Monday, May 25, 2020

we don't stop life because of uncertainty

Another long piece from R' Twersky shlit"a that can be summed up in one sentence: since there is much we don't know about the virus, we have to error on the side of caution and avoid having minyanim.

This type of thinking flies in the face of our common life experience.  More often than not in life we made decisions -- often very consequential decisions -- having incomplete knowledge and facing uncertainty.  Does R' Twersky think the medical profession is any different?  Does he think that at some point doctors know *all* there is about a disease?  And if knowing *enough* is in fact good enough, then who says how much that *enough* has to be?  Ikar chaseir min ha'sefer.  There is no attempt made to specify what information we still lack, what benchmark needs to be met, what data will create a confidence level that can allow shuls to open.  (And what about people working essential jobs -- should they quit because due to uncertainty there is a safeik sakana and by going to work they violate the lav of u'shmartem es nafshoseichem?)  All that one can say for certain after reading this piece is that the NY State Board of Heath does not set the standard for us, as they already feel they have *enough* knowledge of the disease to say that 10 people gathering to worship poses a minimal risk.  Who does set the standard for us to follow and based on what criteria is never defined. 

Without answers to these critical questions -- without people being willing to ask these questions -- this is a recipe for continued and perpetual lockdown.


  1. Kol Hakavod, Reb Chaim. Why is it that the Christian clergy are pleading/demanding that their congregants be allowed to pray together, while our Rabbanim insist on delaying tefillah b'tzibur until an undefined and unquantifiable endpoint ?

  2. In my country of 25 million, 12 people under age 70 have died and 43 in total under age 80. Total death toll is around 100.
    So under age 80 you have under 2 in a million chance of dying of Corona. (including those with pre-existing conditions, and those that got sick on cruise ships)
    This equates to the risk of travelling by car 500 miles or walking 34 miles. So if each minyan attendee drives 7 miles per day to and from minyonim, the total travel distance for 10 people per week is 70 miles approx. So every 7 weeks the chance of one of the 10 minyan attendees is the same as dieting from Corona.

    In spite of the above many Rabbonim and frum doctors in my country still do not permit minyonim, contrary to the government allowing it.

    How does one explain this misunderstanding of risk?