An emergency meeting convened by the rabbis and Roshei Yeshivos of Bnei Brak established strict new regulations regarding how to combat coronavirus within the city, which is still suffering both from the effects of the virus and from the negative publicity it received during the first wave of the virus three months ago.
Rabbi Shimon Ba’adani, a member of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages, spoke about the severity of the situation: “A parent came to me and told me that in his son’s yeshiva they allow them to sit in the shiur without a mask. I told him unequivocally: You must take your son out the yeshiva. They are belittling the danger and there is no excuse for this. I heard that a G-dfearing Jew was Sandek without a mask. Who can allow such a thing? Who can be lenient on live and death issues, its is a Torah obligation!”.
Rabbi Baruch Diskin, the Rosh Yeshiva of Orchos Torah said that “we have come hear to raise an outcry. People need to know that whoever goes without a mask bears responsibility for the entire Torah world. We are reaching a situation where heaven forfend we will need to close all Torah institutions and shuls. Doesn’t the public understand that we are going there? If one Jew is careless, he should know that he has responsibility for the entire Torah world, who can bear such a burden? There is no room for a believing Jew to say “I’ll be ok”. We should realize that if heaven forfend we will need a lockdown, we won’t be able to oppose it because it will be a life-threatening situation.”
The rabbis of the town, Rabbi Chaim Yitzchak Eizik Landa and Rabbi Shevach Rosenblatt also spoke about the individual’s responsibility to others regarding wearing a mask and stated that “one who is lenient on this is directly responsible for placing others in isolation with all the attendant damage to body and soul stemming from the isolation, it is all due to that person’s carelessness.”
General (Res.) Roni Nome who helped the city during the first wave presented the participants with new data about the rate of infection, demonstrating that there is a sharp rise in infection in crowded places including Torah institutions, shuls and event halls. (In one instance, 53 bachurim from the Beis Matisyahu yeshiva tested positive for the virus. The yeshiva was closed until further notice.)
The director of the local emergency center, Arik Adler, warned that “if action is not taken to curb the outbreak the rate of infection could rise much higher.”
- From this Thursday (Parshas Balak) until the following Shabbos all minyanim in shuls and yeshivos should contain no more than 40 people.
- The minyanim are conditional on strict maintenance of social distancing and full masks for every person with no leniencies whatsoever
- Masks should totally cover mouth and nose in accordance with medical requirements and transparent protectors or partial coverings should not be used. Whoever cannot wear a mask should not go to shul and cannot be part of the minyan.
- Larger minyanim can take place outdoors if all the above rules are maintained.
- Residents over the age of 70 should be doubly careful and should preferably daven outside.
- Whoever feels even slightly unwell even without the common symptoms of the virus must stay at home until it is clear that he has no fever and none of the known symptoms. If he feels any of the symptoms he must stay isolated from the other members of his household.
- If a person is not properly isolated, all members of his house may not go to minyan and they must behave like him.
- Sick persons must go to a convalescent hotel in accordance with the directives so that they do not cause infection to others.
- All schools, Talmud Torahs and yeshivas must diligently follow the rules since responsibility for the community’s welfare is on them. Those who cannot comply should not open their institutions.
- A supervising framework will be established for yeshivas, including doctors and communal leaders. Those who do not abide by rules will unfortunately have to be closed.
- We call on all people making simchas to responsibly maintain the rules, wear masks and limit participants. No dances while holding hands since it is clearly dangerous and this is not the simcha Hashem wants. A simcha with proper care taken will bring Divine help, peace and prosperity.
- Older people should try not to participate in simchos unless obligated. At children’s weddings they should maintain more distancing and be more careful.
- A rabbinical council comprised of rabbis and medical advisors will provide halachic guidance on all practical issues.