Chicago Chesed Fund

Friday, October 16, 2020

אכין ורקין מיעוטין- רק עם חכם ונבון



Yes, I know that all vaccines have a risk of serious side effects. This has been recognized by every immunologist and court in the world. That risk is smaller than that of getting food poisoning from gefilte fish and anisakis from sushi - and the greatest risk of salmonella, bean sprouts and fresh greens, according to Consumer Reports. I don't recall any anti-vaxxers putting out kol koreis about gefilte fish or sushi or lettuce.

(This just in from Indonesia, the Archipelago of The Backward:

Controversy over whether vaccines adhere to Islamic principles has stymied public health responses before in Indonesia, including in 2018, when the Indonesian Ulema Council issued a fatwa declaring a measles vaccine was haram, or forbidden under Islam.)


My nine year old grandson wanted to go a local yeshiva for night hakafos. He came back confused and somewhat upset. He said that all the bachurim there, (not an exxageration- he said that only three didn't, so he was paying attention,) were smoking heavily and drinking.  This is what is considered a normal yeshiva. 

We all know that smoking persisted in the right wing yeshiva world long after it became an embarrassment among educated people. I think that now it is finally getting rare, but evidently, there are holdouts.

Why? Why did the yeshiva world keep smoking when it was mostly just them and socially and economically disadvantaged communities such as blacks and rednecks? Were they suicidal? Were they less able to control childish impulses? Was it because they couldn't pursue other vices, as do normal teenagers, so all that was left was tobacco? Was it because we live with so many food and behavior restrictions that we refuse to accept additional ones that are not religious mandates?

The Environment

I suspect that the per capita use of disposable tableware is far higher amidst the Yeshivisheh community than in other ethnic groups. I think that in general, the concept of environmental responsibility is not high on the agenda in our circles. That despite the rising alarm that plastic is befouling the environment and should only be used when there is no good alternative. 


By now, only ostriches and moles remain convinced that Covid has not struck the Yeshiva community harder and faster than other communities.  This cohort has been joined by the conspiracy group.

Measles. Smoking. The environment. Covid. What is the common denominator? Why? What happened to the עם חכם ונבון?  Why do the yeshivishe communities and the Chassidishe communities openly, even militantly, disdain prudent, protective behavior.

A friend said that it is because we are told that our kedusha and diet and our way of life results in our being physically different from those that do not follow our ways. We are so different, that evidence from autopsies from others and statistical population studies done on others simply do not pertain to us. 

Someone else suggested that, as I mentioned above, we live with so many food and behavior restrictions that we refuse to accept additional ones that are not religious mandates. No treifus, no running after women, no cellphones on Shabbos and Yomtov, and now you say we can't smoke or eat kishke and deli by three kiddushes every Shabbos either??

I say the pshat is that bishlema elevators and airplanes, you see that they work. But scientific theories that are based on statistics and analysis, and lacking tactile proof evident to the layman, those have no ne'emonus. Why? Because if we trusted them, then we would have a contradiction to our belief in the mabul and the age of the universe and evolution from non-living matter. 

Our faith leads us to believe that scientists misinterpret evidence because they are kofrim and/or idiots. Because it is a matter of faith that scientists are kofrim and idiots, we can not, we must not, believe in the lies propounded by those same scientists, we can not believe their ideas when it comes to health matters. 

Denying scientific analysis and theories is, therefore, an ikkar of faith. More than that. It is foundational, it is a yesod of emunah. It is more basic than the yud gimmel ikrim. 

So smoking is ok, vaccines are dangerous, and Covid is a hoax.

And what is the consequence? As Shlomo Rechnitz said, 

I was originally hesitant to write this letter however I decided that I can’t watch what’s currently taking place in religious neighborhoods and remain silent. If for no other reason at all, I’ll be able to say ”Yadai loi shufach es hadam hazeh”.

The Coronavirus is child’s play when compared to the potential devastation that is silently growing and metastasizing by the day. This new catastrophe cannot be cured by Remdesivir or any other legend drug. Furthermore the antidote would not be social distancing as from what I understand from 70+ years ago, there was no social distancing or masks in the gas chambers! It is irrelevant that President Trump moved the American embassy to Jerusalem and helped Jews in other ways, we Yidden are putting ourselves in a bigger Makom Sakana every day. I doubt that there is even one Goy who saw or read about our current vile behavior and did not instantly forge an innate hatred for the Jews. They’re not evil, it’s called natural. Just remind yourself about some of your inner thoughts while watching the fatalities during the BLM “peaceful protests”. The Goyim don’t necessarily have to care how many Jewish mortalities there will be in a specific shul, they are rightfully viewing this as a case where the Jews are being selfish, uncaring and above the law, which is causing an uptick in cases which will ultimately reach their own neighborhoods. “The Jews simply don’t care that we’re being killed”.

