What a Coronavirus Teshuva From Bnei Brak Can Tell Us About Ourselves

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36 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    One essential element in Psak Halacha is gathering as many relevant facts as possible, which entails having robust communication channels to content experts who can shoot down half-truths and hearsay and give the straight story as they see it. They may differ with one another but they can’t be brushed aside. It’s also instructive to find true parallels in past responsa by Gedolim. Finally, on life-and-death matters that don’t demand his immediate decision, a posek should recognize his own limitations and the superior knowledge base and judgment of higher level poskim.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      It is well known that once a scientific or technological issue was explained to the CI or RSZA both the CI and RSZA could express their understanding of the same and the person who presented the issue was astounded by their grasp of the issue. RMF also was acutely aware of medical and technological issues. It is also known that when the CJ rabbinical body decades ago “ruled” that microphones could be used in shul, the Agudas HaRabbonim reacted with an issur. RYBS was informed of both and stated both were wrong-the Rabbinical Assembly did not understand the Halacha and the Agudas HaRabbonim did not understand the science. Rendering Psak and writing ShuT on such issues requires an awareness and appreciation of the scientific , medical, etc isssues and the impact of the Psak not just on the person posing the inquiry

  2. Shelley Schwarzbaum says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein
    Thank you for this article. When i first saw the psak described on a different website, i was furious. I take care of my 92 year old parents (who have numerous health issues, including severe dementia), and my biggest fear is of their being exposed to COVID19. As careful as we all are, there are risks that are unavoidable- their caregivers must sometimes ride buses, my parents sometimes need to be taken to a doctor, or to the ER. While we don’t live in Bnei Brak, cases of Corona anywhere in Israel directly affect us.
    As a dati savta, I don’t have any connection to haredi poskim, and certainly not to the one who issued this psak. HOWEVER, you do! You have co-authors on this website who are involvd with the Aguda, your yourself have rabbinical colleagues– I beg you to do everything in your power (and I really do appreciate this blog post) to get through to the author of this psak, to his associates, to Hareidi politicians (who have not been helpful -to say the least- in urging compliance) and explain that they are causing loss of life.
    (Just an aside, if this was really just about Tora learning, then I could understand the implementation of a strictly enforced capsule system, but as soon as their disregard for social distancing extends to weddings, funerals, and Uman, then, in my opinion, their stance loses all crediblity). Any influence you may have, beyond this article would be greatly appreciated

    (Please post annonymousely if possible. I’m including identifying information, so you know that i am a real person)

  3. rkz says:

    WADR.
    The reasonable and responsible approach that HaGaon HaMeshiv Shlita prefers is very close to the policy advocated by some of the leading medical authorities (e.g. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard, Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford, and Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine and economics at Stanford)

    • People living in stable societies do not, cannot, and should not have the option of choosing their own policies when there is a need for uniform implementation. Those who do not understand this are part of the problem

      • rkz says:

        I respectfully disagree.
        As I showed in my book, the role of govt. is strictly limited in halakha. (i.e. Jewish govt.)
        In all other areas, every individual is required to decide what he (and his family) should do.
        If covid was ch”v like cholera, there is a case to be made for a uniform policy, but b”h it is not like cholera.
        Covid is indeed a disease, and it poses a danger that should be dealt with.
        How to deal with covid is a matter of dispute between experts. It must be noted that lockdowns (for example) have many ramifications and consequences in many fields, and experts in all fields should be consulted.

      • ES says:

        rkz:
        ‘the role of gov’t is limited in halachah’
        Sorry, but it’s just intuitively obvious that any stable society needs a gov’t, particularly for matters that affect the general public. Otherwise what you get is anarchy.
        ‘In all other areas, every individual is required to decide what he(and his family) should do’. Are you seriously suggesting that every individual has the right to decide how he will react to COVID?
        ‘Experts in all fields should be consulted’. Do you honestly believe that a Rav from bnei brak consulted ‘experts in all fields’ before he issued a psak?Even if his facts were correct(and they aren’t) how can you issue a public written psak on something that is so dynamic and changing constantly, yet the psak will be listened to, not just today or tomorrow, but potentially months down the line. Even if the facts were correct as of the day it was written, they won’t be correct a week later.

