Unsurprisingly, Merriam-Webster has chosen “pandemic” as their word of the year. It has been the most researched, analyzed and studied word in all of 2020—a year that has certainly left its mark on the world.
But may I humbly suggest that perhaps the word “humility” better represents the year we’ve just endured?
If there’s one thing 2020 has hammered into our consciousness, it’s humility.
This time last year, we had grand plans for 2020. Certainly none of us could have predicted what happened next! In fact, as we ushered in the New Year, the pandemic had already begun in China.
As it spread, the world was shaken to its core. We were entirely unprepared; we had no tools to handle the situation foisted upon us. Without doubt, the events of 2020 will feature heavily in history books.
We thought we had the mightiest weapons in our arsenal, including F16s and hydrogen bombs, and then we discovered just how powerless we are against a tiny, invisible virus. Humbling.
Even as it spread, we thought by summer life would be back to normal. We could send our children to camp and go on our planned vacations. But we discovered that we are not in control. Humbling.
We thought our jobs and income were secure and that we could easily afford our mortgages and rent, only to be shown that our income comes directly from G-d. Humbling.
We put so much thought and planning into choosing the best schools for our children, only to have them home for months on end. Humbling.
This was the year we realized we don’t need theaters, Broadway shows, bars or clubs to entertain ourselves. We can be happy at home with our families.
This was the year we realized that as much as we value our savings and our assets, at the end of the day health is paramount.
This was the year we realized we don’t have the answers to life, and that’s ok. G-d does and we surrender ourselves to Him. And, more than ever, we turned to G-d, to prayer, and to Torah study.
So which word best defines 2020? Humility.
G-d, we are in Your hands. Please be gentle with us as we enter 2021.
Mendel (Menachem) Bluming and Rabbi U”V