Forgot To Bring Blood

So I go for some blood work today.


Lady pokes my arm, and nothing comes out. 


She moves the point of the needle around and around– still no blood. 

 

She says: “Hey, it’s your fault!”


I say: 

You’re right, no one told me that I was supposed to bring blood with me today. 


She looks up and says, “Okay let’s try the other arm!”


Then she spanks the arm…and I blurt out laughing, “hey do that again!”


Then poke, poke, and the blood easily fills a half dozen tubes.


She’s said, “You see that worked!”


I said:

I only brought blood in my right arm today!


If I could read her mind: “Ok, get the F*** out of the office.”


But she was nice and actually says, “You can get your results in about 3 days.”  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Coronavirus: A Modern Leprosy

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Coronavirus: A Modern Leprosy.”

What an interesting time this week during the coronavirus for my bar-mitzvah parshas of Tazria and Metzora, where we learn about how to handle someone with the plague of leprosy…What’s fascinating though for our times is that right here in the Torah, long before medical science understood germs, washing of hands, and disinfectants, we have the first instruction on quarantining someone who is sick. The person with leprosy is deemed impure and is put outside the camp in quarantine, repeatedly checked (e.g. tested) by the Kohen, until they are healed, at which time they are purified before being allowed back in. What we don’t see with leprosy is that the whole community is put in a state of quasi quarantine as we are doing now globally with the coronavirus.


In the end, I see this coronavirus blowing up with some people forever anxious and germophobic and others becoming complacent and careless about the whole thing. Either way there will be more sick and dying people, as well as anger at the system that over time repeatedly failed us. This week’s parsha is a good reminder to go back to the ultimate wisdom of the Torah and read again how we handle the leper and manage with a thoughtful risk-based management approach and an eye on the ultimate purity—physically and spiritually—of the individual and the community.

(Free Photo via Pixabay)

Corona Matzah Man

So this is what happens when Coronavirus pandemic coincides with Passover. 


We get a Corona Matzah Man wearing his face mask so he doesn’t get sick, G-d forbid. 


Even as we get ready to celebrate the seder tonight and recall G-d’s mercifully delivering us from Egyptian servitude, we also can be certain that He will deliver us from this dreaded Coronavirus. 


G-d is all powerful and has a purpose for everything. 


Perhaps, we just needed a reminder of who was in charge not only on Passover, but all the year round. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Pathogen Deaths – Worst Is Yet To Come

So maybe I am the only one who doesn’t see how things are adding up.


But in the U.S. we have 4,000 dead from Coronavirus and 3/4 of the country (all the major population centers) are on lockdown. 


Yet, the projections are still for deaths in the U.S. to pile up between 100,000 to 240,000


How do you get from 4,000 to 240,000 with most people under lockdown?


The numbers of projected deaths were in the millions before the lockdown and social distancing, so yes the numbers are lower and better now. 


Still the escalating death toll is frightening in its magnitude of what is yet to come DESPITE the lockdown.


Moreover, the estimated death in the U.S. from the Flu was only 34,000 (2018-2019) and that’s with everybody round and about doing their business.


My question is what happens after the (first) peak when they send people back to work and school?


There are still going to be people sick and contagious out there and the whole cycle STARTS AGAIN until we get the vaccine. 


And even after the vaccine, it may become seasonal like the flu or mutate and become even more virulent. 


It seems like there is plenty of reason to be cautious and concerned about what is yet to happen from here.


Then again we may be considered fortunate this time and actually beat this Coronavirus, but then again what happens when the NEXT really bad natural or man-made pathogen gets out? 😉


Note: There are approximately 16 countries with deadly biological weapons programs. 


(Credit Photo: My wonderful so-in-law, Itzchak)

Harris Teeter War Zone

Who would’ve thought that going to Harris Teeter would be a war zone. 


But this guy in the respirator mask is showing us how bad things can start to get. 