    • ES says:

      I assume you are referring to the Great Barrington Declaration. It just doesn’t say what you think it says and is actually very far from what the teshuva says:
      1. The declaration is a statement of medical opinion. The teshuva sounds like a call to civil disobedience from a rabbinic figure with a wide sphere of influence who is issuing psakim on medical issues about which he has little or no expertise.
      2. The Great Barrington Declaration in no way downplays the seriousness of the disease and, as far as I can tell, does not tell anyone to take off masks indoors. It merely suggests an alternative approach to solving this crisis and allows room for disagreement. A psak halacha compels followers of this posek to comply with his opinion.

      • rkz says:

        I was not referring only to the declaration, but mainly to what the experts that I cited wrote and said in public statements over the last few months.
        I did not downplay the seriousness of covid, and RMSK shlita did not downplay it either.
        RMSK shlita is an important posek, and he has an obligation to pasken. Like any psak that has scientific aspects, the posek hears or reads what experts say (lav davka govt. experts!) and paskens according to his understanding of the mtziut (e.g. the mask issue) and the halakha. (Please see what I wrote about this issue in my book, written and published a few years ago). Just like a scientist offers his scientific opinion, so too a Posek offers his halakhic opinion. The main difference is that a psak is usually based on a much wider basis than a scientific opinion.
        A psak does not “compel” anyone in modern times. A posek has no police force at his disposal to insure compliance. Adraba, it is the govt. that can and does force people to obey the edicts it chooses to issue.

    • Yossi says:

      What is the name of your book?

  4. BF says:

    Excellent points.
    Rav Adlerstein seems to attribute significance to the precise locale in which the responsum was penned: Bnei Brak.
    I would suggest, for the sake of accuracy, qualifying that: “Hasidic Bnei Brak.”
    Bnei Brak is far from monolithic, and Rav Gershon Edelstein, who also resides in Bnei Brak, has not been issuing statements like this, to say the least.

  5. Raymond says:

    Sometimes when I write my comments on here, I feel like I am going way over my head, way beyond my abilities plus of course I have zero authority. And yet, concerning the above subject, several thoughts came immediately to my mind which I hope will be constructive or at least thought provoking ones.

    One is this. I seem to recall the idea that we should not depend on miracles. Unless the situation is both extraordinary and really has no other alternative, such as when our nation was borne in Ancient Egypt and thus open miracles from G-d were warranted, G-d allows the natural, consistent laws of the universe to run their course. Thus for a religious Jew to tell him or herself that no harm can come to him or her as long as they follow G-d’s Commandments, so flies in the face of our everyday reality, that to me such a stance strikes me as absurd. If I may use an extreme example because it helps to illustrate my point, what would be the fate of somebody who decides to take a walk, against the flow of traffic no less, on a fast-moving highway while openly studying the Talmud? Does anybody really believe that such a person would have any more chance of surviving such a suicidal act, as would any other human being? I would like to think that Judaism prides itself on being realistic. Depending on miracles is anything but that. Endangering one’s life by needlessly exposing oneself to the Chinese virus, is equally absurd.

    Another related thought is a kind of variation on a theme talked about by the Rambam. I hesitate to even give this a try, so aware of what a giant the Rambam was compared to any of us but especially compared to me, and so I just hope I do not misrepresent what he said, but I seem to recall him saying something along the lines of what fools we are if we take certain passages in the Talmud too literally, especially those that fly in the face of common sense and our ordinary, everyday experiences. I do not recall at the moment specific examples of this, but what I can do is recommend a truly superior book I read years ago, devoted to this very subject, called The Juggler and the King, by Rabbi Aharon Feldman. Outside of the Torah itself, it is probably the greatest book I can remember reading. I undoubtedly need to read it again.

    Having said the above, one might think that I am coming down hard on the Chareidim here in regard to their reaction to the Chinese virus. However, that is assuming that they are not following what the medical experts are saying on this issue. I am not convinced that that is the case. Contrary to what the mainstream media would have us believe, there really does not appear to be a consensus regarding just about anything connected to the Chinese virus. The allegedly reckless practices of the Chareidim may therefore not be any better or worse than the practices of the population at large.

