In Hebrew, Batya means “daughter of God.” But writer Batya Levy decided to be something more than the daughter; briefly, she became the heavenly Father himself! That is, she just published “An Open Letter from God during Coronavirus,” a long, sophomoric epistle intended to convey the Almighty’s loving thoughts on the COVID crisis.
My Dear Child, I just wanted to check in and say hi. As this quarantine continues on, with tensions rising and uncertainty mounting, I just wanted to remind you that I’m here for you and that I love you.
Fine, I’ll play along.
Hi God. Nice of you to check in. You don’t do that too often. By the way, do you know that continue on is redundant? Of course you do, you’re omniscient. So, proper grammar! You got this!
My dear child, I wanted to remind you that you’re doing a really great job and that I’m noticing and loving you so much for your efforts….I see you and the growth you’re making and the strides you’re taking to deal with your situation. I see you and I love you so much for the huge effort you’re making to stay positive in these challenging times.
Challenging times that you created, Yahweh. Which you do often for my people. For all people. Floods, earthquakes, genocide, the works. So much tsuris. Hey, remember that little thing called the Holocaust? All that love you gave us then? Wowed we were!
My dear child–
I have kids, I own a house, I pay taxes, I’m older than the number of years the Jews supposedly wandered through the desert. Maybe don’t infantilize me the whole time.
I know how hard this is for you right now. I know you’re feeling sad. I know you’re feeling overwhelmed. I know you’re worried and stressed and anxious. But please, my dear child, express it to Me. Talk to Me, let Me in. Tell Me how you’re feeling. Tell Me what’s on your mind.
You’re confusing me, Supreme One. The rabbis have always told me that you’re already “in”; that since the moment you created me, you’ve been privy to all my thoughts. Same for everyone else. Practically in the same breath, you go from “I know you’re feeling stressed and sad,” to “tell me how you’re feeling.” So forgive me, but it seems illogical, pointless, and a waste of time for you to ask me to share what I’m thinking.
I want to help you. Tell Me how hard you’re finding this situation. Tell Me that you hate this. Tell Me that you hate being alone. Or that you hate being with your family. Or that you hate that you can’t go out. Shout at Me. I don’t care. I just want to hear from you.
Were you even listening to what I said not 10 seconds ago?
Don’t cut Me out now that there’s no structure in your life. I know I’ve shut all the shuls, I know I’ve made it way more challenging for you to connect. But please, I beg of you, don’t think I’m not here. I’m closer than ever and I still want to hear from you, now more than ever.
Oy gevalt. Let’s change the subject. We went over this. We addressed and discussed this already. We conversed, communicated, and confabulated about this. Also, we conferred and conveyed.
Repetition quickly gets annoying, doesn’t it?
My dear child, you’re so confused, and that’s OK. … Just know this — I only give you a challenge that you can overcome.
Oooh, I recognize that promise! That’s exactly what you told my grandparents! Do you remember them? My maternal grandfather and grandmother, Samuel and Sarah, loved you, but they went up the chimney in Auschwitz all the same. My grandpa Moishe died of dysentery in Buchenwald. His wife, Esther, was sent to the Buchenwald brothel and raped multiple times a day until she couldn’t take it anymore and slit her wrists. And surely you recall my great-great-uncle Reuben. He wrote you a message two days before he died. Carved it into his bunk at Mauthausen, actually. It said, “If God exists, he’s going to have to beg my forgiveness.”
I’m sorry Yahweh, I know that turned grim. I didn’t want to bring it up, but you started it.
I know how unsettling it feels, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. Not knowing how many more people will die. Or get infected. Not knowing who you will be saying goodbye to next. But together we can pull through and succeed.
Do you critically re-read and edit your prose, O Mighty Oz? I ask because you just went from “how many more people will die” to “we can pull through and succeed.” You see the contradiction there, don’t you? In their hour of need and in all the days that preceded it, you filled the heads of the pious with false hope. You told the dying, like you just told me, that they’d pull through if they put their trust in you. And they did, and then you killed them. Or you let them die. Which, if you’re God, is really the same thing. A lot of them suffered horribly. Cancer, cholera, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, COVID — and that’s just the C’s.
So I’ve been thinking about something a Greek philosopher once said. He noted that If God is willing to prevent evil but not able, he isn’t almighty. If God is able to prevent evil but not willing, he’s a malevolent jerk. If he’s both willing and able, why does evil exist? And if he isn’t willing and he isn’t able, then why call that pitiable thing God? Been mulling that over a lot.
My dear child, I know you’re scared but feel My warmth. Feel My arms around your shoulders comforting you. Feel My presence holding you. Feel Me carrying you through this. Feel Me here, like I’ve been here with you your whole life. You’re overwhelmed right now. And that’s OK. Life is overwhelming right now. But remember that I’m quarantined with you.
Two things. Number one, only in the most meaningless and disingenuous sense of the word are you “quarantined with me.” I mean, right now, you’re also in every 10-million-dollar mansion on the planet, and aboard every 50-million-dollar super-yacht, hanging out with the rich and fabulous. You’re with people pleasure-driving on country roads and with people standing on mountaintops soaking up the rays. And if you get tired of that, you just retreat to heaven — it’s pretty nice up there, I hear. So while my family and I are cooped up in our two-bedroom apartment, you can go anywhere in the whole universe. Pardon me for not finding your attempt at commiseration entirely convincing.
And number two, this is a situation of your making. You take credit for everything in nature, right Yahweh? So you created the COVID-19 virus along with nightingales, sunflowers, and purring kittens. That also means that with a single flick of your purportedly all-powerful pinkie, you could make any dangerous germ heel like a docile cockapoo. You could pull an Old Yeller on it right now. What’s stopping you? To what end, and with what justification, did you just kill a quarter million people with COVID? Why would you believe that you now deserve our trust, our gratitude, and our reverence?
My dear child, I am so proud of you right now. For what you’re achieving. For what you’re learning through this process. I am so proud of your progress. I see every tiny step forward you make. And though you may think it’s tiny, in My eyes it’s a massive deal. I’m rooting for you. I know you can do this. I know you can make this quarantine amazing.
That’s what my people call chutzpah. Are you seriously creating an earthly obstacle course just to see if and how we’ll overcome it? I wouldn’t find that so callous if the penalty for failing the test wasn’t death.
But actually, I take that back. It’s not quite correct. You don’t even reward the ones who pass the test. We see all the time that your biggest fans, the ones who praise you like squeeing fangirls at a One Direction concert, die from COVID in numbers that are indistinguishable from the mortality stats for Hindus and Buddhists and atheists. In other words, believing in you, the God of Abraham, confers no benefit when it comes to avoiding suffering and death. Why is that?
I’m right here, listening. And I’m not going anywhere. Ever. You can rely on that.
Creepy. How do I get you to stop stalking me? Can I get some kind of celestial restraining order?
You’re doing such a fantastic job. You’re amazing. And when all this is over, I hope you can come out with your head held high, feeling proud of what you achieved. And I really hope we can maintain the strong bond we’ve formed during these challenging times.
“Strong bond.” You are the worst listener ever. I’m breaking up with you, Poobah. It’s not me, it’s you. Peace out and toodles!
(Image via Shutterstock)