Friday, July 3, 2020

This Time It's Not The Charedim

During the initial rise of coronavirus in Israel, I wrote a number of posts critical of the charedi leadership for opposing health precautions, and their problematic theological claim that mass learning in yeshivos protects from contagion. While the charedi leadership was late to catch up to the reality of the situation, with tragic consequences in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem, they did eventually catch up. Now, the problem is everyone else.

Recently my wife and I were looking at Tel Aviv's magnificent Great Synagogue. Across the street was a cafe, which was so unbelievably crowded that we would have stopped to look in astonishment even if there wasn't a pandemic. Dozens upon dozens of people crowded around all the outside tables, and of course nobody was wearing a mask. It seemed to us that in the streets of Tel Aviv, there were far less people wearing masks than in the streets of Ramat Beit Shemesh.

My sister had an even more disturbing experience. She had to go a hospital for a medical appointment, and some of the hospital staff weren't wearing masks!

With the shockingly sharp rise of new cases in Israel - from less than ten new cases daily a few weeks ago, to over a thousand today - Bibi is starting to roll out new restrictions, and is talking about more to come. These will have harsh consequences of the livelihoods of many people. And it's because the existing restrictions are not being adhered to - or enforced. Yes, the police have started to give 500 NIS fines to people not wearing masks, but the enforcement of this is absurdly uneven - they fined a rebbe with a group of kids in a park in Ramat Beit Shemesh, while masses throng in Tel Aviv without any fear of fines.

Not that the blame lies solely with secular residents of Tel Aviv. I was horrified to read an article from a Rabbi Michoel Green of Chabad Jewish Center of Westborough condemning rabbis who rebuke people for not wearing masks. He declared that the Torah doesn't say that you have to wear a mask, but it does say that you mustn't shame people. How can anyone utter such nonsense? The Torah also doesn't say that you shouldn't drive under the influence of alchohol, but does that mean that one should berate those who rebuke drunk-drivers rather than berating those who drink and drive?! This rabbi has his Torah exactly backwards; the Torah is all about social responsibility, and wearing masks (and correcting those who don't) is very much part of that.

It's incumbent on all of us to behave responsibly. If you're not worried about your personal health, or even about the health of others who are more vulnerable, then think about the economic consequences of further lockdown - nearly a quarter of the population is unemployed!

And we wear masks not just for our personal safety, or even for the safety of others, but also to demonstrate publicly that we believe in being careful. It's simply madness that people are failing to do such an easy thing, regardless of the terrible consequences that they are causing.

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32 comments:

  1. My brother and myself notify people wearing masks on their chins that wearing masks symbolically serves little purpose. Social consciousness needs to be fired up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Are you aware that many responsible countries do not require people to wear masks? (Switzerland for instance)
    Do you think they have a different science ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Switzerland has an increase in cases and is now introducing obligatory masks on public transport and maybe othercsites

      Delete
    2. Everywhere has an increase in cases. That’s how counting works.

      Either way, you missed the point of my post.

      Delete
  3. This time, it's not JUST the charedim.

    "Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush said on Wednesday that rabbis order yeshiva students who are feeling unwell to avoid getting tested for coronavirus in order to hide the real infection rates within the ultra-Orthodox community."
    https://www.ynetnews.com/article/rJh9cMqA8

    ReplyDelete
  4. In Yerushalayim, the threat of a 500 NIS fine seems to have had an effect. A few weeks ago maybe half the people I saw in secular areas had masks. Now they all do. But to their credit, in the Chareidi areas I frequent, I noticed almost 100% adherence for the last couple of months at least!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think, if it's a person in a synagogue, it's a 500 shekel fine for that person. But, if there are a number of people (I don't remember how many), they put a flat 5000 shekel fine on the whole synagogue--and the synagogue is under risk of closure!

      Delete
  5. Yes, I agree that we need to wear mask during this time. Like, Come on, guys. Act like an adult and where a mask. It’s the most reasonable thing to do. Especially if you have elderly people in the house. It’s a shame that it takes Bibi to place restrictions for the people to act. Europe is denying it but a second wave of coronavirus is on the verge. Worse, they’re talking about a new virus coming out of China, swine flu.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The lockdowns were only ever intended to be a short term measure to "flatten the curve" meaning to slow the rate of infections without changing the overall number.