As an avid fan of the show The Walking Dead, I think we are entering TWD territory with the people walking around with their face’s half covered and some looking sick with fear and worry or perhaps even with symptoms–who knows!


What is amazing is how things can go from boom to bust, and not just for our economy, but for life and civilization itself at the turn of a dime. 


Yesterday, I read how the CFO of Jefferies Group Investment Bank (NYC) died at age 56 from Coronavirus. 


Even as the Navy’s hospital ships Mercy and Comfort enter the ports of Los Angeles and New York City to lend a hand and about 1,000 hospital beds each, it seems like more and more of these deadly cases are hitting the papers and social media every day.


Where does this sickness stop?   


What happens if the virus mutates again and become even more virulent?


How do we ever feel even remotely secure again?


Can we keep taxing our already overwhelmed healthcare system with more and more sick patients?


How long can we keep printing Monopoly bailout money (incredibly, there is talk of yet another multi-trillion Coronavirus stimulus bill even after we just passed this $2.2 trillion one last week)?


Eventually, as we all know circumstances can indeed overwhelm the health and financial systems, and even our governments…thank G-d we aren’t there. 


But what we are all beginning to see in the midst of crisis is that “there” isn’t really all that far away from “here.”


…That life hangs by a truly thin thread. 


And because we can only do so much, this is where we really need to look up to the heavens and ask for G-d’s help and mercy.  😉


(Credit Photo: my wonderful son-in-law, Itzchak)

Growing Fears Of Coronavirus

As the coronavirus continues to infect more and more people, the fear is continuing to grow.


Today, Apple announced that the outbreak will imagine their sales


And I read yesterday that airlines, even Israeli El Al, is warning of the impact


But how you know that the people, as individuals, are getting seriously worried are by the level of precautions they are starting to take.


These include: canceling travel arrangements, wearing (antiviral) face masks and latex gloves, and ever more frequent hand-washing and use of hand sanitizers. 


The picture here shows a couple of ladies waiting on line for some gelato at the airport, and they have masks over their faces and this is in the Holy Land, and not even where the outbreak is in China!


I hear official figures of 70,000+ infected and 1,800 dead, but on the street people are saying these are grossly understated. 


Let us pray that this virus is brought speedily under control, that a cure is found, and that no more people are sickened or killed by it. 


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Searching For Gold

This guy had some getup on in Fort Lauderdale on the toasty beach. 

He’s in the ocean dressed in a full wetsuit with a mask over his face, a hat on his head, and the headphones over his ears. 

He had a metal detector and wand looking for lost gold in the water right off the beach. 

But didn’t see him find a dime the whole time we were there. 

I can’t believe these guys can actually find enough jewelry on the beach to make this worth while. 

Back and forth with the wand…searching, searching.  😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Facing Facts on Rosh Hashanah

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Facing Facts on Rosh Hashanah.”

In a sense, we all live at least two lives–represented by the two faces we wear: The first is the happy face, where we portray ourselves as if everything is going so well, almost near-perfect in our lives (our vacations, accomplishments, celebrations, and so on), and this is the face that we routinely show to the world. Then, there is the second face, which is essentially where everything is not (always) quite so rosy, where life’s challenges, troubles, and hardships take their tangible toll, and this is the face that we learn to keep private and regularly hide from the world. Usually, it comes down to a rationale that goes something like this: just imagine what would people think of us if they really knew us for who we are and what we were actually going through? Yet the funny thing is that everyone is going through something–that’s life!

In a couple of weeks, when we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, we come knowing that there is no mask to be worn in front of our Maker, and truly, we are naked before Him in all our thoughts and deeds. We can’t pretend anymore that our lives or ourselves are perfect, but rather this is the time for true and earnest reflection, repentance, as well as judgment for the New Year based on what each of us is really all about. May each of us have the courage and conviction to face our real selves, to learn, grow, improve, and ultimately to self-actualize, and may we receive G-d’s mercy and blessings for a happy and healthy New Year!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)