81 Just Another Day in Chelm...and more recent adventures
Chananya Weissman
March 11, 2021

Then and now


Rav Nachman bar Guria traveled to Neharda'ah. They asked him, "If one milks [on Shabbos], for what is he culpable?"
"For milking," he replied.
"If one sets milk, for what is he culpable?"
"For setting milk," he replied.
"If one makes cheese, for what is he culpable?"
"For making cheese," he replied.
"Your rabbi was a reed-cutter!" they retorted [Rashi: who doesn't know how to explain a teaching].
He went and asked in the Beis Midrash. They told him, "One who milks is culpable for unloading, one who sets milk is liable for selecting, one who makes cheese is culpable for building." (Shabbos 95A)


They asked: Why should we wear a mask?
Rabbi: Because they said so.
They asked: Why should we get injected with this experimental drug?
Rabbi: Because they said so.
They asked: Why should we stay away from people and demonize our fellow Jews?
Rabbi: Because they said so.
They said: The Rabbi is so great and wise!

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March 17

A car was riding around town today with a bullhorn blaring "Dati Leumi don't hesitate! They vote for Ichud Leumi!" A bunch of Smotrich's guys were wandering around trying to convince people to vote for him. Like little caricatures of their leader, they all had big knitted yarmulkas and little beards.

They saw me with my knitted yarmulka and tzitzis and thought they had a perfect Dati Leumi boy on their hands. Surely just like them I'm a sucker for identity politics and will mindlessly vote for whoever resembles me in some superficial way.

Boy did they start up with the wrong guy.

I encountered these people on four separate occasions in town today. I told them point blank there was zero chance I would vote for Smotrich. He doesn't believe I have any basic human rights, since I didn't get "vaccinated". As far as Smotrich is concerned, I have no rights over my body.

One of them immediately changed the subject, since obviously this is not important. He said that Smotrich is fighting against public transportation on Shabbos. No matter that he believes I have no basic human rights, and as far as he's concerned I can rot away in a detention camp for the rest of my life, or worse. The main thing is there won't be buses desecrating Shabbos while I rot away, and I should vote for Smotrich. What an idiot.

The Smotrich campaigner I encountered after that didn't know what hit him. I told him right off there's no chance, I told him why, and I said Smotrich is zevel. He wished me a good day, and I wished him a good day.

Then I went to a hardware store by the shuk to purchase some light bulbs. I wasn't wearing a mask. Everyone else in the store was, except one worker who was eating a falafel, and had the mask down to his chin. As I was about to leave, he asked me to put on a mask. I told him I have a medical exemption, and observed that he himself was eating without one.

Someone behind me on line said that just because he doesn't have one doesn't mean I shouldn't have one. What a chacham. So I reiterated that I'm exempt, and that his own mask doesn't do anything for him. The owner, who was behind the counter and was wearing a mask, piped up and AGREED with me. That was the end of it.

Outside another couple of Smotrich mascots approached me. I immediately told them there was no chance, and I was voting for Rapeh. "What's Rapeh?" one of them asked me. He had no clue.

I told him Smotrich believes I have no basic rights because I'm not getting vaccinated. "He really said that?" asked the guy. "Yes," I told him, "and he's zevel."

I don't believe these little encounters will overthrow the tyrants in power. But there's little doubt that these guys will remember me more than most of the people they met today, and they will talk about it, and maybe a little message will get sent up the chain, and maybe the chain will get just a little rattled. Maybe I even succeeded in converting one of the missionaries.

Just another day in Chelm.

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There is a minyan that has needed me to layn [read the Torah] many times, but I have not been available to join them for the last six weeks. I emailed them offering to layn this Shabbos, and the correspondence went as follows:

Chananya: Hi. I will be home next Shabbos and can layn. However, I am exempt from wearing a mask for medical/health reasons, so we need to be on the same page about that. Please let me know if you'd like me to layn next week.

Gabbai: I referred your question to Shmuel and he asks whether you are vaccinated?

Chananya: My medical history is personal and private. It's no one's business.

Gabbai: I understand. I am myself a dentist and we only ask relevant questions with complete respect of everyone’s privacy. At the shul, we respect the Tav Sagol regulations and accordingly conduct the first minyan indoors for Tav Yarok (vaccinated) people only. Non vaccinated and non-recovering people are of course welcome but they must remain outside. We do make sure all can hear the Chazan but the Chazan is indoors…I hope you understand.

Chananya: No, actually I don't understand. Here are two articles I wrote on the subject which express the Torah's actual perspective on these matters. I hope you will do teshuva, because the sins of segregating Jews in this way are many and severe. I will not daven with such people. Thank God I have other options with Jews who conduct themselves properly, but if not for these options I would sooner daven alone at home than with Jews who support medical tyranny and segregation, both of which violate the Nuremberg Code and the Torah.

I'm very disappointed in you.

Naturally, they didn't respond. They never do. The Judenrat pretend to be understanding and compassionate, but in reality they are cold spiritual corpses.

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Thanks to J.Z. for sharing this with me, presumably from his Daf Yomi studies. Pesachim 113A, followed by note 12 in the Artscroll edition:

"Rav said to Chiya his son, Do not ingest any unnecessary drugs.

"Note: Literally, do not drink [any] elixir. Rav cautioned his son not to take any drugs unnecessarily, since he may develop an addiction to them and squander his money on the addiction's support.  Even if he needs the medicine to treat a disease, he should take it only if there is no equivalent therapy (see Rashbam). Ben Yehoyada comments that taking a drug is like waging a war against a disease; Before one joins battle with an ailment (in its early stages), he should first attempt "diplomatic overtures," i.e. a generally healthful lifestyle.

"[Rashi (citing the Gemara above, 42b) points out that a drug that alleviates an ailment in one part of the body is often harmful for another part of the body.  In contrast, a Heaven-sent cure is not accompanied by new threats.  A hint to this is found is Psalms 107:20: [God] dispatches His word and cures [the sick] of their original malady, and He spares [them] from their destruction, i.e. the patient is spared devastating side effects (The Tehillim Treasury, citing R' Nachum Perlow, the Novominsker Rebbe)."

Today's Erev Rav conveniently ignore this and other such sources, and we must not allow them to mislead us.

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If you learned that rabbis signed a secret agreement with a drug company, would you be okay with that? Would you still trust them when they push a new drug?

So why do so many people continue to trust politicians and health officials who did exactly the same thing? Why is this even a discussion?

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A Hebrew translation of my article from May 2020, Civil Disobedience in a Torah State, is available upon request if you'd like to forward to your Israeli contacts.

The original English version is available here: https://chananyaweissman.com/article.php?id=198

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"If you have a family member or a friend planning to be vaccinated, and yet they don't appear to be at high-risk (e.g. over 65 with health conditions), please consider showing them this consent from from Solari who produced it for financial planning purposes:"

This is a punch right to the gut, but it's better than a jab in the arm. Maybe it will wake some people up.