April, 2022

Dear Diary,

Nechemia here again. I know I haven’t written in a bit. Things have been busy, but that is no excuse. Since the coronavirus ended nearly two years ago, my fellow earthmates and I made a pact to hold on to the positive changes that resulted from those very difficult and painful times.

The world has been a better, healthier, kinder and cleaner place. People have been happier and more good-natured.

In fact, just today there were many examples of life A.C. (After Corona). Here are just a few.

I woke up to see my daughters calmly playing a board game, letting the older people sleep and not asking for devices. I guess it’s true what the experts said; those couple months of quarantine really taught us how detrimental all that screen time is. It’s almost as if the children associate iPads and computers with anxiety (their own or their parents’) and school, and they’d rather not use these devices first thing upon awakening. Or any time of day, if they don’t have to.

Later, I was driving on the Leveritt Circle, and remember the old days when people would cut one another off trying to get to work in a hurry? Remember how you had to speed up and slow down in order to squeeze your car into that space barely large enough for a matchbox car?

Well, that doesn’t really happen anymore. Traffic is significantly lighter now that so many people work from home, and bosses are much more relaxed and understanding, focusing on simply making enough money to feed families. We don’t have the greed of B.C. (Before Corona).

Still, today someone tried to cut off the whole line.

Initially, my blood pressure started shooting upwards and the foul words I wanted to say entered my mind, but then I remembered our pact. To love, to judge favorably, to give people the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, just a few minutes later, I caught up to that car as it was exiting Storrow Drive toward Mass General. If I saw correctly, it appeared there was a passenger in the car that was ready to give birth to a new child.

Anyway, I got to my coffee meeting in Boston. It was easy to find parking, and the city’s new rules about a 15-minute grace period on the parking meters saved me from a parking ticket. What was once a stressful experience was now calm and relaxed.

After a successful meeting, I headed back home. Instead of going straight to work, I stopped to have lunch with my wife, since A.C. we know how precious time with our loved ones is. There really isn’t anything I “have” to do that is more important than those few minutes of quiet time, talking and connecting—another positive result of the healthier new world. When I speak to my friends, I hear that this scene is playing itself out in homes across the world. People stopping to smell the roses. Slowing down to allow the important things in life in, and savoring them as we never did in the past.

Back in the office, I prepared for my Torah class, as my class has increased in attendance, between the physical attendees and digital attendees. It appears that since corona, people have realized that an evening out is better spent learning Torah. They’ve realized that stimulating the mind and learning how better to connect with G‑d is actually more enjoyable than a movie and a steak. (It may also be connected to the fact that we now offer wine and cocktails in addition to the usual coffee, tea and cake that were available B.C.)

Shabbat shul attendance has also increased dramatically. It’s incredible—people really have connected to G‑d in the last two years. Not that they were frightened into a relationship; rather, a couple of months of having the mask of “certainty” removed and having to accept in a real and deep way that we don’t run the world really propels us towards the Al-mighty. Attendance is up Friday night and Shabbat day, and even the Shabbat morning Torah discussion draws a large crowd. These days, I devote extra time to preparing for my sermon and classes so I can properly teach and help others.

I think the biggest After Corona change, however, is in myself. There’s less hurriedness and harriedness. Less fretting over the small things. Less worrying about the things I cannot change. More focus on my family. More focus on my children. More patience with them and all people. More keeping my eye on the real prize—the prize of happiness, tranquility, family, meaning and true G‑dly existence.

I don’t like the coronavirus. I don’t like the tragedy, chaos and tears it brought to this world. Many dear, dear people were taken too soon. It was a deeply painful period in our recent history.

But it has changed us as a society, as a people, as individuals. I am a better person, a better father, a better husband. I hope that the memory of what we’ve been through will continue to propel us forward.

We are often taught about the “better time” to come with the arrival of Moshiach, When we will beat our swords into plowshares. A concept that B.C. was really hard to fathom. Now, however, we’ve seen car companies and other firms joining to make ventilators and things like that, and suddenly a utopian world of Moshiach doesn’t seem so far fetched.

So, dear diary, hopefully not as much time will pass until I write again. I just wanted to share that two years ago, when all these intense changes were happening, no one could have imagined that we would be experiencing good times again—in fact, better times. Sometimes you need to spring to the future a bit, so you can have perspective on the past.

I think to myself, what a wonderful world . . .