    That's important to note. No health organization has ever claimed that any of these measures will ever reduce the overall number of people infected. The virus will continue to spread until the population reaches herd immunity, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

    Face masks have been studied for decades. Nobody claims that they protect you from getting infected, because they don't form a tight seal. But do they protect others? If the mask is not worn over the nose, it is doing nothing. The vast majority of masks that people wear are also ineffective. If you can fog a mirror or spray aresol through a mask, it is ineffective.
    https://www.bitchute.com/video/I4v7eOuXxoAn/

    https://web.archive.org/web/20200614222311/https://www.oralhealthgroup.com/features/face-masks-dont-work-revealing-review/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes, people in Tel Aviv also feel separate from and superior to the rest of the country. The similarities end there.
    Army, taxes , welfare etc etc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, you should check your facts. Plenty "upper class" tel avivians avoid the draft and take advantage of welfare and government programs. Tax evasion as well.

      Delete
  8. Unfortunately, the top echelons of the religious world, mo matter what faith, are the means tbrough which mazal follows.

    If the top minds ("minds" in some faiths) dismiss virus mitigation the rest of humanity falls in line.

    We are watching the spiritual fallout from the damage already done over six months ago.

    It's heartbreaking.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Rabbi Michoel Green of Chabad Jewish Center of Westborough" - an absolutely inconsequential person who would have remained in not only obscurity but eventual obsolescence had you not done some serious cherry-picking of internet searches (you don't live there, right?) in order to FIND and PUBLICIZE his opinion. Chic, no?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't search for this. It popped up in my Facebook feed, when his view was quoted approvingly in a Jewish website.

      Delete
    2. Someone in my (Chabad) shul quipped: "Just like there are people who yell "Shabbos!" if a car drives through their neighborhood on Shabbat, you should yell "Mask!" if you see a person walking through your neighborhood without a mask!"

      Delete
  10. Judaism is a culture club. It's a way of life. Some people are going to get it "right" and some people are going to get it "wrong". It's hard to see what's right or wrong from your little vantage point.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Is this email an apology for everything you've said on the topic about the Charedim?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Excuse me - "the Torah is all about social responsibility, and wearing masks (and correcting those who don't) is very much part of that" - from where did you derive that bit of liberal garbage?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bor Birshus HaRabim. Livnei Iver Lo Titen Michshol. Maakeh. Etc., etc.

      Delete
    2. Ve'Ahavta l'reacha camocha, peah, leket, Tzedek U'Mishpat,
      Ki gerim hayyitem, etc

      Just read the Book, it's so obvious.

      Plus if you want a thorough treatment read Rabbi Sacks 'To Heal A Fractured World'.
      He nails it.

      Delete
  13. And the Good "rabbi" virtue signals:

    And we wear masks not just for our personal safety, or even for the safety of others, but also to demonstrate publicly that we believe in being careful. It's simply madness that people are failing to do such an easy thing, regardless of the terrible consequences that they are causing.


    Interesting how in the USA, those states where the infection rates are going UP and markedly lower numbers of actual DEATHS.

    Maybe not all of the experts are right about everything all of the time? And your over-reliance on them demonstrates more sciencism rather than science. Rationalist, indeed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. Deaths are a lagging indicator.

      2. Hospitalizations are also a lagging indicator but don't lag by as much time as deaths. At first it was "increased cases but hospitals are totally fine!" Now we have reached the point where that is not the case. States with outbreaks are sounding the alarms and getting more strict about social distancing policies to save their hospitals. Texas banned elective procedures and called for masks. Gee, I wonder why.
      First cases increase, then hospitalizations, then deaths. That is the order in time.

      3. When NY and NJ are excluded from the USA data, instead of looking at all US states in aggregate, which doesn't make sense to begin with, the states with rising case numbers also have rising deaths for a few weeks now. The death rate is declining in NY and NJ, which previously dominated the USA statistics because of how high these numbers reached. NY and NJ are driving the statistics you are looking at BECAUSE the cases and infection rates have decreased dramatically in NY and NJ after going higher than anywhere else.

