiding of God’s face, see Deut. 31:17), means that God allows man’s evil to grow powerful and Jews suffer as a result, but God is not causing that evil Himself. Rather man’s sins cause God to withdraw his protection from the good people in the world. In Moreh Nevuchim 3:10, the Rambam cites a Midrash:
“Nothing that is evil descends from above”.
In Moreh Nevuchim 1:23, the Rambam explains that “I will hide my face from them...”(Deut. 31:17) results in “a privation of providence that leaves one abandoned and a target to all that may happen.”
The Biblical commentator Sforno is a great source for authentic classical Torah beliefs, such as the Sforno’s commentary on Leviticus 13:47 where he teaches that most Jews are subject to the natural order.
Since early 2020, the worldwide disaster of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the news. Without a prophet, we do not have a right to claim Hashem caused the bio-terrorism of COVID-19. A Torah concept that seems to have been abandoned is the correct understanding of Hashem hiding His face. The great Biblical commentator Sforno explains that Davarim 31:18 (“I will hide my face”) means that Hashem will refrain from saving the Jews from evil nations who abuse and oppress the Jews, it does NOT mean that Hashem causes evil nations to commit evil.
In various sections of his brilliant sefer Daat Tevunot, Ramchal explains that when there is no merit in the world and wickedness abounds, Hashem says “I will hide My presence on that day” (Devarim 32:20). Thus, Hashem is allowing man’s evil to reach its maximum strength but Hashem is not causing man to do evil. Hashem must do this to avoid destroying the world. If Hashem’s intention were strict judgment, man’s sins would already have caused the world to be destroyed. When there is “hester panim”, even good people must endure the suffering that evil causes and the merit of the righteous will not save them from evil. (See Ramchal, Daat Tevunot sections 142, 166 and elsewhere).
If COVID-19 was truly a punishment from God, it would not be possible for many people to have been saved using medicines (such as hydroxychloroquine), masks, distancing, etc. We can conclude from the sources above that man’s sins do cause evil to grow in the world, but the evil is not produced by God, it is produced by man. The "yeshua" (rescue) of decent people who suffer from these evils then depends on God's actions in the world to rescue the oppressed.
- CLAIM: “The Chinese Communists who produced the coronavirus are only the agents or puppets of God in carrying out His will.” RESPONSE: Such a belief is a very dangerous denial of the fundamental Torah belief that all men have free will to do good or evil. Without man having free will, the Torah becomes meaningless.
“Every man was endowed with a free will; if he desires to bend himself toward the good path and to be just it is within the power of his hand to reach out for it, and if he desires to bend himself to a bad path and to be wicked it is within the power of his hand to reach out for it.” (Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah 5:1)