A Response to the Responder of the 5 Towns Rabbis


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This is in response to the person who is taking on the chevas daas of the 57 Rabbis in the Five Towns/Far Rockaway community Rabbis who have banned even the safe minyanim.  Their reasoning is that people will copy the safe outdoor minyanim but will not adhere to the safety standards and it will cause the deaths of even more people and lead to even more chillul Hashem. By the way, it is not just the 5T/FR Rabbis. It is Passaic, Rav Meir Stern. It is Chicago, Rav Shmuel Fuerst. It is Rav Asher Weiss. It is Rav Yitzchok Berkowitz and so many others.

Also, virtually every frum doctor in America thinks it will lead to more deaths.

The concept of Tekias Shofar on Shabbos can be instructive too. When Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbos – we should blow shofar by Torah law. But Chazal thought to forbid it. Why?  Because someone, somewhere would ignore the rules. And so to avoid that one violation of hotzaah – Chazal removed all of the Tekiyos on Shabbos.

But what will cause the satan not to be heard?  It will be the emunas chachomim of listening to the concern of the Rabbis. Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Gershon Edelstein just sent out a letter that we should listen to our local Rabbanim.

To bring the point home.  I have taken the liberty of restating your letter with the minyanim and applying it to tekiash shofar.  Only in this case, it is worse because regarding minyanim – there are lives at stake.  It is the lives of Rabbonim.  The lives of the weak.  The bubbies and the Zeidies.  I appeal to you – if you don’t listen to the doctors.  If you don’t listen to the 57 Rabbis.  At least don’t let our children lose their Bubbies and Zeidies. Please, reconsider…

Dear Rabbis,

The letter banning Tekiyas Shofar when Rosh hashana falls on Shabbos under any circumstance is draconian and too encompassing. It is also inconsistent with the lack of decrees against similar or worse situations.

I’ll mention one: There is no denying that in this community there are hundreds, if not thousands of people, that are being mechalel Shabbos. It is overwhelmingly probable that people are in violation of borer all the time . Did I see a letter about banning all nuts because of the possibility of borer? Nope. In fact, a close friend of mine recently told me that when he asked his Rav about this the Rav replied “I’ll have to look into it. I’m not sure there is anything to do about that.” Really? You seemed to be able to do something about banning shofar blasts! Instead of making blanked statements, why don’t we create solutions?

After I missed shofar blowing this last Shabbos Rosh hashana, I looked outside my window to see plenty of people on my block eating nuts with the neighbors and shmuessing. I mused to myself that the Ribono Shel Olam was probably very sad when he saw that people weren’t blowing shofar on Rosh Hashana, yet they can Shmuz outside! Pikuach Nefesh does in fact override every Mitzvah in the Torah, but many Rabbanim outside of this community feel that if the minyanim are properly socially distanced, it is not deemed Pikuach Nefesh. Do the Rabbanim of this community not trust the people? You seem to trust them when it comes to going to restaurants and supermarkets. You trust them in every other facet of life. And you should. Why can the people not be trusted now?

Every block will have one appointed member to be in charge, there will be no exceptions, any person who does not adhere to STRICT not carrying the shofar for practice, will not be allowed to blow shofar. There will be 3 set shofar blowings per day, no more. We can have police patrolling to make sure that everyone is adhering. (B”H this community is very well-connected governmentally). In fact, in Lakewood, the police do patrol the neighborhood to watch over the Minyanim. It can be done. We can do it. And while the Ratzon Hashem is to be very Makpid on Shmiras HaNefesh, we can be very careful while still blowing shofar on Shabbos. I wonder if the Ratzon Hashem is to have no shofar on Shabbos period.

The people of this community are clamoring to hear shofar on Shabbos once again. We are clamoring, waiting, and longing to get back. We will do anything… Please trust us! Let us work together to make this happen safely, efficiently, sanitarily, and most importantly in a way that is Mekadesh Shem Shomayim.

May we be zochech to see the end of this magefah with the coming of Moshiach B’mehaira B’yamainu Amen.

Please.  This is a particular dangerous idea which could kill many more people.  Please, listen to the doctors.  Listen to the 57 Rabbis of this community.  Listen to reason.


Jay Nathanson

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.


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