Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
“Vaccinating is obligatory according to Jewish law” – Judaism’s leading rabbis
Below is a list of statements by the following authoritative Rabbinic voices on the matter: Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, R’ David Lau. Sephardic Chief Rabbi, R’ Yitzhak Yosef. Former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. Chief Rabbi of England, R’ Ephraim Mirvis. The Orthodox Union and Rabbinical Council of America. R’ Chaim Kanievsky. Rabbi Gershon Edelstein. Rabbi Asher Weiss. Rabbi Hershel Schachter. Rabbi Mordechai Willig. Chief Rabbi of Tzfat. Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu. Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein, mayor of Bnei Brak. Rabbi Meir Mazuz, head of Yeshivat Kisei Rahamim.
In addition to all the rabbis above, the following rabbis (among many others unlisted) publicly vaccinated: The Chief Rabbi of Turkey, Rabbi Isak Halevi. The Vizhnitzer Rebbe. The Erlauer Rebbe. The Boyaner Rebbe. The Gerer Rebbe. The Belzer Rebbe. Rabbi Shalom Cohen, senior Sephardi Haredi Rabbi. Rabbi David HaCohen, head of the Hebron yeshiva.
Statements from the leading halachic authorities:
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, R’ David Lau: “With God’s help, we have gotten here. After months of the coronavirus raging, there is a vaccine available that can help contain the virus. Everyone who can be vaccinated against the virus according to the doctor’s instructions needs to do so. COVID is a certain danger, compared to minor concerns about side effects.”
Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, R’ Yitzhak Yosef: “I am calling on our brethren in the Holy Land to follow doctors’ instructions. Allow them to heal us … Now that we have learned that a vaccine has been found that prevents COVID, and all the necessary trials were conducted and experts say that the vaccine is effective in stopping the pandemic and is not dangerous – each and every person must be vaccinated in accordance with doctors’ orders.”
Former Chief Rabbi of Israel, R’ Yisrael Meir Lau: “You must not be afraid…Vaccination is an obligation for all of us…I very much hope that this vaccine will bring complete health to all of us. We are all in this together, it is not a matter of right or left, religious or no, Jewish, Arab or anything else.”
The Orthodox Union (OU) and the Rabbinical Council of America ruled on December 15, 2020, that “the Torah obligation to preserve our lives and the lives of others requires us to vaccinate for COVID-19 as soon as a vaccine becomes available…We strongly encourage all those eligible to access the COVID-19 vaccination to do so. We hope and pray that such steps will help bring to an end the tragic toll that the pandemic has taken on our community and beyond.”
R’ Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of England: “We should recognize Hashem is calling upon us to be His partners. He wants us to have hishtadlut, our efforts to behave with responsibility, at this critically important time to ensure that we don’t take any risk with regard to our health and that we responsibly safeguard and protect the lives of others…When a vaccine will be offered to you, you have a religious imperative to take it, to look after yourself and to look after those around you.”
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky said that everyone needs to be vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus. When one of his followers said some people are reluctant to be vaccinated out of fear it will harm them, the rabbi responded one should “not be afraid.” The group of followers and Kanievsky concluded the meeting with a blessing for health and the success of Israel’s vaccine campaign.
Rabbi Gershon Edelstein: “The vaccine is a great salvation…there is no danger from it and there should be no concern about the safety of the shots. The principles of caution (of the government health regulations) are a great halachic obligation…If someone is not cautious, then he harms others and puts them in danger…. Someone who is not cautious sins [and violates the religious precept] of ‘you shall protect your own lives’ and is deserving punishment.”
Rabbi Avraham Elimelech Firer, speaking on behalf of three major Haredi leaders – Rabbis Kanievsky, Edelstein, and Shalom Cohen: “Everyone who is able to be vaccinated, should do so.”
Rabbi Asher Weiss: “When we deal with the question [of whether] to take the vaccine: Yes. Definitely yes…Every new medicine or medical procedure might have long-term effects, but we always try to strike the right balance between what is needed now and what might, theoretically, happen in the future…People are dying, people are suffering, and we could alleviate this pain, and diminish the suffering and save many people. This is a safe vaccine as far as we could know.”
Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu: “I tell everyone to take vaccines. Those harmed by vaccines are very few and it is not at all certain that they died because of the vaccine. On the other hand, most people are cured and live thanks to vaccines and health systems. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the health systems that save lives.”
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The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
The Three Day Purim
Shushan Purim-Feb 26, 27 and 28th
When the fifteenth of Adar falls on Shabbat, Purim is celebrated over a three-day period in the "walled" cities [Jerusalem and Shushan]. Other cities fulfill all of the obligations of Purim on Friday, the fourteenth. Those who are obligated to celebrate Purim on the fifteenth, however, divide the obligations over the period between the fourteenth and sixteenth. How is this done?
The mitzvot of reading the Megillah and giving gifts to the poor are fulfilled on the fourteenth, as in the other cities. On Shabbat, the fifteenth, a second Torah scroll is taken from the Sanctuary and the portion from the parsha of Beshallach that tells of the war with Amalek is read. The Al ha-Nissim prayer is added to the Amidah and the Grace after Meals. On Sunday, the sixteenth, the festive meal is held and gifts of food are sent to friends.
Why was it decided to fulfill the mitzvot of Purim in this manner?
