Apparently a plane load of (naturally) male orthodox (of the extreme) variety, with good heart, went up in a plane to fly over Israel and through prayers and chanting and blowing of shofars (rams’ horns) drive away swine flu for the good of the world. (Video here so you can see for yourself).
However I am here to tell you they are pikers. Men! Feh! What do they know? Any zogern (female prayer leader of the Jewish shtetl) wouldn’t bother with planes and such nonsense.
The proper way to end a plague is to marry off a couple, who otherwise couldn’t afford it, at midnight in the cemetery under the moon. That is the way to do it. Israelis! Moderns! Men! Ridiculous!
Why did the Holy One above send us a plague? they asked. What did we do? If we set it right, then maybe the Holy One will forgive us and our children will get better. Didn’t you hear? It’s a punishment for the way the Hasidim treated the Rabbi in Plotsk. He doesn’t like Hasidim, so they drove him out of town and then the cholera came. Now they’re begging him to come back. But what about us? We only have one Hasid, Asher the watercarrier, and they buried him this morning. I’ll tell you whose fault it is. Yekhiel the baker. Everyone knows he’s an unbeliever. It’s his sin. No, no, it’s Blema the midwife. Don’t you remember her grandmother was burned for a witch? “Friends, friends, listen to me,” the Old Rabbi said, rapping the floor with his oak staff. Someone had thrown a rock through the baker’s window. It had to be stopped. “The sin is all of ours and we can rectify it, together. It is written that arranging the marriage of orphans and conducting the ceremony in the cemetery at midnight will stop a plague, even the cholera. This should tell you what a great mitzvah it is. Right here among us we have a boy of marriageable age without father or mother to arrange his destiny. No family, no money — who would marry him? But we’ll find a bride for Hayim, everyone will witness his happiness, and the Holy One in His infinite mercy will withdraw the punishment that we brought upon ourselves, even if we don’t know how. As for the Hasidim, it’s too bad they’re misguided, but each of them is a mother’s child, just like each of you. They even have a few scholars among them. As it is written, There is no limit to the practice of benevolence and the study of Torah.”
In the women’s gallery there was much excitement when a match was found for Hayim. God has compassion, we are saved, they said. She’s a pearl. How lucky our Hayim is. She’s not so good-looking, but you can only see the scar on one side. And if she’s not so young, well he needs to learn a thing or two. And if they found her in the brothel near the docks in Plotsk, what then? Did anybody see her do anything wrong? It’s God’s will that the match will rescue her from a life of sin. And who is Hayim, anyway, a Talmud genius? He should just be thankful that he has a warm place to put his body on a Friday night.
That’s how to do it (From The River Midnight).