`111 15 Questions to Ask Your Rabbi
Chananya Weissman
July 18, Tisha B'Av

I am giving everyone a homework assignment. I want you to submit this list of questions to at least one rabbi, and share the response that you receive. Request their response in writing or recorded form (for quality assurance and other purposes). After all, Torah needs to be saved for posterity and studied.

Please send me the response from the rabbi with his name and any institutional affiliation. If the rabbi refuses to answer the questions, evades the questions, or refuses to allow his response to be publicized, please share that as well.

There is no reason to be shy about asking these questions or intimidated from doing so. This is their job.

Please do this. It's important.

15 Questions to Ask Your Rabbi

Please answer the following questions, and provide relevant halachic sources and precedents.

1. Must a healthy child be injected with a pharmaceutical product – which always carries risks and unknowns – for the presumptive purpose of decreasing the chances of others becoming sick?

2. Is it even permissible to force definite risks and unknowns upon a healthy child for the entirely hypothetical benefit to other people?

3. Under what circumstances, if any, is it permissible for healthy Jews to submit to a medical experiment?

4. Is there any halachic precedent to allow doctors virtually unlimited control over all of Klal Yisrael, indefinitely?

5. On what basis can all of Klal Yisrael be instructed to surrender the power to decide when, if, and under what circumstances they may daven, learn Torah, educate their children, and otherwise live a normative Jewish life to any outside group? Even the Sanhedrin did not exercise such absolute control over the daily life of Klal Yisrael; why is a group of people who are overwhelmingly not Jewish, and even heretics, entitled to greater power over Jewish life than the Sanhedrin?

6. Under what circumstances may a minority of medical opinions be followed?

7. Even in cases where the majority of doctors are followed, shall the opinions of doctors who have not independently studied and demonstrated proficiency in the pertinent science be counted?

8. Similarly, must we count the “majority” opinions of doctors who have conflicts of interest, or risk serious repercussions if they express a view contrary to the establishment?

9. On what halachic basis are we obligated to assume that doctors, rabbis, or anyone else with a serious negi'us (vested interest) will not be influenced by this, especially in matters where we are assuming risks to our health and they bear no liability for anything that happens to us?

10. On what halachic basis must we assume that pharmaceutical companies with an unbroken history of satanic greed and disregard for human life shall be trusted, especially when they have nothing to fear from the law and they have tremendous leverage over the agencies that are supposed to oversee them?

11. On what halachic basis must we assume that government agencies, politicians, health officials, and other influencers of public opinion can be trusted when they have lied, made gross mistakes, engaged in deceit and manipulation, and receive funding from the pharmaceutical companies whose products and positions they endorse? At what point according to halacha does a doctor with a valid medical opinion become compromised?

12. If a rabbi has a position with an agency that has negi'us, or will otherwise suffer repercussions if he expresses a view against the “majority”, on what basis can we assume that his support of their position is not influenced by this?

13. On what basis can we be so sure that this negi'us has no influence over his support of their position that we may bank our physical and spiritual lives on it?

14. In the entire course of Jewish history, during which our nation endured many plagues, has there ever been a response so widespread, intrusive, authoritarian, and unlimited both in scope and duration? Why does this situation justify such a radical departure from everything in Torah and tradition? On what basis are so many rabbis urging this radical departure with total conviction and severe condemnations for those who don't fall completely into line?

15. If a rabbi instructs a healthy person to submit to a medical experiment (even if – especially if – it is referred to in other terms), and that person is harmed in any way, is the rabbi liable in human courts or the Heavenly court?