The Seven-Headed Serpent We Call COVID-19

There is a two-thousand-year-old story in the Talmud (Kiddushin 29b) that describes how a mazik, a destructive force, took over the study hall of Rabbi Abayeh. This mazik was jeopardizing the well-being of his students, harming them when they would walk in. Rabbi Abayeh was not able to remove the mazik and protect his students. Rabbi Yaakov bar Acha, a righteous, spiritual man, traveled a great distance to Rabbi Abayeh’s study hall to see what was going on. Upon learning that he was coming, Rabbi Abayeh instructed the people of his town not to offer hospitality to Rabbi Yaakov. Rabbi Abayeh hoped that he would have no choice but to lodge in the study hall. Perhaps, Rabbi Yaakov’s righteousness and spirituality would diminish the power of the mazik. Indeed, Rabbi Yaakov had to lodge in the study hall. When he entered, the mazik approached him, appearing as a seven-headed serpent. Rabbi…