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The Mishna Berurah Says We Have To Wear A Mask? Yes, Acc. To HaRav Chaim Kanievsky

In a shiur by the maggid shiur Harav Shlomo Levenstein, he explained in the name of Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky that there is currently an halachic obligation to wear a mask when leaving the house, Kikar H’Shabbos reported.

“I saw a sign at the entrance to shul that according to the instructions of the health ministry, everyone is obligated to wear a mask in shul,” Harav Levinstein said. “I want to draw your attention to a story.”

Rav Levenstein continued: “Someone mentioned to HaRav Chaim Kanievsky that he was wearing a mask due to the health ministry’s instructions and HaRav Chaim responded: ‘Why are you saying the government? Say the Mishna Berurah [obligates us].'”

“‘Which Mishna Berurah?’ the man responded. HaRav Chaim opened a Mishnah Berurah to Siman תקנ”ד, where it’s written that if there’s a difficult situation in a country, there’s a shaila whether to fast on Tisha B’Av or not.

“‘In the Biur Halacha, it’s written: ‘If someone wants to fast when the disease isn’t raging [the immediate danger has passed but the disease is still lurking], he should be advised and warned that he shouldn’t leave his house at all. When he does go out he should be forced to put something over his nose and mouth and a little grass [he calls the grass miata].'”

Harav Levinstein continued: “So Harav Chaim told him: ‘So why are you saying the government [obligates you]? Say the Mishnah Berurah. At a time when there’s a mageifah even when it’s not in full force, you must wear a mask.'”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

30 Responses

  1. The rotzchim will disagree with the Rov with one or more of the following.

    1) The Rov was misquoted
    2) The Rov was given incorrect information upon which he based his psak
    3) The Rov’s Psak only applies to where the Rov lives and not everywhere else
    4) The Rov is elderly is therefore may no longer be considered authoritative on this subject.

  2. I just looked it up it’s all about halachas of tisha b’av nowhere does it mention about a mask. Someone show me where it says about wearing a mask

  3. You do realize that the discussion refers to a famous tsuvah about a cholera epidemic. The halachic opinions were based on totally wrong medical opinions. They thought the disease was spread by breathing bad air (they didn’t know about germs), but it turns out the cholera was spread by eating or drinking food that had been polluted with bad water (common, since wells and rivers were contaminated). Not the first time the public health experts turned out to be wrong.Remember when they were predicting that almost everyone would become deathly ill from Covid19, and 5% of the population would die – and now it turns out that antibody testing shows that 90% of the population doesn’t get seriously ill from the disease, and the death rate is only slightly worse than what a bad flu season would be without vaccines – and the lockdowns weren’t necessary.

  4. A response to akuperma. What happens if you’re right at Harav Shlomo Levenstein is wrong and you wear a mask? A bit of inconvenience. What happens if he’s right and you’re wrong and you DON’T wear a mask? You may kill someone. What does Halacha say with those benefits compared to the drawbacks?

  5. Can someone show me where in תקנ״ד this is discussed?

    The source does not point to the question at hand which now brings into question the authenticity of the claim.

    עשה לך רב והסתלק מן הספק

    אורח חיים תקנ״ד

    דברים האסורים עט”ב ובו כ”ה סעיפים:
    תשעה באב אסור ברחיצה וסיכה ונעילת הסנדל ותשמיש המיטה ואסור לקרות בתורה נביאים וכתובים ולשנות במשנה ובמדרש ובגמ’ בהלכות ובאגדות משום שנאמר פקודי ה’ ישרים משמחי לב ותינוקות של בית רבן בטלים בו אבל קורא הוא באיוב ובדברים הרעים שבירמיה ואם יש ביניהם פסוקי נחמה צריך לדלגם:

  6. @TheObserver @matook if you look at the biur Halacha in Siman תקנ״ד , sif ו׳, D”H דבמקום חולי , it says it straight out
    דבמקום חולי וכו’ – עיין בספר פתחי עולם דבמקום שאין המחלה של חלערי”א חזקה ח”ו יאכל פחות מככותבת בכדי אכילת פרס וכן בשתיה כמ”ש השיעורי’ בשו”ע סימן תרי”ח (כך יש להורות לשואל בט”ב שבזה לא נעקר התענית לגמרי ורחמנא ליבא בעי) ומי שירצה להתענות במקום שאין המחלה בזעם ח”ו יש ליועצו ולהזהירו שלא ילך מפתח ביתו כל היום ולהכריחו כשיצא ישא סביב לחוטמו ופיו חתיכה קאמפע”ר ומעט עשב מיאט”ע עכ”ל

  7. Source: תקנד ו׳..see ביאור הלכה ד״ה במקום חולי…
    The Chofetz Chaim specifically mentions the requirement to wear masks when there is מגפה.

