In Meseches Shabbos 128 the gemarah describes why certain legumes are muktzah on Shabbos since they are used for firewood. However if one takes them in his house with the intention to use for animal food he may partake from them on Shabbos. One of them is called קורנית Coronis. Another name for this legume is חשי. By now, the mere mention of a plant named Coronis raises eyebrows and rings an alarming bell of fear and utter frustration in every head and heart. Who can say that he or she is not affected by this virus? The relevance of this in the Daf Yomi, to our present situation of the Corona Virus is that Hashem is hinting to His children an underlying message of great significance which we therefore ought to explore.
The present pandemic is named Covid 19 which many have interpreted to allude to the 19 berachos of Shemoneh Esrai. Could it be that we are not giving sufficient kovid to our davening? Everyone today has so much pressure and overwhelming demands in life that our tefillos suffer from it. This is hinted in the letters חשי which spells חיש which means to hurry and it also spells שיח which means to daven אין שיחה אלא תפלה. This tells us that one of the challenges of tefillah is to fight against the חיש the natural urge to mumble-jumble the words without intent and kavanah. The pervading climate of the culture in which we live has trained us to think that we control all the aspects of our lives. Tefillah is a daily reminder that we are actually pleading before Hashem to help sustain us and our families with health, parnassah, successful chinuch, and the geulah for He alone is the sole provider of all these needs plus millions more.
If tefillah was taken more seriously by which we would really feel our total dependence on Hashem, maybe it would have been unnecessary to bring upon us the Covid 19. Hashem has put us in a very tight squeeze to force us to decide whether to think or sink ch”v. He took away our davening with the minyan so we can wake up and realize that we miss it and thereby gain a new appreciation of its meaning and purpose. I have spoken to many people who say “Since the virus I have discovered a new connection to tefillah. I take my time, there is no rush, and suddenly I started to see and come in contact with words that I didn’t recognize at all before the present crisis.”
Once a man was asked: what did you gain from davening to Hashem regularly? The man replied, Nothing… but let me tell you what I lost: Anger, Ego, Greed, Depression, Insecurity, Jealousy, and Fear of Death. Sometimes the answer to our tefillos is not gaining but losing: which ultimately is the gain. The gematria of אבדה (loss) including the word is 13. This number corresponds to the 13 requests that we daven for in the middle of the Shemoneh Esrai. Even if we are not answered, the tefilla has achieved its goal because you became more spiritual and dedicated to Hashem’s service. You also gained the major realization that without depending on Hashem, you are totally lost!
The plant Koranis has two functions. One is that it serves as fuel for fire and secondly, it is utilized for animal feed. One aspect is positive and the other is negative. Fuel for fire represents the heat of the yetzer harah and the pleasure instincts that the body craves to fulfill. Animal feed represents a second aspect of this plant and that is when the animal eats he comes to the recognition of his master who supplies him with sustenance. As the Navi Yeshaya chastises Am Yisrael (1,3) in the Haftorah read before Tisha B’av, ידע שור קונהו וחמור אבוס בעליו וישראל לא ידע ועמי לא התבונן Even an ox knows its owner and the donkey recognizes the trough of its master, yet My nation Yisrael does not know and does not investigate from where they derive their sustenance. Hashem wants us to be at minimum like the ox and donkey which recognize their masters. Our forgetfulness of this principle has brought upon us the misfortune of Coronis which hopefully made us realize that we are totally helpless on our own. Its purpose is for us to understand that we are more connected to the physical world to fuel our fire of lusts rather than to learn from it the recognition of Hashem’s benevolence to us. This is hinted in the acronym of ידע שור חמור which spell חשי another name for the קרנית plant.
The background in which this plant is discussed concerns the laws of Shabbos: whether this plant possesses the status of muktzah. Interestingly, the plant קרנית is gematriah ביום שבת. This therefore also sends us a message about Shabbos. The Shabbos is a day of Neshama as the Zohar writes not a day whose focus is on physical pursuits of the week. The Torah prohibits lighting a fire on Shabbos לא תבערו אש בכל מושבותיכם ביום השבת. It is not a day to fuel the fire of the body but rather to bring out the fire of the neshama. Shabbos is gifted to Am Yisrael as a window of opportunity to increase our intimacy with Hashem. If we allow the fire fuel aspect to reign during our Shabbos, then we will have the attitude of חיש can’t wait till it’s over. However, if we understand the purpose of Shabbos which is to help us reframe our perspective of life which is prone to become distorted during the workweek, then we will focus on the stark recognition of the שור and חמור which know very well from whom their sustenance comes from.
This entire concept is hinted in the gematriah of שור חמור which equals ביום שבת. I surmise that if our Shabboses were also observed in the fashion that is expected from us there would also be no necessity to send us קרנית which is the same gematriah.
The passuk says בעתה אחישנה (Yeshaya 60,22). This statement appears as a paradox. On one hand בעתה means on time and schedule yet אחישנה conveys quickly which means earlier in time. Our Chazal (Rashi ibid) interpret this passage to teach us that there are two times designated for the final geulah. One is בעתה a predestined time in which Moshiach must come. Then there also exists the possibility of Moshiach’s arrival to be earlier than the designated time if we merit his coming.
In the word משיח we find our hope and tefilla that his arrival should be earlier than scheduled and that we Klal Yisrael should merit to this through our teshuvah and virtuousness. This is hinted in the last three letters of משיח which isחיש , which translates as quickly as found in the word אחישנה. That Moshiach should come מ- from חיש with an early arrival. מ-שיח from our שיח proper tefillos.
Hashem as well desires to bring the geulah with the earlier time of חיש. It is within our hands to make it happen. If we improve our tefillah and our Shabbos then this will improve our chances to bring the redemption now. Instead of focusing on the ever-increasing frustrating hurdles and challenges with serious and dangerous inconveniences and consequences, let us focus on our Master of the universe, who brought this world wide paralysis upon us, and ask Him what He wants from us and then start fulfilling His wishes in a hurry.