Shocked by Article
I write to express my extreme displeasure with Rabbi Chananya Weissman’s article, “Herd Immunity or Herd Insanity” (op-ed, January 1).
Rabbi Weissman advocates shaking hands, kissing sifrei Torah, and having people stand close to him as he leins. He says it’s “worth the risk,” while acknowledging that it’s “remotely possible” that these very actions may cause someone to die.
I read his article, aloud and in utter shock, to my family on Friday night. For the past nine months, we have been extremely safe, following every rule related to this pandemic. We did this, of course, to protect ourselves and others, as any Torah Jew should, yet according to Rabbi Weissman, “those who live like this are mentally ill” and “paranoid hypochondriacs.” How hurtful!
Yes, Rabbi Weissman, as you stated, we all have to die of something, but I choose not to be the cause of that death if it all possible.
It’s Called Being Careful
Re “Herd Immunity or Herd Insanity?” by Rabbi Chananya Weissman: Social distancing is a geder that has been accepted by the public so that we don’t come to hug others or host a 1,000-person wedding. We refrain from shaking hands as a safeguard.
Most of us are not afraid that every breath will kill us. We know how to wash our hands properly after coming in contact with someone else. Rabbi Weissman writes, “There are a million ways we can die, and Covid-19 is just another one.” Yes, there are many ways we can die, but contracting Covid is preventable and we’re supposed to do our hishtadlus in such matters.
He also writes, “If we know someone who had Covid, we should not share the air they breathe.” The problem is that Covid can be spread one to two days before someone starts showing symptoms, and some people are asymptomatic even longer.
Rabbi Weissman argues that our reaction to this virus “is a mental illness.” I wonder: Is this illness classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders under “responsibly adhering to health protocols in order to prevent mass destruction of life”?
We wear masks and keep a safe distance from one another because we love everyone very much and want to protect them. We don’t fear contracting the virus ourselves. We are afraid of giving it to someone else. Someone who doesn’t wear a mask near me is telling me he or she doesn’t care about me.
So for now, we continue wearing masks, washing our hands, and enjoying life in a slightly different way.
Fair Lawn, NJ
Rabbi Chananya Weissman’s article was perfect and deeply appreciated. It reminded me, l’havdil, of the children’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Thank you for the courage to print it and the rabbi for his wisdom.
While we’re usually in opposite corners, this time I’m marching in lockstep with Rabbi Chananya Weissman. The frum community is way over the top with its pandemic “chumras.”
I came down with Covid between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Baruch Hashem, I was basically asymptomatic. About a month later, after testing negative for the virus, I returned to a certain shul and was told – publicly and unceremoniously – that I should get out.
Some time after, I went to a different shul and experienced a similar freeze-out, as one fellow said, “Leave or I’ll knock out all your teeth.” I’m not exaggerating.
Surely the Torah tells us to exercise caution and not make others ill, but it also demands, at the cost of losing one’s Olam Habah, that we not hurt other people’s feelings.
Dr. Yaakov Stern
Look at the Evidence
Kudos to Chananya Weissman for his article describing the corona craze that has conquered the minds and souls of so many.
Currently, in the vicinity of greater Lakewood (Lakewood, Jackson, and Toms River) and greater Deal (Deal, Long Branch, West Long Branch, Oakhurst, Eatontown, and Elberon) Jews don’t practice corona restrictions. And you know how many verified corona deaths we’ve had in the last month?
In other words, the science shows that the government’s restrictions do not improve the corona death rate.
Stop with the Moral Preening
Public health experts are trying to do the best job they can, but they can err. Despite this obvious fact, though, opinions that diverge from theirs are increasingly being scorned or labeled as misinformation.
This tendency is dangerous. Dr. Robert Johnson, writing about resistance to mandatory vaccinations in Muncie, Indiana in 1893, argues that anti-vaxxers merely wanted to weigh the risks and benefits for themselves and that scorning them only caused opposition to the mainstream view to rise.
The same is true today. Public scorn of dissenters has caused a growing number of people to resist Covid rules and lockdowns. They resent the authorities. According to the Transportation Security Administration, nine million people since December 18 have traveled despite public health warnings not to travel for the holidays.
If we want to defeat Covid-19 and other diseases, experts must do their jobs and stop being moral orators!
Donny Simcha Guttman
They Would Burn the Country Down
To the 70 percent of American Jews who voted for Harris-Biden, I say: Don’t worry about the November 3 election results being overturned. Every politician knows that if they were, Harris would unleash her Black Lives Matter and Antifa minions to raze this country to the ground.
No politician – or his family – who was involved in changing the election result would be safe. Their houses would be torched and their children threatened. Every storefront in the country would be shattered, every business looted, every statue toppled. It would make the summer of 2020 look like a picnic.