  8. 5TR, you have no right whatsoever to call anyone who doesn’t wear a mask a rotzeach. If you want to wear one, gezunterheit. If you want to advise others to wear one, that is your privilege. But they have every right to ignore you and you have no right to call them any names, let alone rotzchim, for which you have no basis whatsoever.

    Matook and Observer, the reason you see nothing about a mask is because it’s not there. This whole article is made up. The reference is to the Biur Halocho on se’if 6, which doesn’t say anything like that. What it says is that during a cholera epidemic, if one is fasting and therefore weak, and one insists on going out, then one should hang a bit of camphor and mint around ones mouth and nose, so the smell will protect one from the disease.

    This is obviously NOT a halocho at all, it’s merely what the author (mistakenly) thought was good advice, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with masks. Of course as we all know cholera is not transmitted through the air, and no strong smell will protect you from it. All the medical advice of the time was wrong. But leaving that aside there is no reference whatsoever to masks. Whoever made this up (which I do NOT believe was R Chaim) simply invented that out of “whole cloth” and is talking through his “mask”.

    Nor does it have to do with what the so-called “experts” are telling us now, to wear a mask not for our own protection but because of some sort of protection it supposedly gives others. So if you believe the “experts” then by all means wear a mask, but you are doing so because of the “experts”, NOT because of the Mishne Brura. Anyone who claims that he is wearing a mask because the Mishne Brura is an am ho’oretz.

  9. So all of you are right and the Rav, one of the gedolim of our generation, is wrong and you are right?

    Told you the rotzchim were going to disagree. Didn’t take long either.

  10. R chaim is talking about Eretz Yisroel where Covid has made a resurgence. In New York the cases have dwindled to almost zero. In many frum communities yeshivos and shul have slowly opened up since Lag b’eomer. That’s 5 weeks without any new cases B”H. I don’t know of a single shul in Boro Park or Williamsburg that is still closed.

  11. Again, I ask. What happens if we wear masks and it turns out to be useless? We wore masks and we were uncomfortable. What happens if we DON’T wear masks and it turns out to be a life saver (even one life)? We, then, have killed people. You do the ethical and moral calculation here. Frum people should be embracing the concept of wearing masks and doing so with pride since it MIGHT save a life. Is there anything more noble (or frum) than that? If there is (other than the three cardinal sins), then you’re not practicing Judaism. You’re adhering to another religion.

  12. @Milhouse: you are 100% right. Israelis don’t understand the foreign words brought in Biur Halocho and come to false conclusions. That’s why a minimum of general knowledge would have been beneficial…

  13. Mr millhouse ur a disgrace that u dont follow daas torah and u learn torah to put in your false ideas . shmeilu and 5tResident are right. And yes not wearing a mask is considerd a killer rav chaim kanievsky said that earlier and so did rabbo olbaum a big posek in queens

  14. @Milhouse, לע׳׳ד, in terms of of being an am ha’aretz , you have to learn how to read the words properly and understand the Halacha , which you seem to not to. It says ולהכריחו” כשיצא ישא” which means its מוכרח that this is what you should do , not some stam advice. Second, where on earth does it say , “so the smell will protect one from the disease ” ? You just made that up. Third, this MUCHRACH Hor’ah is obviously describing a “covering” in which to protect yourself. Fourth, let me ask you, lets say the” Author” whose the Chofetz Chaim btw, was mistaken based on the doctors at the times advice, so nowadays, where the general doctor consensus whether right or wrong is to where a mask , so then it’s pashut al pi this Ho’rah from the Mishnah Brurah that you would need todays version of a mask , as Hagoan Rav Chaim Kaniefsky Shlita is saying. So before you call others an am har’etz you need to learn how to learn first , and read thoroughly.