    To illustrate what I mean, my understanding of the Chinese virus is that for there to be a reasonable possibility of contracting that virus, one has to have a compromised immune system, have pre-existing health conditions such as obesity, a heart condition, or diabetes, and be indoors and face-to-face for at least fifteen minutes with somebody who has the Chinese virus. So just to cite some examples here, even if one rides on a crowded bus, or is in a waiting room in a doctor’s waiting room, or is waiting in line at a grocery or retail store, none of those situations truly warrant wearing a mask or social distancing, since the people around oneself are constantly moving, not there long enough to be a cause for worry. And when one is outside, one basically does not have to worry at all about catching the Chinese virus. Thus when I see people wearing a mask who are by themselves, such as when driving or jogging, or with others but outside, I just symbolically shake my head at their willingness to deprive their brains of sufficient oxygen, all for the sake of virtue signaling, plus their mask wearing just makes them look strange in general.

    I understand that for the sake of peace, that we Jews need to comply with government directives, as absurd and as overbearing as those rules are. At the same time, however, when those rules are so restrictive, so counterproductive, and so draconian, I would think that the inner Abraham, the inner revolutionary, should be ignited within us. It is no accident that we Jews, however secular, have been at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement. Giving up our right to assemble in religious contexts, and compromising our right to breathe freely and actually see each other’s faces, is to surrender to the slavery that plagued us in Egypt as well as in every other tyrannical society since then. Certainly, those most prone to catching the Chinese virus should probably practice discretion in this matter, but the point is, that it should be an individual decision not forced on us by government mandate.

  6. MK says:

    “He writes as if no one else existed but Bnei Brak.
    He ignores the impact of his words on others. ”
    In the 1960’s there was a severe water shortage in NY. I remember the signs, “Save water!”
    My brother in law lived on the lower East Side, in the same building as the Gadol Hador Rav Yosef Henkin ZTL.
    They ate together in a communal Sukkah and as a young Yeshiva bachur, he had the honor of assisting the aged Rav Henkin with Netilas Yadayim. As my brother in law was ready to pour the water on his hands, what did the Gadoil Hador say?
    “Be careful, not too much water, there’s a shortage”!
    What would he say to the author of this Teshuva?

  7. Shades of Gray says:

    Mordy Getz,  Jacob Kornbluh , and Rabbi Yakov Horowitz were called “Mosrim” in April. The JTA report commented then , “While Kornbluh may not be in any physical danger from the pashkevil…it is emblematic of a wider effort to intimidate Hasidic Jews who speak out about problems in their communities. “

    We now see Getz(or at least his brother) and Kornbluh were in actual life-threatening danger from goons who identify as  Chasidic.

    By contrast, Mordy Getz, termed “Boro Park’s Paul Revere” by Mishpacha(available online) for alerting people about Corona precautions,  also helps those widowed by Corona by paying their grocery bills, and represents the best of the Chasidish world:

    “Getz credits his relationship with the Bobover rebbe, Rav Naftali Tzvi Halberstam ztz”l, who encouraged him to do chesed. Most importantly, the rebbe taught him to listen to the plight of the poor and suffering. The rebbe once expressed to Getz that “it is a shame we don’t say in Bobov” the phrase “tza’akas hadal taazin” — that Hashem empathizes, rather than merely listens, with the plight of a poor person — in Nishmas.

  8. mycroft says:

    however, when Jews in the US decide that they, too, can decide to ignore the law of the land? We know now that the actions of some of our US subcommunities have precipitated a chilul Hashem unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes.

    Sadly, if anything underepresenting the danger to Klal Israel. For centuries we have on occasion been falsely accused of spreading disease to non Jews. Here we have a case where data shows Hareidi neighborhoods not only have positivity rates many times surrounding neighborhoods. The virus does not respect boundaries, people have connections with other people. The virus may well spread to surrounding communities. The reason why various countries and states restrict outsiders from visiting. One can’t prevent a resident of one part of a state from visiting another part.If virus becomes even more widespread and RL hospitalizations and deaths increase-who will be blamed for being transmitters of the virus?

