In my opinion, the following passage is one of the most beautiful in the Torah and it’s strongly connected to our present situation in our battle with the coronavirus: “But not only with you am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those standing here with us today before the Lord, our God, and with those who are not here with us today.”
Moshe Rabbeinu gathers the entire people together and reminds them that their common story belongs not only to them but to those who came before and to those who will come after them. Our unity and our destiny are inextricably linked with those no longer with us and those who will follow us. We do not live only for ourselves.
In an international forum regarding the partition of the Land of Israel, Yitzhak Tabenkin remarked to Ben-Gurion that he needed to take counsel. The next day Tabenkin returned to Ben-Gurion and told him not to agree to the partition plan offered at the forum. Ben-Gurion asked him with whom he had taken counsel and Tabenkin replied:
“I took counsel with my grandfather who has already passed away and with my grandchild who has not yet been born.” In other words: I took counsel with the past and future generations since I feel a sense of responsibility towards them even if they are not here physically.
We cannot allow ourselves to act solely from narrow self-interest and egoistic motives, to see only the here and now, what’s instant and convenient. In order to succeed, even during the present crisis, we must remember that we are part of a story that is much greater than ourselves.