We shouldn’t be panicked by this virus event, and I love the line Rabbi Schonfeld said during the drashah, that Hashem can so easily make a mockery of our “great economy” by having someone in China eat bat soup and thus wrecking our economy – but we shouldn’t ignore this virus either.
We have already had eight cases with unknown origin of coronavirus. Up until February 29, the only country that the Trump administration was barring entry from was China. Now Northern Italy, South Korea, and Iran were added to the list. Before these additions, Italians and others not from China were not even screened when they came into this country, so we don’t know what the effect of those who entered before the latest ban has on our population.
I cite here from this current article an infectious disease expert advising people to act differently during this virus attack. He says, “We may also have to think about reducing occasions when people are crowded together; that may mean more people working from home to avoid offices, buses, and subways. It may mean avoiding sports events, school assemblies, parties, and even unnecessary visits to crowded doctor’s offices – this is a time to develop telemedicine.
This Shabbos in shul, I didn’t feel comfortable shaking people’s hands and gave a fist bump instead. I know that the “Good Shabbos” handshake is legendary, but during these times I think it could be acceptable to go with alternate ways of saying Good Shabbos. One person was almost offended when I gave him my reason for the fist bump.
I think it would be good if Rabbi Schonfeld and other rabbis explained that fist bumps should be understood these days as an alternative for the handshake, if that’s what people want to do.