Guidance: Watching your health and following advice from doctors during a pandemic [UPDATED]

You can print the document here.

rav weiss w


To Prevent Death and Plague

In response to many questioners I am publicizing my opinion regarding the correct approach according to the Halacha during this difficult period of the coronavirus pandemic.

Plagues have afflicted Klal Yisroel throughout history and in each generation the Psak Halacha was to be stringent to the point of extreme. One cannot learn how to behave in the time of an epidemic from the general rules of preventing danger during peace and calm. In the times of the Tanna’im (Bava Kama 60b), and in the times of the Amorai’m (Kesubos 77b) and in later generations as explained in the Maharil (Shu”t Maharil 41), Maharshal (Yam Shel Shlomo Bava Kama Perek 6, Siman 26), Rem”a (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Siman 116 Se’if 5) and many other early Rabbis all state the same ruling that one must follow all of the directives of medical experts.

In the times of the Acharonim there were diseases in the calendar years of 1831, 1849, 1867, 1873, and more. During these years the Psak of Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Iggros 71, Sefer Psakim 20), the Chasam Sofer (Shu”t Orach Chaim Siman 102 and Chelek 6 Siman 23), Yeshuos Yaakov (see Ma’amar Mordechai Yoreh De’ah Siman 67), Rav Chaim Falaji (Refuah VeChaim), Mishnah Berurah (Biur Halacha Siman 554 Se’if 6) and many Rabbanim, Sefardim and Ashkenazim, from Galicia or Lita all issued similar rulings that one must act according to the guidance of the medical experts regarding: quarantine, avoiding hotspots, social distancing, and wearing a cover over the nose and mouth (this is discussed at length in my Halacha book).

How shameful is the feeling as each day more people have become sick and passed away from this sickness, Admorim, Roshei Yeshivos, great Torah teachers, and Amcha Beis Yisroel, and thousands more are struggling with pain and suffering while we cannot say we are not responsible for this.

I have already made it clear that we are obligated to be even more careful than the requirements of the various governments and world health organizations who are confused by ulterior motives, we live according to the light of our Holy Torah, and we are commanded “be very careful with your life”, how can we not be embarrassed while irreligious and non- Jews might wonder, how are we keeping the Torah’s admonition “watch yourself and guard you health very carefully” (see Ramba”m Hilchos Rotzeach 11:4 and Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat Siman 427 Se’if 8).

In this difficult time one must increase his own diligent Torah study with joy, and belief in the Power of Prayer and in be happy to do Mitzvos. We know from Hassidic sources and Mussar books that every Divine decree is just a test and in each difficult situation one must become stronger, everyone should study Torah continuously and concentrate in prayer, the sound of Torah and the voice of Tefillah should split the Heavens as they rise up from each home, every yard and all of the parks until the entire public space is filled with the Holiness of Torah and it will be said about us “and I will go among you, and I will be for you G-d, and you will be My nation”.

Signed with tears and pleas,

Asher Weiss

Chief Justice and Dean, Darkei Torah, Jerusalem

This content, and any other content on TLS, may not be republished or reproduced without prior permission from TLS. Copying or reproducing our content is both against the law and against Halacha. To inquire about using our content, including videos or photos, email us at [email protected].

Stay up to date with our news alerts by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

**Click here to join over 20,000 receiving our Whatsapp Status updates!**

**Click here to join the official TLS WhatsApp Community!**

Got a news tip? Email us at [email protected], Text 415-857-2667, or WhatsApp 609-661-8668.


  1. Rav Weiss’ Psakim, like this one,(he indicated he has issued many) should have been published and circulated widely long, long ago. It would have prevented much sickness and worse, not to mention the chilul Hashem.

    • Rav Weiss’s views on proper Jewish behavior during this pandemic have been widely publicized.

      He has given many broadcasts on the topic both in Hebrew and English.

      He is a model rov and posek and a treasure.

      But we all have to be oyberchachamim and come up with stupid svoros to justify why we do what WE want to do. It’s all politics, masks don’t work, It’ll all be over after the election, the politicians don’t even keep their own guidelines, etc, etc, etc. I’ve heard it all.

      But when someone dies and YOU were the infected person that sat next to him in shul, what will your excuse be?

      Thank you Rav Weiss.

    • The WHO did not come out against lockdowns, that is fake news. People hear what they want to hear and read what they want to read.

      A WHO official said that lockdowns should not be the ONLY method used. He did not say they are ineffective, he did not say they should be disregarded, he did not say that absent another eitza we should just do what we want.

      He merely said that it should be used as a backstop for less draconian measures and only in conjunction with masks, social distancing, handwashing and rigorous testing and contact tracing.

    • While the frum websites are reporting it as such, they did not say something nearly that broad or with that implication. That is a gross misrepresentation of what they said. I don’t even understand how the websites could take a statement that says “Lockdowns are complicated and aren’t first choice” and interpret it this way. Literally everyone, from Cuomo to de Blasio agrees with that. It has no actual relevance to any of the situations we find ourselves in.

  2. Al kinds of letters have emerged in the last months, yet none with clear מראי מקומות like this one.

    If you want to offer an opinion, back it up with actual sources.

    Well done Rabbi Weiss

  3. Infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists are joining in great numbers to offer a different perspective. They have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing Covid-19 policies and recommend an approach called Focused Protection. You can learn more about this by searching for “The Great Barrington Declaration.”

  4. I am still waiting for my kids school to take this virus more seriously. There are families with high risk individuals that need to send their kids to school and schools need to make it safe for everybody.

Comments are closed.