Note: This letter was sent to the Jewish Press on July 11 in response to a ruling by Rabbi Schachter that they published in the July 9 issue. The letter was ignored.
I write in response to the words attributed to Rabbi Hershel Schachter regarding whether one is obligated to get the Covid “vaccine”. I am well aware of Rabbi Schachter's credentials and have no delusions about my own. However, when the Torah is being clearly misrepresented – particularly by someone whose name carries weight – and everything is at stake, one must not be silent.
Rabbi Schachter writes that, with few exceptions, “everyone must get the vaccine”, and refers to this as the “ABC's of the Jewish religion.” Although I am not a world-renowned posek, I am qualified to comment on the ABC's of Judaism.
Rabbi Schachter cites a story in the Gemara about a man who planted a tree even though he would not live to enjoy its fruit, because his ancestors had done the same for his generation. This story has a nice mussar message, but for one to claim that this is a halachic basis for children who are at essentially zero risk from an illness to take an experimental drug that has been approved only for emergency use, which has already resulted in many thousands of serious injuries and deaths all over the world, and which is being foisted upon the public through a relentless campaign of fear, pressure, bribery, propaganda, and outright lies – for one to claim that children owe it to the world to be guinea pigs because there were trees in the world when they were born is so preposterous that it does not even qualify as Purim Torah.
The fact that such a source can be cited as a Torah argument for healthy children to be injected with a drug and endanger their health for a hypothetical benefit to other people only underscores the absence of actual halachic sources to support what is essentially child sacrifice. It is simply outrageous for a posek with the vast expanse of Torah before him to make such an argument.
Rabbi Schachter further states that parents who rightfully do not wish to endanger their children on the altar of the pharmaceutical industry – which has a long history of deceit, corruption, and moral turpitude – should have their children expelled from school. This is presented as a throwaway comment, without Torah support, despite the massive implications of such a position. Regardless of the name behind such a comment, this cannot be considered a psak, and it must be repudiated precisely because those with stature can cause tremendous damage with such remarks.
Rabbi Schachter begins his responses to two questions with life and death implications with “I think”, and claims that we must blindly follow the doctors of the generation. The ABC's of Judaism are that we are to blindly follow no one, except in extremely limited circumstances. We are certainly not to blindly follow doctors when they are paid for and owned by the pharmaceutical industry and the establishment, when doctors who are critical, independent thinkers, actually delve into the science, and speak out against the script they are handed to read are bullied and censored. On the contrary, in such cases we are to be extremely wary to the point of shev v'al ta'aseh, and certainly not take a drug with red flags all around it, whose effects are permanent and irreversible.
The occasions in which we follow doctors are limited to when people are already sick, the prescribed treatment is not surrounded by needless risks and long-term unknowns, there is no better alternative, and there are not other knowledgeable doctors (even a minority) who object to the treatment. We follow doctors when they tell us a sick person must eat on Yom Kippur. We do not follow doctors when they say healthy children, who are at a greater risk of getting struck by lightning than covid, must take a medical treatment to make others feel safer.
If you feel your children owe something to the world, let them plant a tree.
I hope Rabbi Schachter will issue a public statement that his words were grossly misrepresented, otherwise I am afraid he can no longer be relied upon.
I am happy to provide more information on these matters, including Torah sources, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rabbi Chananya Weissman