    • Reb Yid says:

      And yet, despite this, over Chol Hamoed the Moetzet and the Vaad Roshei Yeshiva of Torah UMesorah issued a frightening statement that STILL resisted shutting down schools and shuls.

      Heck, the Agudah sued Cuomo on Friday over this (thankfully saner heads prevailed).

      There is a public health crisis. Keeping schools and shuls open with no restrictions is a recipe for absolute disaster. When this happened around Purim, the excuse was “we didn’t know”. There is no such excuse now. How many hospitalized folks in Lakewood, Boro Park, Palm Tree will it take for the community as a whole to take it with the seriousness it deserves?

      I haven’t been to a worship service since early March. I’m not lovin’ it. It’s not just Haredi or Hasidic Jews that are having their ways of life disrupted. But we have to look out for each other as fellow human beings. What possesses someone to burn a mask, to consider it treif, to harrass someone for keeping human beings healthy?

      • nt says:

        Agudah did not say there should be no restrictions, just that the restrictions imposed (no more that ten people in a room) were draconian and far more than necessary. In addition, Cuomo had promised rabbanim in NY that shuls could be open at 50% capacity before he backtracked on Succos when Jews could not reply. He then said in a phone call with Rabbanim that the closures were caused by fear, not science. (https://twitter.com/HaMeturgeman/status/1316071151836291075?s=20).

      • Raymond says:

        What possesses people to burn their masks, is that they choose to freely breathe rather than be mindless sheep. Wearing dirty, suffocating masks is an unhealthy practice both for our brains as well as for our individual human rights as guaranteed both by our Constitution as well as G-d Himself.

      • Reb Yid says:

        nt–

        Whatever Cuomo did or did not say, or did or did do, should not distract us from the consistent and utter disregard and flouting of rules by certain segments of the Orthodox world that most other New Yorkers have been abiding by since March.

        The reason why the rates are so high in many of these frum areas is precisely because some folks continue to congregate indoors in large groups without masks. Period. They are the only such group or subgroup I’m aware of who are in such a category.

        There are plenty of other Orthodox synagogues and schools out there in the NY metro area which continue to function, and have done so for some time, albeit in complete compliance with local, state and federal guidelines. No-one is out to “get” the Orthodox or Jews–time to cut that nonsense out.

      • nt says:

        Reb Yid: 1) Cases are rising in upstate New York and other counties without charedi populations.

        2) Basketball parks and other gatherings in the “red zones” have been ignored while shuls and schools have been targeted for inspection over and over.

        3)Cuomo has many times singled out the Orthodox community, including using photos from many years ago to show noncompliance.

        4) In a recent court case filed by the Catholic church, it was discovered that the “red zones” are drawn up in Cuomo’s office, not by doctors or experts.

        5) When Jews are targeted for physical assault on NY streets, no help is given, but somehow there are plenty of law enforcement officers to shut down playgrounds used by chassidim.

        6)The charedim agreed to follow Cuomo’s orders until he unilaterally changed them on Succos when they could not comment or even know what the new orders were.

        You would know this if you followed OJPAC or @Hameturgaman (Eli Steinberg) on Twitter. It is very disappointing to see someone who calls himself Reb Yid blindly swallow the anti-charedi and antisemitic reporting that treats chassidim as lawless freaks instead of actually listening to them and understanding their perspective.

        See also

  9. Steven Brizel says:

    When you read any or all of the Piskei Halacha on the virus by RHS and others by R M Willig, as well as by R Asher Weiss, there is always a strong consideration of
    1)the factors of Chillul Hashem,
    2) the severity of the pandemic,
    3) the negative effect of our communities carrying on as if we are somehow oblivious to the Pandemic ( Aivah) (which the countless obligatory notices all spring demonstrated that we were struck very severely by the Pandemic),,
    4) an awareness of the Mesorah of Brisk and the Piskei Halacha of such Gdolei Acharonim as R Akiva Eiger ZL in Inyannei Pikuach Nefesh, ,
    5) a complete appreciation of the fact that we live in a Malchus Shel Chesed where Dina DeMalchusa Dina has real life applications
    with a realization that our lives require healthy dosages of Hishtadlus and bitachon while preserving Shemiras HaMitzvos even if that means some minhagim have to be put on the individual and communal back burner until it is safer.
    If someone can give Mareh Mkomos to other Poskim in NA who have written Piskei Halacha with an awareness of these issues, as opposed to writing purely and simply without consideration of the above in an almost oblivious context that demonstrates the familiar statement of Ikar Chaser Min HaSefer and which fail to consider such factors as Chillul HaShem, Aivah, etc, I am sure that all of us would endeavor to read the same.