  15. ah yid, the Mishneh Brura is neither about Eretz Yisroel nor the USA. It’s simply giving mistaken advice reflecting medical opinion of the time. And it has nothing to do with masks. Anyone who claims it does is a liar.

  16. Shmulie g is correct those who dont follow the rules of masks and have killed many in brooklyn monsey and lakewood and for some reason still refuse to wear them as they watch israel have a second wave. People mamesh dont think at all.

  17. The ביאור הלכה is quoting sefer פתחי עולם who is talking about choleria. That was a much more dangerous pandemic. In 1865 there was an outbreak of choleria in Yerushalayim, and in 4 months, over 1000 yidden were niftar (out of a population of only 11,000 yidden).
    Reb Yisroel Salanter made the whole town eat on yom kippur when they had choleria, because it was so dangerous to fast. (Reb Moshe brings this in או”ח סי’ צ”א, he says that choleria was much easier to be caught by someone who was hungry).
    The פתחי עולם is talking about someone who wants to fast during CHOLERIA, that he must be extra careful, and should be advised not to leave his house, and if he does, then he should wear a mouth and nose covering.

  18. @brooklynboy1 very true, just we what we have to think about, is , does that logic apply here. Why does a covering help ? The case of the פתחי עולם, that the ביאור הלכה is bringing, yes , is where someone is fasting. But fasting makes a person vulnerable, as ( seemingly from this ) is not wearing a covering over your nose and mouth. So its very מסתבר that Hagoan Rav Chaim Kaniefsky Shlit”a would parallel this הוראה to our current situation, in terms of avoiding making ourselves vulnerable in a possible lurking danger

  19. to clarify, not personally ח׳׳ו weighing in , to if that applies to lets say America, but it can and might, and its something to seriously be aware of, especially because of the unclarity of this disease and so forth.

  20. Once again, anyone who claims this MB mentions a mask, or “a mouth and nose covering”, is a LIAR. Shmeilu is a liar. The words are right there. He says NOT ONE WORD about a mask, or ANY kind of covering. He says to carry around his nose and mouth A PIECE OF CAMPHOR AND SOME MINT LEAVES. Neither of these is any sort of covering. Their ONLY FUNCTION is to create a strong smell, which was mistakenly thought to protect the person against cholera.

  21. @Milhouse you gotta stop shtupping your own biased goyish pshatim into the blur Halacha and please STOP MAKING UP SVARAS. It doesnt SAY ANYWHERE that – “Their ONLY FUNCTION is to create a strong smell” where are you getting this from ???? Stop spewing your scientific made up theories and learn how to read.

  22. The source of the Mishna Berura is Pischei Olam in the name of the Tzemach Tzedek of Lubavitch (see Divrei Nechemia 41).
    He was referring to a cholera plague in 1848.
    In the book “An actually practised and effectually successful mode of treatment of the Cholera” published by Dr J Ewertz in July 1831, he advises (page 4) the use of “spirits of camphor and curled leave mint” as an effective cure . He claims this has a 90% success rate (page 7),
    Perhaps some type of mask was needed to carry the camphor and mint, but the Tzemach Tzedek is certainly not discussing a mask, or he would have written ילבש.


    In his preface, Dr. Rubini says, that he wishes to “impress on the mind of everyone the assurance that cholera is readily curable by one single remedy, provided it is administered in the earliest stage of the invasion of the disease. This most simple remedy is **** the saturated alcoholic spirits of camphor. If a man will only provide himself with this remedy, and carry it about with him when he leaves his house, he may thus quietly and securely go about his affairs and fear nothing, **** The rapid cure, in a few hours, wrought by me in 377 cases, without a single death, has firmly convinced me that Camphor is the specific against cholera, and that it will, with certainty, cure the disease. This experience gives me the right to affirm that this malady is little to be feared.”

  24. Shmeilu, you are outright lying. There is no mention of any kind of covering.

    That creating a strong smell is the only possibly function of camphor and mint is obvious. There is nothing else they could possibly do.

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