Double-Masking:  A Short Halachic Analysis of the Repercussions

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By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

Recently, the CDC made an announcement regarding masking.  It discovered that, in regard to mannequins, two masks are better than one.  Based on these studies – the CDC has recommended that people double mask.

There is no question that masking is important and that it does offer some level of containment of the spread of COVID-19.  However, there is a repercussion of the masking requirements that we must all be careful to avoid.

Before we get to that repercussion, however, let us briefly review three kashrus terms:

  1. Treif – generally speaking, this refers to an animal that has one of the 18 injuries or malformities that will cause it to die within 12 months unless some medical intervention takes place.  It is a lav in the Torah.
  2. Neveilah – this refers to an animal that is killed without the use of a halachically valid shechita. It is a lav in the Torah.
  3. Timtum HaLaiv – loosely translated as a dumbing down of the heart.

Let’s now get to one of the unfortunate repercussions of the masking laws.  Make no mistake.  Masks should be worn and are important.  However, we should make every effort possible to avoid the repercussion.

We tend to hate people that don’t wear masks.  And that feeling, is a violation of Torah law.  In fact, the Chofetz Chaim writes in his Ahavas Chessed chapter four that violating the Torah prohibition of Lo sisneh es achicha bilvavecha is a lav, no different than eating treif or eating neveilah.

The Chofetz Chaim further writes that violating this Torah prohibition also causes timtum HaLaiv.

Let’s now review the past twelve months.  Have we possibly fallen into this trap – of allowing a disaffection toward others to simmer within us?  Does it also not cause a secondary repercussion too?  Is it possible that it suppresses our ability to perform the Mitzvah of v’ahavta larayacha kamocha?

No one can be sure where the new Double Masking talk will lead us.  Some have even suggested that it will cause the non-maskers to poke fun at the maskers and will cause a hate-reaction the other way.

Others have suggested that we should instead focus on incentivizing those who deal in food preparation to stay home from work when they are feeling sick.  Sick leave is something that food handlers do not get enough of.  Perhaps, we should revisit our policies regarding this issue first – before we start talking about double-masking.

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