    WADR the above Teshuvah fails to address the facts that the same Gemara in Pesachim 8b as noted by RHS and R Willig in a very recent Psak about hakafos, masking and distancing at Hakafos and Chasunos, states that any immunity to a Shomer Mitzvos is not to be relied on in the presence of a known danger.

    One can very well maintain that overly cavalier attitudes and weekly pictorial evidence demonstrating the same in the Charedi media about not masking and distancing this summer in the Catskills led to the uptick in Lakewood, Monsey, Brooklyn and Queens. Like it or not, mask distribution programs should have been ongoing in a non stop manner together with strong statements that masking and distancing was necessary. Unfortunately, those of who live in the red orange and yellow zones of NYC are now having to deal with the fact that as always, the cavalier attitude and dismissal of science and epidemiological evidence as doom and gloom have resulted in a classical depiction of what happens when you act in a way in which you are your own enemy. Yes, there is a concept of herd immunity, but its application in the US, as opposed to Sweden, or Japan, remains problematic, and I don’t think that the political powers that be in the US ( or Israel for that matter view it as a viable option precisely because of the emphasis on the value on human life in the US, which is not evident in other countries.

    Five shuls were fined a total of $150,000.00 for violating the admittedly harsh regulations in NY. When you ignore warnings from Albany and act in a gravely mistaken manner as if the pandemic is over, running to court with allegations of anti Semitism that are undermined by the conduct of our community, will not win in any court . That is what is called not having clean hands when you ask that the regulations in issue be declared unconstitutional , or to use the phrase of Chazal, Ain Kategor Naases Sanegor.
    We will only win by looking at ourselves in the mirror and even by asking our fellow residents who don’t mask and engage in social distancing the simple question-why not? You don’t have to be a Baal Nefesh or Ben or Bas Aliyah to ask the question.

    R Twersky’s most recent shiur on the Chillul HaShem caused by the riots last week in Boro Park is a must watch and critique of the terrible events that gave rise to the wall to wall news coverage of the same. We all must realize that even in such communities, we have to send a message that Dina DMalchusa Dina is a halacha that has significant impact , and that those who claim that Boro Park doesn’t follow American law and who engage in violent street protests by imitating the worst aspects of the riots this summer should be condemned, and not rationalized. Another must read on the same issue is the letter of Rebbitzen Shani Bechoffer

    This most recent Purim, we curtailed and cancelled our Seudas Purim in its midst when a close relative ZL was taken by ambulance to a major NY hospital with what was diagnosed as pneumonia but may have very well been Covid. I am not understating the fact that the hospital looked like a scene out of a science fiction novel. While I was standing on line to see my relative who was in an isolation ward, I was behind two Chasidishe young men, who all too tragically belittled what was going on and expressed no need for any hishtadlus whatsoever . We should all never want to go back to the dark days of the spring by thinking about we all have to do both in the realms of Hishtadlus and Bitachon, rather than ignoring and belittling the facts on the ground. We all have to ask ourslves whether wish to be recorded in history as being part of the solution or the problem that we face in dealing in Covid 19

    • Mycroft says:

      Agree with your post, might also add although probably implicit in rest of your piece that I believe Yahadus values human life at least as much as US and Israel and thus could not accept a desire to go towards herd immunity which would probably cause a loss of life much greater than we will have otherwise . We hope and can realistically expect that within a year or so there will be widespread availibility of a vaccine. If one combines the vaccine with continuation of mitigation factors one would expect to have frequency of Covid go way down. If there are future therapeutics that also cut down the impact of Covid, that combination IYH will make Covid something much less deadly. Unfortunately, clearly that has not happened yet.