This is and will remain direct causation of unadulterated anti-Semitism. To stir up anti-Semitism takes a lot less than this. We’re breaking records now. This behavior has never occurred by Jews in America. We always knew our place. Pre World War 2, a lot of people could have escaped but never imagined in their wildest dreams what awaited them. Today, due to numerous reasons the world is on edge. People lost their jobs, people can’t pay for rent or food, people got or are scared of getting the coronavirus or perhaps they lost a loved one. People are extremely upset about inequalities across the spectrum. More people are taking phsychotropic drugs today than ever before. The world situation is fluid from day to day and one little spark can C’V cause the unimaginable. It also doesnt help that the Democratic Party as we knew it, no longer exists, as it’s been taken over by politicians who are trying to outdo each other in how “progressive” they can be. The root cause of our problem, the reason we feel so infallible is undoubtedly that we forgot WE ARE IN GOLUS!  This is not our Country. We are merely guests in America, where after more than a thousand years, we finally have the zechus to live in a Country without tight Jewish ghettos.

Unfortunately, Ltza’arenu harav, we have living amongst us a Behaima she’anenu tehora who is creating anarchy and chaos, which is being streamlined by the national media outlets. It shows indisputable proof that this self appointed, power hungry, inciter and demagogue Heshy Tischler who falsely claims that he represents us, is organizing demonstrations where we are to scream personal obscenities at the governmental authorities. “Dirty animals, Nazi’s, and Kapo’s” are just a few examples of this clowns overall limited vernacular. If this seems like I’m taking this personally, it’s because I am. He’s putting my family and your families at risk, and he knows it. But that’s not reason enough for him to surrender his candidacy in a race where his support won’t even hit double digits. What changed our mindset so suddenly? How did we collectively all forget that we’re being closely watched? Who is prepared to give a Din V’cheshbon on this colossal CHILLUL HASHEM? Did we learn this new behavior from the BLM movement? Is that who guides us today? Who are we, to decide which form of congregating is safe and which is not. The Medrash says: If you’re told that there’s Torah by the goyim, don’t believe it. But if you’re told there is wisdom by the Goyim, you can believe it.  We are in the midst of a never before seen coronavirus and naturally everyone is going to look to point fingers and place blame at the people who caused this. Half the Country thought it was President Trump. The other half believed it was the fault of China. This was finally the first calamity in history where the Jews were not being blamed. But not to worry. Some of our own people fixed that real quick. I am not an alarmist, but dare I say the immediate and long term consequences that are floating in my mind.

But technically this is all somewhat irrelevant. Because if with some magical wand we could theoretically prove to ourselves that our children and communities would be safe in schools, then the reality differs from the perception, and the latter rules.

Even if we are 100% right and are acting with logical reasoning, or we believe we can manage to not be seen without a mask, or we are convinced we’re being persecuted and singled out, or we realize that our children are not getting the best chinuch possible, unfortunately right and wrong are not at play here. We still cannot make up our own laws, and we are obligated per all the Rabbonim that I’ve heard opine to date, to follow the guidance of the health specialists. I have great faith in our Rabbonim that they will figure out an eitzah regarding the chinuch issues, and we’ll know it’s being done with Daas Torah. We must never forget that we are a nation of D’racheha darkei noam.

Yes, we live in a Democracy. And yes, we have a right to free speech, but Tischler’s hateful rants are not considered “speech”. We can always agree to disagree and there are judicial and political mediums that we can exhaust. We all have an obligation to be mishtatef in finding a resolution, but calling the Mayors wife a despicable name is dead wrong, defamatory and probably dangerous. This is not who we are. This is the antithesis of who we are! “A shining light (and sirens) unto the nations”. I personally watched  a video of Dr. Mitchell Katz (whom I’ve personally met several times) attempting to speak and help our communities in a much needed way only to be met with overdramatized false personal attacks on his charachter, to the point that he had to cancel the press briefing for fear of his physical safety. Forget the fact that he is revered and pursued throughout the Country and has established a reputation as being an apolitical figure who only takes into consideration what is best for the population’s health and well being, reasoning which should be beyond sufficient, but how are we so oblivious to the fact that these are the same people who make the regulations regarding Metzitzah, Shechita, foreign esrogim, the definition of death and when can they pull the plug, school curriculum, school funding, vaccinations and the list goes on and on?

But let me be clear. Heshy Tischler is not just a Zealot. HE IS A RODEF, yet it is us who will suffer the collateral damage! There is no Mesirah on a Rodef.

