Five Towns/Far Rockaway Rabbis Issue Definitive Minyan Ruling


(by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for
Enclosed is a letter from the Rabbis of the Five Towns/Far Rockaway community that is a result of a meeting that occurred this week. It should be noted that in another letter from Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, he writes regarding all Chutz La’Aretz communities that they MUST LISTEN to their local Rabbonim. Hopefully this will be posted soon! YH
To reach the author contact [email protected]

Rosh Chodesh I’yar 5780, 15 B’Omer / April 24, 2020

Lichvod the Wonderful Members of our Far Rockaway and Five Towns Community שיחיו,

We sincerely hope that this letter finds you all managing well under the current difficult circumstances, and we daven continuously that HaKB”H send all Acheinu B’nei Yisroel the refuos, nechamos, and yeshuos for which we all so truly yearn.

There has recently been much discussion regarding the loosening of social distancing restrictions. We would like to specifically address herein the numerous calls and requests that have been presented to all our community Rabbanim regarding outdoor Minyanim.

Many individuals have been asking Rabbanim to demonstrate leadership by issuing clear guidelines for the establishment of safe outdoor Minyanim. We all understand that Tefilla Bi’Tzibbur is a crucial imperative for Klal Yisroel, especially in a time of crisis, and that davening together could provide us the זכויות and the connection that we so desperately need. People are requesting that Rabbanim, in conjunction with medical professionals, create guidelines for safe and legal Minyanim in our neighborhoods, with all participants wearing masks at safe distances, perhaps on separate properties, with safeguards in place to ensure that there is no significant risk.

We, the undersigned Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshivos, after much thought and careful consideration, feel obligated to communicate- in unequivocal terms- our united decision to reinforce our previous mandate, and bid our community against the creation of any Minyanim, as well as to cease unauthorized Minyanim. This includes porches, front-/backyard, Minyanim– with no exceptions whatsoever. We will continue to reassess and reanalyze this decision on a regular and ongoing basis as new developments unfold.

Pikuach Nefesh is the greatest imperative in the Torah, and overrides almost any other Mitzva. Although on an individual level it may be possible to safeguard against risk, it is impossible to allow the establishment of Minyanim across a community without also accepting the unavoidable violations of safety guidelines and inadvertent health risks that will inevitably result (especially with hundreds davening three times a day, every day). כל המקיים נפש אחת מישראל…כאילו קיים עולם מלא– סנהדרין לז. Easing the prohibition would be, at the very minimum, a Sa’fek Pi’kuach Nefesh that could endanger participants, and could increase the likelihood of illness and loss of life in our community, chalila vi’chas. And this simply cannot be allowed. At this point in time, this overarching principle is docheh the imperatives of Tefilla B’tzibbur, Aveilim reciting Kaddish, and many other Halachos. We call upon each and every member of our community to adhere to the safeguards that are essential for the protection of us all. Let us do our absolute utmost in following the Torah’s mandate of ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם.

Our responsibility to be proactive and vigilant against any possibility of health risk and sakanah extends to far more than just Minyanim. It should be obvious that if we have taken this extraordinary step of temporarily being mi’vatel Tefilla B’Tzibbur in order to save lives, we most certainly must be extra cautious when shopping and engaging in any other activity outside the home. We strongly urge our community to not only adhere scrupulously to all laws and protocols regarding social distancing, but also to exhibit extra zehirus and care to stay within your homes, and to limit any outside social interactions- even while wearing masks- to only that which is extremely important, absolutely necessary, and truly unavoidable. This includes avoiding trips into restaurants and other situations of potential exposure that are not truly essential.

We know that current conditions have been extremely difficult. We truly commiserate and are in constant deliberation how best to make the matzav more bearable. Please take comfort in the fact that, B’Ezras Hashem, your admirable efforts and sacrifices have made a dramatic difference: you have saved, and will IY”H continue to save, countless lives.

Yi’yasher Ko’chachem for all your tremendous concern, patience, and understanding. !חזק חזק ונתחזק

We will get through this crisis together as a unified community, with abundant Siyata Dishmaya each and every day IY”H. Let us continue to give the Ribbono Shel Olam נחת רוח in carrying out Ratzon Hashem at this time, and merit to emerge from this crisis stronger and better than ever before.

With boundless love, profound care and concern, and sincere admiration for this incredible and special community,

57 Roshei Yeshivos and Rabbanim in the Five Towns/Far Rockaway/Bayswater Community- in alphabetical order:

R’ Shalom Axelrod

R’ Yaakov Bender

R’ Dovid Bender

R’ Hershel Billet

R’ Yisroel Meir Blumenkrantz

R’ Meyer Bodner

R’ Simcha Bondi

R’ Meir Braunstein

R’ Dov Bressler

R’ Moshe Brown

R’ Pinchas Chatzinoff

R’ Shaul Chill

R’ Ariel Edelstein

R’ Menachem Feifer

R’ Aaron Feigenbaum

R’ Eytan Feiner

R’ Yaakov Feitman

R’ Eliezer Feuer

R’ Tzvi Flaum

R’ Binyamin Forst

R’ Yitzchok Frankel

R’ Aryeh Zev Ginzberg* (per family as a zchus)

R’ Daniel Glatstein

R’ Dr. Aaron Glatt

R’ Nosson Greenberg

R’ Kenneth Hain

R’ Simcha Hopkovitz

R’ Yaakov Horowitz

R’ Naftali Jaeger

R’ Yudi Jeger

R’ Muttel Katz

R’ Moshe Zev Katzenstein

R’ Aryeh Lebowitz

R’ Simcha Lefkowitz

R’ Yoni Levin

R’ Avi Miller

R’ Motti Neuburger

R’ Uri Orlian

R’ Yechiel Yitzchok Perr

R’ Ephraim Polakoff

R’ Zvi Ralbag

R’ Isaac Rice

R’ Elysha Sandler

R’ Shay Schachter

R’ Yehuda Septimus

R’ Aaron Stein

R’ Asher Stern

R’ Mordechai Stern

R’ Moshe Teitelbaum

R’ Yaakov Trump

R’ Shmaryahu Weinberg

R’ Moshe Weinberger

R’ Pinchus Weinberger

R’ Akiva Willig

R’ Eliyahu Wolf

R’ Zalman Wolowik

R’ Mordechai Yaffe

As a P.S.

We must all do our absolute utmost– especially at this critical time, in the midst of a true “eis tzara“– to avoid any machlokes or strife in our community. One may certainly report an unauthorized Minyan to his Rav, but he should not engage in any negative behavior, malicious activity, threats, or machlokes of any kind. Let us work together to be marbeh Kevod Shamayimbi’shalom each and every day.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)