Although the Megillah should be read in the "walled cities" on the fifteenth, the Sages prohibited the reading of the Megillah on Shabbat, lest the Megillah scroll be inadvertently carried in the public domain by people seeking someone capable of reading it for them, a violation of the laws of Shabbat. When then was the reading not delayed until Sunday, the sixteenth? The Sages deduced from specific verses of the Megillah that when the reading cannot be done at its proper time, it should be read earlier than required rather than later. [This is in contradiction to other Rabbinic obligations, e.g., the fast of Tishah b'Av, which are fulfilled later, if the time for their fulfillment falls on Shabbat. The verse in the Megillah states: “And these days of Purim shall not pass” (Esther 9:27) that is, we are not permitted to allow the days of Purim, the fourteenth and fifteenth of Adar, to pass without our having observed the mitzvah, but we are permitted to do so earlier than required.
The mitzvah of eating the festive Purim meal is delayed until the sixteenth [even though it could theoretically be fulfilled on Shabbat, the fifteenth] because of our tradition that we do not mix one celebration [in this case Shabbat] with another [in this case the Purim meal].
The giving of gifts to the poor and the exchange of mishlo'ach manot between friends cannot be fulfilled on Shabbat, again because we fear that doing so might lead one to inadvertently carry in the public domain. The former obligation is moved to the fourteenth, so that the poor might enjoy their gifts as early as possible. The latter obligation is delayed until the sixteenth since the the verse in the Megillah, from which we deduce that we do not allow the days of Purim to pass does not refer to the mitzvah of exchanging gifts. Additionally, by delaying its fulfillment until the sixteenth of Adar, we establish a noticeable difference between the celebration of Purim in the walled cities and in other cities.
Although the mitzvah of reading the Megillah can be fulfilled without a minyan, when this mitzvah is fulfilled earlier than required [i.e. when the fifteenth falls on Shabbat and the residents of the walled cities move the reading to the fourteenth] it is customary to read-only in the presence of a minyan. This also applies to the reading of the Megillah for women; i.e., it should be read in the presence of ten women.
Although the sending of mishlo'ach manot is delayed until the sixteenth, it is nevertheless customary for the residents of walled cities to send a few to friends on the fourteenth. It is also traditional to make the Shabbat meal more elaborate than usual, in honor of Purim. It is customary for the residents of the walled cities to dress in festive clothing en the sixteenth to indicate that they are celebrating Purim. As noted, the A1 ha-Nissim prayer is recited on Shabbat, the fifteenth, and is recited on the sixteenth, neither in Shemoneh Esreh nor in the Grace after Meals.
Harvard Professor Dies Climbing World’s 12th Tallest Mountain
A Harvard University professor of medicine died this month on a Pakistani mountain with tefillin in his backpack.
Alex Goldfarb, 57, was an esteemed doctor and also an avid mountain climber. The Russian-born Goldfarb went missing two weeks ago on the five-mile-tall Pastore Peak, the 12th tallest mountain in the world. His body was found near the mountain’s summit.
“Even in Pakistan, Alex wore his yarmulke and tzitzis proudly. And he always brought his tefillin on the mountain,” said Rabbi Mendy Uminer of Chabad of Chestnut Hill. “Climbers measure everything they take with them. They even share a toothbrush. But, Alex wouldn’t go anywhere without tefillin. He took them to the highest and most remote altitudes you could find.”
Goldfarb was a regular at the Chabad, davening there on Shabbos before hosting dinners on his own. “I have a lot of people on Shabbos – 40-50 people – but Alex always had his home open to people who didn’t have a place to go,” said Rabbi Uminer.
Last year, Goldfarb rushed down the eastern seaboard to Elmhurst Hospital in New York to assist overwhelmed staff with treating coronavirus patients.
“It wasn’t easy for Alex to get clearance even though he’s so well-respected,” Rabbi Uminer said. “He was so proud to show me he got clearance. He was sleeping on the floor in the hospital, and did it for almost a month.”
“Alex was a larger-than-life type of guy. There was this kid within him. He was joyful, always smiling, always happy to lend a hand,” said Rabbi Uminer.
“He had this kindred spirit. He lived in a different sphere. If you asked why Alex had to climb that mountain, then you didn’t know Alex. He just had a tremendous neshamah,” said Rabbi Uminer.
Goldfarb’s family has raised $100,000 for recovering his body, which is expected to arrive in America next week.
Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto.
Rainbow over the Temple Mount
Residents of Kidmat Zion neighborhood awake to magical sight over Temple Mount and Mount of Olives on Tu B'Shvat.
This morning, a huge impressive and beautiful rainbow appeared over the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, as seen from the Jewish neighborhood of Kidmat Zion.
Speaking about the uplifting sight - Yosef Bruce- the director of Midreshet Kidmat Yerushalayim says:
"This morning the residents of Kidmat Zion awoke to a beautiful site of a huge inspiring rainbow over the Temple Mount and the mountains of Jerusalem."
"The rainbow symbolizes the cessation of "the Flood" in days gone by, and on this festive day of Tu B'Shvat may it symbolize the end of the deadly coronavirus, and thus bring back tourists to the alleyways of Jerusalem."
Midreshet Kidmat Yerushalayim is a non profit organization under the auspices of Ateret Cohanim and is responsible for education, public relations and tours related to the revival of Jewish life in the Old City and its environs.
Kidmat Zion is a fledgling Jewish neighborhood, currently consisting of 10 Jewish families, at the eastern border of municipal Jerusalem, east of the Mount of Olives.
See you tomorrow bli neder
We need Moshiach now!
Prepare for the three-day Purim in Jerusalem at the end of February