There is the view among many leaders that we should not bring up Heshy Tischler’s name because it will just give him the fame and publicity he seeks. This thought process is completely skewed. It would be useful in a scenario where someone is slowly building a following for the wrong reasons. You don’t give him the time of day, but here we are dealing with a completely different situation. Tischler is not under the radar. He and his vicious acts are known, recorded and in their face.


In my humble opinion,

Our representative organizations need to immediately relay to the City and State Government that we are completely unaffiliated with him. He in no way represents us. To the contrary, we make a point of not accepting him into our circles.
The only thing we have in common with him is that he wears a Yarmulke. Wearing a Yarmulke makes you religious just as standing in a garage makes you a car.
Every organization needs to put out a letter strongly recommending that they don’t vote for him in any election, seeking any position.
Representatives need to get interviewed by all mediums of media and be very clear that this prior felon is an impostor and may just have minimal support from other people who don’t have day jobs.
As most of his “followers” are children, we need to speak to their parents or Grand Rabbis to prohibit them from getting near him, or any of his events.
We need to announce and make clear that anyone who supports him is considered a co-conspirator (Co-Rodef) and will be shunned by all of our communities. Note: if you’re bored and want to check out his event, I recommend watching 20 minutes of a Holocaust documentary and then decide.
He should not be touched, hurt or threatened. He should just be ignored.
People make mistakes. All these restrictions can be lifted if he commits to put an end to any and all events, meetings, conversations, correspondences, that are in any way related to the coronavirus or any anti-government actions AND he sends a personal apology to any victims of his misplaced wrath.
While there might be a little extra work initially, in a relatively short period, we won’t have to act, react or defend ourselves to other people. They will then just view him as a very vocal vagrant with a few other friends who are just looking for attention.

Chasin kadosh b’rov tuv’cha nahel adasecha.

Shlomo Yehuda


  1. You are lumping together apples and oranges, which is an easy way to dismiss arguments.
    I dont think Covid is a hoax. I also dont think masks provide much protection not because I dont believe in science, but to the contrary, because I believe 14 randomly controlled studies support that conclusion ( Scientific studies show that the majority of people who get Covid were careful to wear masks ( And studies show there is no correlation between mandates that force people to wear masks and upticks or downticks of the disease. And thousands of scientists now are openly saying that lockdowns cause more harm than good.
    The mask has become the equivalent of a red bendle, and a nice way to scapegoat people. But science? Not really.
    Social distancing helps because you cant catch a cold when you are not around people who have it.
    You also fail to take into consideration the politicization of science. Doctors and scientists who disagree with the mainstream have been silenced. It took months for something like the great barrington declaration to finally come out, but there were lots of voices echoing the same sentiments along the way. Are those who support it anti-science too?

    1. Fine. I understand. Rational people can disagree. But the maniacs in Brooklyn are not approaching the issue with logic. And I have a tzad hashaveh.

    2. Which is not because they are anti-science, but more likely because they recognize they are under the heavy thumb of a crass, socialist, dictatorial mayor who is incompetent.

  2. Also, in the case of Covid, you ignore the effect of hypocrisy. Would you believe a scientist who told you not to smoke if you saw him out of the street with his fellow scientists all lighting up? If he defended the right of some people to smoke, but demanded that you quit?

    I dont want to hear about shutting down shuls when Jews were marching in BLM rallies for George FLoyd at a time that the death toll was higher and the virus more widespread. Dont talk about shutting shuls when I (as I did last week) go to the local kosher store and find more people there in close proximity than at the minyan I was at on Y"K.

    Last point: public policy should be shaped by the facts, but is not itself a black and white issue, certainly not in this case.

  3. I see you added Rechnitz's op-ed to the post. What does disagreeing with Heshly Tischlet's antics have to do with whether or not to wear a mask or whether it is right or wrong to impose a lockdown aimed specifically at Orthodox neighborhoods? Apples and oranges again.

    May I suggest you at least take a look at:

  4. Wow! Thanks for that link! He is a fascinating man, Liel. Not least because his father was the famous Motorcycle bank robber in Israel, but also because of his totally out of left field path towards kashrus and tefilla. In an environment that really did not make it comfortable. I occasionally listen to him on his podcast, Unorthodox. I used to also follow them on Facebook, but I got tired of the crazy liberals, the "How do I convert to Judaism if I don't believe in God?" "No problem, my friend, most Jews don't believe in God anyway." and the endless yammering about Jewish Food.

    1. ad hominem comments, but do you have anything to say about the content?
      anything to say about the content of the lawsuit being brought against cuomo?
      What in the complaint do you think is false?

