Rav Sternbuch spent Rosh Hashono at his yeshiva in Ramat Beit Shemesh. He spoke on three occasions. He said that the past year had not been an easy one, and the events that happened should certainly be considered as a kind of “warning” from Hashem to wake up and return to Him. It is a general principle that punishments are not meted out without warnings, and Hashem is telling us as it were “return from your evil ways”.
Hashem’s ways are not known to us, and we have never been sure what will happen to us, and now also we do not know what is going to happen even in the immediate future. However, anyone who considers what is going on around us realizes that Hashem is “knocking” and wants us to be afraid of Him and return to Him with repentance. That is why He is demonstrating His power to us.
If we do not wake up chas vesholom we may have to undergo more severe misfortunes, as it says “And if you will walk contrary to me [treating events as if they were happenstance], and will not listen to me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins”. May Hashem save us from all misfortune.
It is obvious that this disease is a way for Hashem to show his dominion to all the world’s inhabitants, to demonstrate that man is not in charge of creation, and that everything depends on Him. This is in fact the main purpose of this plague, to increase our faith that Hashem is the Creator and Ruler of the world.
It could be that one of the symptoms is the loss of smell and taste to teach us not to be immersed in the pleasures of this world. Hashem is telling us that that even if you want to partake of worldly pleasures, I can take the senses of taste and smell away from you.
We are clearly obligated during these days to increase our prayers and beseech Hashem to remove this plague from us, which is causing difficulties and immense material and spiritual damage.
When praying we should increase our faith in Hashem, that there is no coincidence in the world, that everything stems from Him, that only He causes this disease, and that a cure also will only come from Him, and is not dependent on the wisdom of researchers into vaccines, as argued by heretics. With the help of Hashem, by virtue of the power of our faith and prayer, we will be saved.
The Rashash suggested in a drosho that if we make a firm resolution to completely repent with regard to one feasible item that needs rectifying, which will not be too difficult for us to keep, then we will be deemed to have been chozer bitshuvah. This can be a route for Hashem to forgive all our sins.
Not only a complete baal teshuvah but even such a chozer bitshuvah who has not yet formally repented all of his sins but has started to change his path is considered to be a different person who has the power to overturn evil decrees.