“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalms 30:6),” is one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible.
Robert Alter’s translation, “ At evening one beds down weeping, and in the morning glad song,” (The Book of Psalms, A Translation with Commentary, W.W. Norton and Co., 2007, loc. 2387, Kindle edition) may be more accurate linguistically, but it lacks the majesty of the more familiar King James translation of the verse.
As we move from day to day through the Corona plague, I find no more fitting mantra of aspiration than these immortal words.
Our lives have changed radically. Isolation is the new normal. The country faces a horrific choice. We must weigh the risk of an even greater death toll against the impact of an economic recession that deepens daily. Protesters have taken to the streets as arguments rage about our preparedness as a nation for the reality through which we are now living.
The late Rabbi Leon Klenicki, former Director of Inter-Religious Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League, defined the word “crisis” as, “turning point.”
Without question, however long it endures Covid-19 will mark a turning point in our lives. We not only wonder when the economy will recover but if. Some industries face the possibilities that they never will.
The cost in human suffering is incalculable, and the economic hardship many face is beyond measure. People who never dreamed they would depend on charity now wait in line for hours just to receive the food they will need to feed their families for the next week.
Through it all, the Psalmist promises: things will get better. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy will come in the morning.”
One way or another we will get through this.
We as a nation, and we as a worldwide humanity created in God’s image, will survive this pandemic. Hopefully we will learn from it to be more diligent in our stewardship of the planet entrusted to our care. Hopefully we will put greater store in the relationships we used to take for granted. Hopefully we will hold more precious every breath of life that we have the privilege to take.
Today is Yom Ha-Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. We have learned that those who survived the camps shared a common characteristic: they clung to the hope that they would make it.
There is a lesson there for us. Though the toll of lives lost and economic devastation is staggering, we must not despair. Our night of weeping will end, and joy will come in the morning.