Thoughts on Education Day Day USA, April 20’20

April 5, 20’20: The 42nd Annual “Education Day and Sharing Day USA”

“The living should take it to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2)

For those who are not aware of “Education and Sharing Day USA,” in every year since 1978, it has been proclaimed by the current U.S. President on the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s birthday in the Hebrew calendar (11th of Nissan, four days before Passover, which can occur between March 21 and April 21). The proclamation calls for increasing attention and emphasis on education, and links this to the inspiration that can be drawn from the Rebbe’s tireless efforts to establish more education of children world-wide. At the same time, the Rebbe publicized that education must include character-building, and awareness of G-d and the universal Divine Laws that supersede and are the foundation for all righteous laws in all societies.

This occasion should inspire everyone to set aside a moment for taking stock of our current situation and the world that we are faced with today. May G-d heal all those that are sick and keep everyone safe from the COVID-19 virus that is ravaging nations and their economies. We are at a pivotal crossroads, to either continue doing what we have always been doing as a society or to change for the better. Looking back to a book I read about the outlook of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Positivity Bias, let’s look at the positives in our current situation. As we are being urged or required to stay in our homes, what are we doing with that time? Many people are spending more time with immediate family, tending away from materialism, and taking more care for their physical well-being and that of others. There are more people who are now doing more praying, learning, and reaching out to others through technology with kindness and goodness by expressing concern and sharing messages that will lift up their spirits.

I know firsthand that many Noahides are used to traveling a solitary road in terms of their observance if they are not connected with other Noahides locally, or with a welcoming observant Jewish community or Chabad Center. While the Jews are now being held back from going to their synagogues, Noahides are still praying, studying Torah as it pertains to them, observing their Seven Commandments, giving charity, helping people and honoring their parents (while observing social distancing or lock-downs), and the list goes on. Now is also a most fitting time to be proactive in the trail that was blazed by the Rebbe, to inspire national leaders, teachers, and all people in regard to the Seven Noahide Laws and their details.

In the spirit of “Education and Sharing Day”, we must educate ourselves about how and where the deadly new coronavirus originated, and how to stop pandemics of this nature from ever occurring again. Whether or not it started with the common practice in China of careless handling and eating of wild animals is a matter of debate, and the facts will surely come to light in spite of any attempted cover-ups. But in any event, this happened in the context of China’s governmental doctrine of atheism and widespread disregard for the Biblical prohibition of tzaar baalei chayim – the term in Hebrew for the sin of inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering on living creatures (an offshoot of the universal commandment not to eat meat that was taken from a living animal). We should call China to task for allowing this to happen and for tolerating unhealthy practices that could lead to unprecedented pandemics.

Noahides are permitted to eat any species of animals, but this is limited by the precept to guard one’s health (an offshoot of the prohibition of murder). For example, Noahides are allowed to eat shellfish, but if a particular body of water is polluted with toxins or radiation, warnings may need to be issued not to eat anything from that area that has absorbed enough of those pollutants to be injurious to one’s health. This is also obviously logical and a matter of common sense! How much more so should stringent sanitary procedures be followed by people who are touching the carcasses of animal species that are, or might be, carriers of viruses or bacteria to which humans are susceptible! Even in the extreme case that someone is starving, destitute, and has nothing else available to eat, it is reprehensible to put one’s own life and the life of others at risk by not following basic sanitary procedures, and not making sure that the meat is handled safely and only eaten after it is fully cooked.

The world been given a strong wake-up call to evaluate what people everywhere are eating, and to dispel the widespread wrong assumption that the practice of eating meat taken from living animals stopped hundreds or thousands of years ago as societies supposedly became more “civilized”. In the present situation, the world has become more receptive to the timeless relevance of ALL seven of the Noahide Commandments and their details and offshoots. We should utilize this opportunity by increasing our teaching of the Noahide Code to friends, family, co-workers, students of all ages, and the world at large.

By Chris ben Noach, with participation from Dr. Michael Schulman, Director of Asknoah.org

Share