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Holy Cross Professor on How the Hebrew Bible Speaks to Us in the Time of COVID-19

Commonweal Magazine
April 22nd, 2020 by 

Mahri Leonard-Fleckman, assistant professor of religious studies. Photo by John Buckingham
Mahri Leonard-Fleckman, assistant professor of religious studies. Photo by John Buckingham

In a recent commentary for Commonweal Magazine, Mahri Leonard-Fleckman, assistant professor of religious studies at Holy Cross, points to the Hebrew Bible as an important source of wisdom, having made the connection between war and pandemic in Psalm 91—known as the “Song of Plagues” (shir shel pegaim) in Jewish tradition.

“Psalm 91 has been, and continues to be, a powerful prayer of hope for communities in upheaval,” says Leonard-Fleckman. “It shows the path from confusion to freedom. Let’s make it our own.”

According to Leonard-Fleckman—whose areas of expertise include literary history and the development of the Hebrew Bible, the social and political development of the ancient Near East and interdisciplinary approaches to biblical interpretation—the Hebrew Bible encourages us to “focus on one’s inner orientation” when living through challenging times, and not on the hardships themselves.

“We face a choice: we can expand our connection to God and others, or we can contract into fear and self-absorption,” says Leonard-Fleckman. “Social distancing doesn’t mean turning our backs on our neighbors. It means making sacrifices so they might live.”

To read the full article, go to CommonwealMagazine.org.

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