Dealing with the coronavirus is a medical and emotional challenge, yet it can also take us on a spiritual journey. This virus is a powerful reminder of our common humanity. It does not discriminate by race, religion or nationality. It infects the rich just as readily as it does the poor. It renders important officials just as vulnerable as ordinary citizens. In its path we are all equal, which means we all must face this crisis together. At a time of heightened polarization around the world, this pandemic is reminding us of our shared humanity. Its relentless spread should reinforce our faith in the common dignity of all human beings. The shared humanity of every human being is a sacred Jewish principle that has its origins in the creation of the universe. According to the sages of the Talmud, God made the world in a way that emphasized the equality of every human being. He brought into being all of the animals and plants en masse, yet He made all of humanity from one man and one woman, Adam and Eve. He did so, our sages say, to ensure that every human would descend from the same biological parents. That means that no one can rightfully claim to be racially superior. We are, all of us, brothers and sisters, called by God to treat each other with respect and compassion. By originating all of humanity from only two people, God also conveys, say our sages, the sanctity of every human life. Just as saving Adam or Eve at the dawn of Creation would have meant saving the entire world, so too should we recognize that each life has the value of the world.At the heart of our individual preciousness and shared dignity is what our sages say in Pirkei Avot: “Beloved is the human being created in the image of God.” This means we are all graced with a spiritual dimension we call a soul that reflects, in some way, the majesty, brilliance and light of God Himself. Our souls are the source of all the creativity, genius, energy and tenacity of the human spirit.Our sages teach us that God, in granting each of us a soul, invites us to be His partners in creation. We all have the power to act and behave in a way that helps make the world a better place. Side by side with the awesome power of the human spirit is the existential vulnerability of the human condition. Our lives sit at the awkward seam of apparent contradictions: We are physical but also spiritual; we have bodies but also souls; we are essentially frail but also remarkably strong; our bodies are mortal but our souls are immortal. As human beings, we live with an acute awareness of our own vulnerability, which is why we turn, with humility, to God. When we have faith, even our darkest times are blessed with His light. Our response to the current pandemic reflects this paradox of the human condition. On the one hand, we are deploying our remarkable medical, scientific and operational resources to stave off disaster. On the other hand, the coronavirus is a poignant reminder of our collective fragility. Despite our grand 21st-century advancements in medicine and technology, a stealthy and invisible virus has demonstrated our weakness. We recognize and express in prayers our fundamental vulnerability, and acknowledge that we are, after all, in God’s hands. As we collectively grapple with this threat to our well-being, let us each embrace this crisis as an opportunity to embark on a journey of spiritual growth of recommitting ourselves to treating everyone with equality and dignity; of celebrating the greatness, creativity and tenacity of the human spirit; of humbly accepting our vulnerability and connecting with God Who made us in His image, and endowed us with not only the strength to persevere but also with the spirit to thrive. Let us emerge from this turbulent and unsettling chapter of human history, as greater people with more compassion, faith, appreciation and strength than ever before.The writer is chief rabbi of South Africa.