19 Adar 5780
(Translated by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5TJT.com)
In a time when we are in grave need of great heavenly mercy to maintain the health of our nation, certainly it is proper to strengthen ourselves in the study of Torah, to be careful in Lashon HaRah and Rechilus, and to strengthen ourselves in humility and to judge everyone favorably.
Our sages have already stated (Yuma 28b), “Since the days of our forefathers, the Yeshivos have never ceased [to be active] from them. They further stated (Shabbos 119b): The world only exists on account of the sounds of children in the house of their Rebbe [yeshivos]. They are the greatest insurance possible that the destroyer not enter into the homes of Israel.
Nonetheless, danger is certainly a more stringent concern than the possible violation of a prohibition. It is [therefore] upon all of us to make great effort in all matters that require caution – such as:
- splitting up the students
- Ensuring that there is adequate space between person [social distancing – recommended at 2 meters]
- Also to make sure that the classrooms and Batei Midrashim be properly ventilated
- and to appoint supervisors [Mashgichim] to maintain the proper level of cleanliness as a health necessity.
- Anyone that has even a shadow of a doubt that he or a family member may be ill, and even if he is only mandated to undergo quarantine because of a directive [and not out of a health concern], must refrain from entering the Bais Medrash. He must not be a source of risk or damage to another.
This is all from the perspective of an understood precondition to the action [of attending school or Yeshiva]. The Roshei Yeshiva and the administrators of the Talmud Torahs (and Yeshivos) must be on guard to ensure compliance.
Certainly, it is our obligation to awaken ourselves to the Fear of Heaven and to do Teshuvah, in accordance with the saying [of the sages] (Yevamos 63a), “Calamities only come to this world in order that [Klal] Yisroel strengthen themselves in the belief of the futility of “the strength and power of my hand” of all the nations during these times. Rather, we must have faith in the Holy One Blessed Be He who watches over all His creations, and no man is stricken by a calamity if it was not decreed from Above. And may the merit of Torah and all that strengthen us stand for us as protection and salvation.
[Rav] Chaim Kanievsky
[Rav] Y(erachmiel) Gershon Edelstein
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