Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as “a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock.” After nearly a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fair to say that many Americans suffer from PTSD. I am not trying to make excuses for aberrant behavior, but I am trying to get a handle on what is happening in America and around the globe. The United States had witnessed more than its share of abnormal behavior in 2020. The year 2021 has not been any better so far. Cool heads are far and few between. Humility and respect are in short supply.

Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld, of blessed memory, reached the pinnacle of rabbinical success on so many levels. He was the model pulpit rabbi. He was a major Torah scholar and poseik. A snapshot of him can be found in an interview he did with Jewish Action in 2008. The following is an excerpt of his: “Basically, the changes came about with siyata diShmaya (help from Above). It’s the natural way of Torah to inspire people, to cause them to rethink what life is all about” “A rabbi’s job has also changed tremendously; (he is no longer) somebody who (just) answers occasional questions about Yaaleh V’Yavo, R’tzei, and Al HaNisim. Today, the rabbi has to be a qualified psychiatrist, psychologist, and above all, social worker –which is really what Moshe Rabbeinu was.”

If 2020 was supposed to be a year of high visual acuity and clarity, it failed miserably – 20/20 vision it was not. In a year when a dreadful pandemic should have brought the world closer and more united, it made it more polarized and more overheated.

Having just attended President Trump’s Chanukah celebration, I decided to dedicate some time to a man who ranks as one of the top Jewish activists of all time. His name is Robert (Bob) Jacobs. He should live and be well. Without even knowing it, he had a tremendous effect on my life (and many others, as well), and my involvement in Jewish causes.