    2. I just don't know. It seems to me that why doesn't matter. If there's a spike in that community, you lock it down mercilessly. That's what they did in Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh. Maybe the science is wrong. But I absolutely do not believe that the people making the rules are doing it because they hate Jews or Ortho Judaism. I would be comfortable arguing that it was justified by emergency. And whether they do the same to others does not matter to me. What matters is stopping the deaths, like the ones in the news today, Aryeh Schorr, Nachman Rubin, Respler, all the best of our people who could have had another forty years of life.

    3. So we will have to agree to disagree.
      I find convincing enough and supported by enough science. For those who don't, but all means, stay home and locked down and come out whenever.

  5. But I was happy to see that line, because I felt the same. "I doubt that there is even one Goy who saw or read about our current vile behavior and did not instantly forge an innate hatred for the Jews. " With all my "At least we're protesting because we want to pray to God in our houses of worship, not because we want to get drunk in a bar or go to a movie" teirutzim, the fact is that the observer is not going to use their brains at all. As I said, measles and covid and untended houses with Paskez trash strewn on the lawn, you can't blame people for looking at Jews as reservoirs of disease.

    1. Maaseh she'haya: On chol ha'moed I went to bayard cutting arboretum with my wife. It is a state park out in the middle of nowhere and a nice place to escape. It is far from any Jewish community and in the many times we have been there I have yet to see anyone else wearing a yalmukah.

      We were sitting on a bench (not wearing masks) and Joe goy comes jogging by us and yells at us "How about Cuomo. He's like Hitler, he won't let you pray in your synagogues."

      Yes, it was one person. You can say it is the yotzei min haklal. Or you can say that outside the bubble of pundits and those who live on the upper east/west side of NY, the average Joe out there gets it.

    2. That's an interesting story.
      I never heard of that arboretum. It looks beautiful, but it's two hours from Staten Island and two hours from Flatbush or Monsey. Other than the chizuk from the jogger, was it worth it?

    3. It is absolutely worth it, esp in late Sept when the beautiful dahlia garden is in full bloom and (I know I should leave this out) they have the most elaborate scarecrows you can imagine setup through the gardens. It is next to impossible to find a good tranquil spot anywhere in the city to recharge that compares (yes, including the NY Botanic Garden).
      I am a little biased because I prefer parks on the water and Bayard is located right alongside the Connetquot River. Connetquot river state park is near there too and is also a beautiful place.

    4. Good to know.
      You can come out to Staten Island in the fall. Great beaches for kite flying and fishing. I have yet to catch a fish there, and the kites are in tatters, and it's mostly Italians, who don't seem to mind the Jews too much at the moment.

  6. Chaim B
    Is there a reason you dislike the further subsequent study?
    (I am intentionally ignoring "the Federalist" as I do not consider it a legitimate source)

  7. Ok, I really don't know who is right and who is wrong. Do you go בתר רוב? Rov of what? Epidemiologists? Communicable Disease specialists? I know that Reb Chaim's point is very important. I personally knew several people that died because of the lockdown, and it goes without saying that so many businesses and cities are facing bankruptcy and disruption of services. I don't know who is right, and I feel that the harm to the spiritual development of thousands of young men and women might be irreparable. I believe, as as certain Rosh Yeshiva told his family, "The Yeshiva is worth lives." Reb Akiva was doresh b'rabbim knowing the likely cost, and he used the mashal of the fish, and that is as true now as it was then. But I am following the advice of the doctors I know and trust. They are all in the Ditchek and Glatt camp.
    One thing I have to say: I still believe that the ultras and Chasidim have a problem with science. They have to. That is why they want to keep on making crazy weddings and such. But the demonstrations about shuls and schools, and even businesses, I no longer know who is right. But at least do what is advisable when it is not so hard! How hard is it to wear a mask? How hard is it to make a small wedding, or to skip the massive bar mitzva? That, I think, is an outgrowth of the arrogance of superiority and the willful disregard of science.

  8. Hi Rabbi

    Just curious how you differentiate so you rely on science re Covid (and so many other aspects in your life) but don't rely on the (majority opinion of) science when it comes to questions of age of the universe evolution as and other scientific ideas that challenge one's emunah. It is an issue that I constantly face and assume will face my entire life.

    1. I have learned that our intellectual and physical limitations can create apparent contradictions that are not really contradictions at all. Even where it seems like a binary, it is really not. Basically, that means that I trust the truth of the scientific method and I know the truth of faith, and when they are incompatible, I believe that if I were wiser, I would understand how they could both be true.
      For example, regarding the age of the universe. I recommend that you look up Gerald Schroeder. I myself and partial to the idea that before the creation, time did not exist, and a continuum of time can be created at any point in that continuum. I call it the bilateral creation of time. Please do not confuse this with the stupid Omphalos Hypothesis.