Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Orthodox leaders back calls for mass vaccination


 At the beginning of his weekly video Torah lesson, Rabbi Asher Weiss let his viewers know he was about to broach a contentious topic.

“I know that not everybody will like what I say,” said Weiss, a leading Orthodox Jewish legal authority in Israel with a large following in the United States, peppering Hebrew terms into his speech. “But if I won’t speak my mind I think it would be a sin.”

The sensitive subject of his lesson?

The COVID-19 vaccine. After an hourlong class packed with rabbinic sources, Weiss gave his verdict: “When we deal with the question [of whether] to take the vaccine: Yes. Definitely yes.


  1. This should be the least controversial thing out there.
    I was reading a teshuvah by Rav Zilberstein, Shlit"a, this morning about a yeshiva guy who developed depression and medication was recommended. He refused to take it because he didn't want to be labelled as having mental illness.
    Rav Shach, z"l, was consulted and say that the medication should be hidden in his food. He confirmed it didn't have a bitter taste so he wouldn't notice.
    And here's my question: the halakha clearly demands that we follow a doctor's advice. If the doctor says "Take this pill" then you take the pill. So why is it that Rav Shach didn't just say "Tell him to follow the halakha"?

  2. I have no position on the vaccines.

    To me, taking a vaccine is like being drafted into the army.

    There is a possibility of a soldier being killed or injured when he serves. But the alternative might be that his country is taken over by an enemy.

    Someone who takes a vaccine takes a risk. It's not necesarily the one who is vaccinated that benefits, but society overall benefits when there is widespread vaccination.

    I've been trying to start a commune for years. A commune is not about being a hippie, or about communism. There have been communes in America for hundreds of years and they've taken many forms. My commune is about living more simply and sharing common resources in order to save money and give young people a chance to work, learn Torah, and start a family without having to spend years in school first, take out large loans and/or depend on government money and programs.

    As part of this project I study communes and intentional communities from the past.

    I used to think that a good way to avoid a commune falling into the trap of becoming a cult was to emphasize the importance of each commune member thinking for themselves and using their freewill.

    But the examples of Jonestown and of Heaven's Gate disprove that.

    Many of the people of the people at Jonestown voluntarily stayed there, right up to the time of the mass suicide/mass murder -- it was both to some extent.

    Heaven's Gate reduced it's core group down to those who on their own accepted the commune's rules and beliefs. The videos the members made shortly before committing suicide indicate that they were making the choice of their own volition.

    So, I tentatively conclude that the real ingredient for immunizing a group against becoming a suicide cult is not to require that people slavishly be willing to sacrifice their lives for a greater cause. As Jews, we are already required to be Moser Nefesh for Hashem. The idea for a Halachic commune, then, is to avoid manipulating members' willingness to die into dying for the wrong cause.

    This brings me to my gripe with those who promote the vaccines. As I said, I am not for or against the vaccines themselves. I am not against the idea that citizens have a responsibility not only to themselves but to society as a whole.

    But those who insist on near universal vaccination of the population give me the feel of a cult pushing their deadly concoction. The COVID vaccines may not in and of themselves be deadly. But neither were the drinks served at Jonestown during practice suicide runs.

    But the day came when the drinks at Jonestown were actually poisoned. And those who didn't voluntarily drink were forcibly injected or shot.

    We know we live in immoral societies. The same medical profession that encourages vaccination also seems to have little to complain about doctors trying to turn girls into boys.

    Where are we headed?


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