On Sunday, April 19, Agudath Israel of America and United Task Force hosted an uplifting and informative live-stream lecture with Dr. David Pelcovitz. Dr. Pelcovitz began with ideas about general anxiety. He noted how right now we are dealing with an invisible force. First, you have to say to yourself that feeling anxious is a totally normal reaction to an abnormal event. This fear is my body doing its job. “Be kind to yourself,” he emphasized. The normal reaction in this situation is to go into a “fight or flight” response. The key is to be compassionate to yourself. “Create a space in yourself for fear, and remember that we are not defined by this fear.”

 On Tuesday night, March 19, Chazaq and TorahAnytime hosted a livestream shiur titled “Chizuk for Turbulent Times.” First, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, rav of Agudath Israel Bais Binyomin in Brooklyn, imparted that we should follow the guidelines of the government and of the g’dolei Yisrael. “We are completely in the hands of the Ribbono shel Olam. This mageifah is teaching us that it’s all HaKadosh Baruch Hu.” Now, we can’t daven b’tzibur. We can’t learn in typical fashion. Children are denied the privilege to protect klal Yisrael.

On Thursday night, March 26, Chazaq, TorahAnytime.com, Thank You Hashem, and Ohr Naava hosted a night of chizuk, live-streamed on TorahAnytime.com.

The first speaker, Rabbi Ari Berkowitz, Director of Thank You Hashem, shared, “When you thank Hashem, you become positive.” He taught that it’s good to thank Hashem if things look bad, and that you should thank Him then more. A lot of times we don’t know why something is happening. We should remember that everything Hashem does is for our best interest. He’s our Father. “Start thanking Hashem for all the times we had shul, a job, school. Don’t look at what we don’t have. Look at what we do have. He’ll give us so many more reasons to thank Him.” He asked everyone to call Thank You Hashem with what they are grateful for. It’s important to share what you are thankful for in public. The email address and phone number for Thank You Hashem are: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 929-331-7200.

Next, Rabbi Fischel Schachter, well-known speaker, author, and storyteller, suggested that we write down ten things for which we are thankful. If you are angry at someone, write ten good things about that person. The Alshich teaches that the more you thank Hashem for things, the more He gives you. It is a s’gulah to bentch slowly with kavanah. If you put your heart into it and are genuinely happy with what you have, then this is a s’gulah to becoming rich. Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l had a special nigun for Birkas HaMazon.

Following this, Rabbi Yona Weiss, well-known speaker, shared that this challenge right now is here for us to draw closer to Hashem. The Baal Shem Tov taught that all r’fuos can be learned from the first pasuk of Vayikra, where it says that Hashem called to Moshe. The alef is smaller. When Hashem takes things away, our first instinct is to appreciate what we are missing. We have this idea that everything is coming to us or owed to us, and we don’t realize that everything we have is a gift from Hashem. Here, Moshe was asking for a free gift. He asked in the proper way, with a small alef, because he knew it was a free gift and it’s teaching us this is the proper way to ask Hashem. Realize everything is a free gift from Him. Tzadikim have total humility and they have hakaras ha’tov. “In a time like this, we need to realize that things are not automatic that we are supposed to have things. We have to live life with the realization that everything is a gift. When Hashem sees that we appreciate it, then He’ll let us keep these gifts.”

The last speaker, Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, Founder of Ohr Yitzchak, Ateres Naava Seminary for Girls, and Ohr Naava Women’s Institute in Brooklyn, and well-known speaker, shared: “There’s no question that hakaras ha’tov has to do with what’s going on now.” He then taught how, in the story of Creation, it states that no grass came because a human was not there to work the ground, yet it says that on the third day Hashem created the grass and trees. This appears to be a contradiction. He explained that the trees and grass were created, but they were below the surface. The ground was dry and brown with no vegetation. Rashi explained that Hashem waited for a person who would appreciate the rain. He prayed and it rained and then the earth was full of green vegetation. It says in the Chumash that there was no person to do the avodah, the work. Avodah here means to daven.

He then asked how our davening has changed in the last three weeks. We need to think about appreciating a minyan. How do we show this? We show this by not talking in shul and by not leaving early or making kiddush parties and clubs. We are the defense of the world.

Two things are continuous with this plague and they are: Cover your mouth and your hands. Hashem gave us a mouth to compliment people, to daven, and to learn. We abused it. The COVID-19 can allude to kavod-19, meaning have respect for the 19 blessings in Sh’moneh Esrei. “Give kavod to t’filah.” We must wash our hands all the time. “Wash hands from sins.” Hands represent actions and deeds. Cover your mouth and wash your deeds. “The more appreciation you show for what Hashem gives you, the more he gives you.”

This can be viewed on www.Torahanytime.com.

 By Susie Garber