12 Tevet 5781
Some of you readers might be surprised to learn that it is not at all uncommon for bloggers to receive threats and insults and promises of all kinds of retribution for being on the "wrong" side of this issue or another. It goes with the territory of being outspoken and opinionated and even more so if you are female and low down on the social totem pole. Bullies always go for the weak-looking ones. I have to share the one that came in this morning's mail because it gave me a good laugh...
"You should remove the false data about the vaccine. Gedoli Yisrael said it's a chiyuv. You will litteraly (sic) have blood on your hands for convincing ppl not to take the virus."
I'm sure the author, who appears to reside in the States, really meant to write "vaccine" but instead, he made a Freudian slip and wrote "virus" - love it.
Then there was the comment, also in the morning mail and now published on the previous blog post, which said...
I think we need to discuss the next step. Because a very high percentage of the world population - both Jewish and non-Jewish are going ahead with the vaccine and looking at it like the salvation - what do you think is going to happen next? It's so heartrending to read the comments and furious arguments each man toward the next in regard to yes vaccinate, not vaccinate, one is obligated to, etc. etc. etc. - I think the few who are trying so hard to see the Emes amongst all of this Sheker could use a dose of Chizuk, no?
I agree, so what follows will be my best attempt to answer these questions.
In recent times, we've seen for ourselves a phenomenon that has even been extensively remarked upon across all media, and that is the very great polarization that has been taking place on many subjects across all levels of society worldwide. Torah sources call this the great "birur" or clarification. The "middle ground" has virtually disappeared while people choose one side over another - this process ultimately "clarifies" what they truly believe and where they stand with regard to the Master of the Universe.
In the end, it will determine who lives and who dies and since this is the main subject of whether to submit to this injection they persist in calling a vaccine, even though by every scientific criteria, it is not a vaccine, I suspect we have reached the final phase in the birur process. The final test of this final phase will be to stand strong and stand fast with the Truth against very great opposition; however, know that even among those who feel they will be steadfast, the pressure will be so great and the doubts which will continue to invade our thoughts as well as the manufactured fear that strains our hearts could so undermine our commitment and resolve that we could succumb even at the last moment.
In the book Redemption Unfolding by Alexander Aryeh Mandelbaum and published by Feldheim, the rabbi writes:
...The last 45 days of Chevlei Moshiach will be more difficult than the first days. The troubles of those final days will move the community of Israel to do complete teshuva, and, thereby, they will be privileged to merit the geula.
...Rav Avrohom Azulai wrote (Chessed leAvrohom, Maayan 5, Nahar 35): "The troubles shall increase as they never did before.... These are the 45 days in the future when Israel will go out of Jerusalem to be in the desert of the nations of the world, just as Lot was displaced during the upheaval of Sedom, when he was not able to save even a small piece of bread, and he was rushed out into the desert. Actually, the troubles of Israel will be in a very similar manner. Bnei Yisroel will be dispersed throughout the desert, and all the troubles that Israel ever experienced will not be like these troubles.... There, Israel shall count 45 days... they will eat only salty roots that they will find in the desert, and then they will all repent there. Those who cannot stand it will go to the nations of the world, and be destroyed with them.
For that reason it is absolutely essential to find a dependable source of strength. Of course, we find strength through words of Torah, through our connection with HKB"H and shared experience with like-minded individuals, but never underestimate the power of Tehillim to restore your soul and empower your faith.
Rabbi Mandelbaum wrote already in 2005...
The Test of Our Times
“This is the test that HaShem has propelled us into in the time before Moshiach. HaShem has brought many Jews back to Eretz Yisroel, and they rule it, and those who have cast off the yoke of Torah gloat as if they have accomplished this miracle with their own powers. The more their arrogance grows, the more their audacity will burgeon, with ever-increasing desire to force their heresy on us. This is the last, most difficult challenge of the golus. The more we recognize this test with all its impact, the better we will understand our task – to strengthen ourselves against these physically-based, false beliefs.