      So the idea that cases are increasing while deaths decrease is a falsehood. A lie.

      4. Do you imagine for some reason that more people being infected somehow *decreases* deaths? How or why would that be the case?
      The disease caused by this virus is deadly to some extent. In a small percentage of people. In a larger percentage it causes the need for hospitalization and breathing assistance.

      The number this disease kills may be .7%, may be 1%, maybe 1.1%. No one can really know for sure. But whatever the percentage is, the more people who get it, the more people will die. That is how math and percentages work. (Unless something about the virus changes, which is out of our control, and it becomes no longer deadly to any % of people. But that hasn't happened. Don't claim it happened without evidence suggesting it has, and while all evidence suggests it hasn't. Doing so would make you deceptive and a liar).

      Delete
  14. How could anyone (especially Chilonim or others) not take this seriously:

    “When due to our many sins, Shamayim has increased the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, we surely must arouse ourselves and be mechazeik ourselves,” the Gedolim wrote. “Each person knows in their heart what to work on and specifically, everyone should guard the kedushas batei knesseios and batei medrashios.”

    “We also have to remember that at a time like this, the binding mitzvah upon us is guarding our health,” the Gedolim wrote. “‘Chamira sakanta mei’isura’ [one must be more machmir to avoid danger to life than violating issurim] and chalilah to become lax in this.”

    “It is appropriate to guard [one’s health by adhering to regulations] and be mechazeik in this for the zechus and the protection of Am Yisrael. And everyone should make an effort to say pirkei Tehillim after tefillos, to appeal and implore the Ribono Shel Olam to remove this evil from our nation.”

    Rosh Yeshivas Slabodka Hagaon Harav Dov Landau also spoke about the topic at the yeshivah, Kikar H’Shabbos reported. “It’s forbidden to relate to issues of pikuach nefesh like a type of game,” Harav Landau said. “To do things in violation of the doctors’ orders is a terrible avla (violation).”

    “Wearing a mask during these times is a total obligation on each and every person without any exceptions. It’s a complete sin to refrain from wearing it.”

    (source: YWN)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's good that the rabbis say these things. I live in a haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem and I can tell you that mask wearing and social distancing is just not happening.
      As someone who doesn't want to get sick, it's terrifying to go outside.

      Delete
  15. I've been hearing reports that the charedim are keeping the rules more than others, but I wasn't sure if I should believe it.
    But if the great anti-charedi crusader says so, I suppose it must be true...

    Someone should ask that idiot chabad rabbi where it says in the torah not to shoot yourself in the head!

    ReplyDelete
  16. It's not JUST the chareidim, but they still account for a large percentage of cases: https://www.timesofisrael.com/ultra-orthodox-arab-neighborhoods-again-centers-of-jerusalem-virus-surge/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is not due to a lack of keeping the rules. That is due to the crowded living conditions they have.

      Delete
    2. I think that the statistics are likely to even out with non charedim. I see charedim in my neighborhood being very strict about masks and distancing. Yet, there are a lot in quarantine, and nice amount of those tested positive but without symptoms. I think that the reason for this overrepresentation is that charedim are in mosdot. Mosdot must report every case and the ruled fir quarantine is different. Each mosad is judged and decided by misrad habriut differently. Mosdot also know who is there daily. Kollelim and yeshivas and chadorim are still running till 9 av (classes of students have been sent home). Whereas people working in an office may not necessarily be reporting as many people for quarantine and testing and colleges are not running in person classes. This will equal out as they just began tracking phones.

      Delete
    3. Some chareidim are big on singing too, and if they're singing in groups unprotected that makes this virus transmit like wildfire, as proven from research on churches here in the US that thought they could hold service.

      Delete
  17. Some people cannot were masks because of a medical condition or disability. Please keep this in mind when attempting to "rebuke" people not wearing a mask. Imagine what life must now be like for people unable to wear a mask - constant fear of verbal abuse...

    ReplyDelete
  18. https://principia-scientific.org/top-pathologist-no-one-has-died-from-the-coronavirus/

    ReplyDelete

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