  10. Steve Brizel says:

    R Twersky on Chillul HaSHem This is must readinghttps://www.torahweb.org/torah/special/2020/rtwe_chilulhashem.html

  11. lacosta says:

    http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/2020/10/the-beis-medrash-and-noahs-ark.html wonder if this is true. it would seem then to be litvish mehalech as well in terms of the emunat chachamim.

    i guess the preference given to modernity vs allegience to maamarei chazal would then fall as yet another demerit against MO theology….

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Yet the preference for Maamareu Chazal and Bitachon as opposed to the need for at least some hishtadlus ends for all of us when we need the best medical care or the quickest response to an emergency

    • Bob Miller says:

      What’s wrong with this combination?—
      1. Statement represented to a third or fourth party as a direct quotation
      2. Disclaimer to the effect that it might not be genuine
      Using hearsay in these matters or in general is not such a hot idea. Let’s have a Gedolim news service in which Gedolim personally and directly confirmed the accuracy of their reported statements, or these wouldn’t be released to the public.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    See here for R Asher Weiss’s views in contrast to those of R Klein, the teshuvah cited by R http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/288970

  13. Bob Miller says:

    One problem posed by this epidemic is that we each see a piece of the puzzle (possible causes, solutions, further development…) that is colored by our prior experiences and biases, and we each become enamored of our piece. Meanwhile, our elected officials make their good, bad, and ugly decisions which we also view subjectively even when hard evidence about their effects and side-effects can be found. More humility all around, even among some medical professionals and some poskim, couldn’t hurt. Worldwide, we are still in exile and always have to factor in how our actions can cause us harm.

  14. Chaim Twerski says:

    I know of cases, and surely do most people know of the same, where a person on the way to perform a mitzva was killed in an automobile accident. While there is a promise that sheluchei mitzva einam nizakin, we must assume that automobile accidents are considered schichei hezeika. Now, there have been more than 2000 persons who have died from covid19 in Israel, and over 300,000 who have been infected, while the number who have died in automobile accidents is less than 350. The same is so in the USA. There have been about 36,000 deaths due to automobile accidents per year, and there have been over 200,000 covid19 deaths. I think it is fairly clear that if automobile accidents are considered shichiach hezeika, all the more so for covid. Even given the statistics of a few weeks ago when the death toll in Israel was 800, the same argument is apparent. The idea that the above cited rabbi from Bnei Braq that covid19 is not shechiach hezeika is, in my opinion, demonstratively false.

  15. Shades of Gray says:

    “We cannot say that this is an emphasis in the chinuch we give our children…But we need it for ourselves.”

    A good place to start is at the beginning. In the preface to this coming week’s Parsha, the Netziv famously speaks of the “yesharim’s”, upright, concern for others far outside their religious orbit :

    עוד היו “ישרים”, היינו: שהתנהגו עם אומות העולם, אפיל ועובדי אלילים מכוערים; מכל מקום היו עִמם באהבה, וחשו לטובתם, באשר היא קיום הבריאה

    Orthodox blood plasma donation was a wonderful example of caring for others.

    Making large weddings shows a lack of “yashar”, responsibility and care for the world mentioned by Netziv. Whatever the outcome and justification of the current lawsuit—the NYT editorial said that the city could help the Orthodox community by displaying respect to and partnering with them to enable prayer by “providing tents and closing streets for as long as necessary”–Corona czar, Dr. Deborah Birx also has a point in my opinion “that the Orthodox Jews clashing with local officials over new coronavirus restrictions in Brooklyn need to understand that they’re living in a “community of others.” “We are a community together. No one group lives in isolation”.

  16. Steve Brizel says:

    Let’s agree that our community did not emphasize masking and distancing sufficiently this past summer that Cuomo reacted harshly and that the riots and litigation were the wrong responses Cuomo’s latest statement about “ religious practices” without any qualification strikes me as inappropriate to say the least However his threat to cut funding is the only weapon of enforcement that speaks and carries weight I don’t think that disobedience of Cuomo’s directives will be productive and send the wrong message de Dina DMalchusa

  17. Schemerel says:

    Many here and even more so in the general online and media world seem to be absolutely baffled about how anyone can possibly not view the cost effectiveness of certain measures to contain Corona the same way they do.

