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I was raised secular. I went to Hebrew school in order to have a bar mitzvah party and pretty much took the money and ran. Torah was not a part of my life at all. I married a non-Jewish woman, had two daughters with her and lived a completely secular, basically goyish life until I was 41.

When I was 41, I left my wife and started a new life as a frum Jew, which I continue to this very day.


One consequence of leaving Torah in my rear view mirror at age 13 was that I have a very hard time learning Talmud. Since I never went to yeshiva for a single day in my life, I missed those formative years when I could have learned how to learn Gemara on my own, without the Artscroll, let alone Shulchan Aruch or Mishnah Berurah.

So, a question for you: Would you come to me for a p’sak halacha? Of course not, that would be the height of foolishness.

Now, I have been making a living as a database architect for about 25 years now or so. If you have a shayla on how to structure a database, yes, I would be more than happy to posken for you. Because in that sugya, I do know very well what I’m talking about and would give you a teshuva you could rely on.

I’ve heard that there are some who look to da’as Torah to determine whether or not they should get one of the Covid-19 vaccines.

My jaw dropped when I heard this. While I hold those with da’as Torah in the highest regard, to ask men who have never taken a biology course in their lives, who have spent as much time in medical school as I have in yeshiva, to posken medicine is misguided.

This is over and above the fact that the basic halacha is that we listen to doctors. While there are certainly dissenters out there who dispute the medical consensus, the fact is that the medical consensus is overwhelmingly pro-vaccine and those dissenters are the tiny minority.

If you don’t believe me, look at the list of medical professionals, men and women with medical training, who sign their names in an ad that has run in this very newspaper, staking their reputations on the fact that the vaccine is safe and effective. Are there any resha’im on that list that I’m not aware of, any false eidim on that list that I’m not aware of?

If there’s not (and I’m certain that there aren’t any), then you should ask yourself, if you are a vaccine refusenik, why are they doing that? Why are they signing their names to this ad? Why are they bothering?

And if you’re a refusenik, and you can’t answer those three questions in a manner that clearly defines them as resha’im, then maybe you should consider getting vaccinated.


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Steve Hirsch made the journey from intermarriage to discovering that he was the first boy named for R' Simcha Schustal's father. He can be reached at