“Those who stand strong against all the heresy – who, rather than being influenced, bolster their belief in HaShem and do not budge at all from the true dictates of the Torah – will merit to see the full Redemption through Moshiach. To them will be revealed the highest levels of spiritual clarity, a knowledge of real truth – a glimpse of the light of Gan Eden. For them will be rectified all the spiritual darkness and ‘hiding’ that has so clouded the world since the sin of Adam, and they will be granted, in the end, true completion in this world, and revelation of the greatness of HaShem’s kingdom in the World to Come….”
...The great technological advancements of the last generation - amazing advances in the fields of engineering, chemistry, biology, nuclear research, and other sciences - have all been used by Edom as they try to assert that they have the power and ability to conquer and rule over nature. They have used their incredible intellectual achievements to immerse the world in the fulfillment of their wishes and desires. Today, these technological advancements themselves constitute the greatest threats to the world, for they can be used to manufacture tools of widespread destruction such that our ancestors never even imagined.
Moreover, it is clear that these technological inventions, which, admittedly, are of great help to humanity, are now the greatest sources of terror in the world. This is because any attempt to change the natural order of the Holy One, Blessed be He, will be revealed at the end of days to have caused irreversible damage. We see that technological advancement itself has transformed itself from a symbol of pride, serenity, and happiness, to a source of subjugation, terror, and fear. ...Today, it is very clear that the only One we can depend upon is our Father in Heaven.
Written over 15 years ago and it could not be more apropos of the current situation! As in the population at large, even among the "gedolim" there is polarization on this issue and it doesn't stop at a ruling that one may or may not take this injection, but that one must at all costs submit or at all costs avoid. Both sides cite to danger and pikuach nefesh.
All that any of us can really do is try our very best to understand the issues and also try our very best to see that important information is available to all, so that everyone can make his own informed decision. No one can decide for another. We each have the responsibility for ourselves and, of course, those who are dependent upon us.
Again, I advise all the readers that all the halachot involving vaccines from the past cannot be applied to this situation as what they are injecting is decidedly and conclusively NOT a vaccine.
Someone brought me a copy of the Torah Tidbits this past Shabbat in which can be found the "OU / RCA COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance." It follows in the same path as the majority coming out of the religious world. But, what I found most compelling was this paragraph:
While this guidance of our poskim has addressed vaccine usage generally, the introduction of the novel COVID-19 vaccines required specific reconsideration. The poskim recognize that the COVID-19 vaccines have been developed with unprecedented speed and are expected to be made available under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). In addition, the two currently leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates are mRNA vaccines which employ a new vaccine technology.
That is to say, nobody there is under any illusions about what is really at stake; however,...
Notwithstanding these factors, the conclusion of our poskim is that, pursuant to the advice of your personal health care provider, the Torah obligation to preserve our lives and the lives of others requires us to vaccinate for COVID-19 as soon as it becomes available.
In other words, all legitimate areas of concern are swept aside and rendered irrelevant by the phrase "notwithstanding these factors." They will not be addressed, they will be ignored, glossed over, and rather than leave people the wiggle room, as other rabbonim who have ruled that it is too early to tell what risks the vaccine could pose, so people should wait, they eliminate that legitimate out by saying "as soon as it becomes available" - assur to wait!
Now, as to what is coming next... See here: Possible Leaked Roadmap for the Next Phase of the Agenda and keep in mind that this came out back in October. However, that's what The Powers That Shouldn't Be plan to do. HKB"H is working on His own agenda. I expect we'll know who Mashiach is by Pesach, but that still won't be the end. It'll really be just another beginning, but a good and happy one!
Look, there is no doubt that this is a very, very difficult Test. And it will require a great deal of mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice) to pass successfully. But, really, all you have to do is look at the situation realistically and understand who is pushing it - ON THE ENTIRE WORLD! - and you'll already know the correct path to follow and the right decision to make. Put your full faith and trust in HKB"H and He will give you the assurance you need to know if you've chosen well.
Hashem be with us all!!