    They also seem to take for granted that the government Corona prevention methods all make sense and are being implemented for nothing other than altruistic safety purposes.

    As such their message to those who don’t see it the way they do really boils to a self righteous “you are an evil idiot for viewing this differently than I do”.

    In the best case scenario their message is of little more substance from a dissident perspective than an ad saying “Drink Pepsi!”

    This is without mixing in politics and how the government, social and non social media turned the issue into an all out “us against them” fight with regard to the some parts of the frum world.

    This is why the message isn’t getting across.

  18. Steve Brizel says:

    Take a look at the cover and the llnked articlehttps://mishpacha.com/shuttered-shuls-shattered-trust/
    Perhaps the inquiry should be whether we have done enough individually and communally, Take a look the quoted language from RHS in this articlehttps://www.queensjewishlink.com/index.php/opinion/3234-turning-mageifah-to-simchah#:~:text=Manny%20Behar%20is%20the%20former,at%20mjbnolabels%40aol.com.
    “Later on Wednesday, I listened to a shiur by Rav Hershel Schachter shlita. He said that during the 1831 cholera epidemic, Rabbi Akiva Eiger zt”l issued a number of takanos for the Yamim Nora’im, which included limiting the number of people in shul, requiring that every other seat in the shul be empty, and shortening the davening by eliminating piyutim. When the pandemic ended, the King of Prussia honored Rabbi Akiva Eiger, because the death rate among the Jews was lower than the death rate in the rest of Europe.

    Rav Schachter went on to say, “I don’t know why people in our generation think they are bigger tzadikim than Rabbi Akiva Eiger. They’re not worried about the social distancing, they’re not worried about wearing the masks, they’re not worried about shortening the davening. Rabbi Akiva Eiger was a holy tzadik and he did all of those things.”

    I returned to work after working at home between Purim and Pesach and when you ride the buses and trains and walk the streets of a nearly deserted Manhattan everyone wears masks without exception. The failure of our communities to do so is no small Chillul HaShem

    When we can walk on the streets of the major Torah observant communities and see distancing and masks without exception , then we can talk about being Noseh Bol Chavero ( as urged by so many Darshanim, Baalei Musar , Baalei Chasidus and Baalei Machshavah nd and we can answer the challenge of Rambam of not acting as set forth in in Hilcos Teshuvah 3:11. Until then , that Maamar Chazal will unfortunately sound like Drush and a mere Musar Shmuse as opposed to dictating how we are supposed to act Bein Adam LChavero.

    The almost non stop obituaries last spring should have ended any IMO misinformed rationalization, belittling and denial of the medical evidence, hospital admissions and fatalities, the dangerous nature of the Magefa in the absence of a vaccine, the need to mask and distance and where the recent uptick in cases is coming from. Thinking that we can press a magic reset button as individuals and a community and pretend that our inactions have no impact on the world around us is not just denial but Chillul HaShem. Can any of us deny that we read and saw far too many pictures of simchas et al with zero evidence of masks and distancing could see with our own eyes or were aware of masking and distancing not being practiced at all or insufficiently on the streets and in some, but not all shuls in our communities? Were we as a community and individuals constantly
    and properly encouraging and reminding ourselves , friends and even passersby on the streets of the need to distance and mask not just in shul but on our streets? These questions, IMO, are staring at those of us in red, yellow and orange zones in our collective proverbial mirror. Why can’t our communities be 100% compliant as well? Like it or not, the recent uptick in diagnosed and hospitalized cases of Covid in our communities is a Chillul HaShem of immense proportions caused by our own conduct that we are facing such draconian regulations

  19. dr. bill says:

    i am reminded of a favorite story that I witnessed. The Rav ztl as did his grandfathers made tea in a kli sheni, since tea was a spice (tavlin.) a student (with chutzpah) asked how the Rav knew that our tea is tavlin. His response: “how do you know yellow is yellow?” rabbis who take phrases which they feel capable of understanding as opposed to also depending on a mimetic tradition as their basis for psak, are not following traditional methods of psak.

    a great deal more surrounds this issue, but it is important to remember that this allows the devil to freely quote scriptures.

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