Ordinary citizens would cower in their homes – not because of Covid – but because of the fury of those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.
Harris and her socialist squad will take the reins on January 20 and the corrupt and compromised Biden will be there as their puppet.
New York, NY
The Conspiracy Theories Will Live On
As I write these words, Congress is preparing to certify Joseph Biden, a great American, as our next president.
Unfortunately, that probably won’t put to rest the conspiracy theories of stolen ballots, altered tabulations, tricked-out machines, dead people voting, etc. It’s the foundation for a great novel perhaps, but entirely out of touch with reality.
Simply asserting ludicrous charges does not mean they have substance. We live in a time when tiny errors become magnified, especially via social media. But we’re a smart, thinking people and shouldn’t fall prey to a trap of lies.
Congratulations, Mr. Biden, on your impressive victory. May G-d grant you a very successful presidency.
Far Rockaway, NY
The hypocrisy and cliché-ridden blather that emerges from the mouths of Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer is really too much. “A time for healing” and a time for all Americans to “come together” – in a normal universe, these words might sound patriotic and compelling, but after the horrific treatment of President Trump the last four years by these very same people, they ring a bit hollow.
What About Hashem?
I’m lucky to subscribe to The Jewish Press despite living south of the Mason-Dixon line. It keeps me in the loop! Even if it hits my mailbox a week later (we are a bissel slow here in the South), it’s still relevant.
In any event, I have a question: Have we forgotten about Hashem when it comes to this pandemic? We’re consulting doctors, scientists, and politicians, and so far we’ve come up with garnisht. Maybe it’s time we change course.
So, with that in mind, can anyone offer a reason for this ongoing global virus, keeping Hashem in mind? Thanks!
Wesley Hills, GA
Are We Living in Nazi Germany?
There is a bill on the floor of the New York State Assembly that, if passed, will give the state the authority to remove you from your home and society if you are deemed a public health threat. Are we going to sit around with our heads buried in the ground and watch history repeat itself?
Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg
You’re Learning From De Blasio
To the person who addressed a letter in last week’s issue of The Jewish Press to “all my chassidish friends”: I see that our amazing Mayor De Blasio has had an effect on you. He expresses his hatred by writing to “all my Jewish friends,” and you seem to follow suit.
As a chassidish person (and a huge Jewish Press fan) I found your language to be not very nice. Incidentally, the Jewish community does not have more Covid cases than the rest of society. Stop copying De Blasio and stop blaming Covid on us. Thank you.
Thank G-d for Cancer
I was so happy to read Rav Avigdor Miller’s response on the purpose of cancer in last week’s issue of The Jewish Press. Three years ago, I wrote an article for the Times of Israel about this sensitive topic because I had a very serious, advanced stage of cancer when I was 37-years-old (11 years ago) and, in hindsight, I consider it to have been the greatest blessing in my life (aside from my husband and kids).
As Rav Miller noted, cancer is a wake-up call for those who listen to it. It’s an opportunity for teshuvah, to make right what’s wrong and to improve one’s quality of life. My cancer enabled me to fix what was broken in my own life, resulting in a heightened appreciation for life and simchat hachayim (joie de vivre).
I did everything Rav Miller said to do – I turned to tefillah, teshuvah, and tzedakah – and Hashem allowed me to live. I can’t say why Hashem decided to do so when so many other, better people than me have died of this disease. All I know is that I cannot thank Him enough for letting me have extra time to continue improving myself and to spend precious time with my family and watch my children grow up.
I know that my time in this world is extremely limited – cancer taught me that. It’s a supreme gift from Hashem to understand this fact and to internalize our evanescence; it motivates me to do more in the time I’ve been given, to learn more, to help more people, to ease cancer patients’ stress, and to daven more.
If you would like to read the article I wrote, go to blogs.timesofisrael.com/cancer-the-greatest-blessing and feel free to share it. It could help others see that sometimes the most horrible, challenging experiences in life enable us to reach our G-d-given potential in a way that no other experience can.
Wishing Jewish Press readers only good health,
We Ignore G-d at Our Own Peril
Re Rabbi Fuchs’ column of November 13 (yes, I’m behind on my reading): I believe there is another message in Covid-19 that goes beyond the Jewish people and extends to all Americans and all of humanity.
At the risk of being labeled a religious fanatic, which I assuredly am not (my basic hashkafa is OU-YU-Mizrachi), I believe that unless we recognize that humans aren’t capable of governing ourselves on our own and unless we recognize Hashem as our Sovereign and obey His law above all man-made laws, we will enter a new Dark Ages in which all forms of vice aren’t just condoned but legalized, religion is driven underground, the Chinese Communist Party is the earthly arbiter, government officials are royalty, multinational corporations are nobility, and the rest of us are mere serfs.
The choice is ours.