Monday, May 18, 2020

Open Letter from Rabbi Daniel Green to Crown Heights Rabbis

Guest contributor: Rabbi Daniel Green (bio below)

Open letter to all rabbonim of Crown Heights, sheyichyu:

Never before in history has such darkness befallen the world, rachmana litzlan. I need not elaborate or belabor this point, but let it suffice to say that the congregating of Jews to pray and study, the functioning of shuls and yeshivas, is essential to our faith, and to the very existence of our people and the universe: 
The entire purpose of the creation of man is that Hashem’s presence should dwell in the world - and this is accomplished through Jews gathering (for Torah study and the performance of mitzvos) - ten Jews specifically! 
Tanya (Igeres Hakodesh epistle 23)
Ahaz reasoned: "... If there are no houses of prayer or study, G-d no longer causes His presence to dwell in the world."
What did he do? He rose and locked up all synagogues and houses of study, so that Jews can no longer occupy themselves in Torah study...
Why was his name "Ahaz?" It is because he seized (and locked up) the synagogues and houses of study...
There had never been a time that was as severe for Israel as then, as it states: "And I shall hide My face on that day on account of all the evil that he did..."
Psichta to Esther Raba 11
The world only exists because of the breath of tinokos shel beis rabban (reciting Torah).
Shabbos 119b
Yerushalayim was destroyed only because the studies of tinokois shel beis rabban there were interrupted, as it is stated: "...pour (the wrath) onto the babes outside" [1]... What is the reason that the wrath is poured? It is because the “babes were outside” (of their schools).
In light of the above, with a heavy heart and woeful consternation I write this letter of protest. Several months ago you banned tefila bitzibur and limud hatorah b’asarah, essentials of our faith. Your ban pre-empted the government’s bans, and you stood by in silence and support while community agencies closed all our yeshivos and chadorim. 

You did so by asserting that pikuach nefesh is “docheh kol hatorah kula.” Community members readily complied with your ban, due to the fear of themselves contacting the disease, and more importantly, to save the elderly and immunocompromised, an altruistic attempt to observe the mitzva of “lo saamod al dam reyacha.”

After months of “sheltering in place” with total shutdown of all mosdos chinuch, shuls and minyanim, etc, I am compelled to object to your assumptions and erroneous application of the notion that what you refer to as pikuach nefesh is grounds to stop not only Jewish observances like biur chometz and tevilas keilim, but to do away with the aforementioned, crucial tenets of Yiddishkeit as well; namely, Jews gathering in prayer and Torah study.

Had your order to shelter in place been an edict of pikuach nefesh in order to save lives as you claimed, then why did you not ban us from visiting and waiting on lines at neighborhood stores? Why did you even allow these Jewish-owned businesses to remain open? Why didn’t you ban members of our kehila from having picnics or strolling in Prospect Park?

Do not claim that as religious leaders, your jurisdiction is limited to shuls and yeshivas, or that you couldn’t prohibit that which the government had allowed. That is a sorrowful and specious excuse. If your concern is pikuach nefesh, then you were surely obliged to prohibit all the above as well. How could you have relied upon the government's laxity in these areas when Jewish lives are at stake?

Furthermore, why did you not close the women’s mikvah? Surely ritual immersion at this time is not an activity for which women should be risking their lives or the lives of others to execute, and abstinence, in such life-threatening situations, is compulsory.

In addition, how were the wine stores allowed to remain open, when the need to recite kiddush and havdala surely doesn’t override a tangible threat of sakanas nifoshois!

And moreover, why did you not asser visits to the Ohel, which clearly involve the verboten and “grossly-irresponsible” act of congregating, since groups of ten people are allowed into the Ohel at a time? In fact, while the Beis Din refused to allow any minyan in Crown Heights, a prominent member of the Beis Din was seen visiting the Ohel two Fridays ago!

The inconsistency is glaring. You have banned all minyanim, closed all shuls and yeshivos - effectively preventing the shechina from being manifest in the world (as sourced at the opening of this letter) - clearly considering them as non-essentials, yet standing with a quorum of people in the Ohel was for some reason exempt from the ban!

(Incidentally, later on the very same Friday, the same rabbi forbade a man [who had a chiuv to recite kaddish for his mother] from joining an outdoor minyan in a large, enclosed parking lot of an apartment building, where each of the participants of the minyan took meticulous precaution to respect social-distancing guidelines).

My point in publicizing your inconsistencies is not to suggest that you close the wine stores, or the Ohel, or mikva’os, chas visholom.

My point is quite the contrary.

Halacha mandates that pikuach nefesh is docheh kol hatorah kula when there is a tangible and acute sakana for the person himself, or for one’s fellow (see Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer siman 17 perek 2). This is not only the viewpoint of the Torah, but, l’havdil, the modern world’s medical establishment as well.

And this is why the government and the world health organization have not stopped people from picnicking at Prospect Park, or buying ice cream, liquor, or other non-essential delicacies. Because the said activities are not “killing” anyone, and people have a right to their liberty and pleasure-seeking lifestyles, as long as they are not directly endangering the lives of themselves or others, which they surely are not. The government’s order to shelter in place, then, is a policy - a policy adopted by many countries [but not all] with the stated objective of “flattening the curve,” i.e. to strategically keep the daily numbers of disease cases at a manageable level for medical providers. A state, by limiting the exposure of its citizens to spending most of their time sheltering in place, and keeping their interaction and getting together to a minimum, attempts to slow down the spread of the virus.

To this end, the government has chosen to limit certain activities and allow others, by deeming them essential, in order to curb the numbers and statistically minimize the said exposure, as mentioned.

Whether or not this policy is valid is not the point of my letter of objection. Flattening the curve may very well be a laudable and worthy objective. I object, however, to the government’s deeming the essentials of Judasim as non-essentials to the lives of Americans. These judgements are no less than an attack on religion!

I object to not only the decrees of the government, but sadly, to your stance, as the rabbonim of Crown Heights, who not only agree to the government’s policy of banning organized religion, but wildly going “beyond the letter of the law” by prohibiting outdoor minyanim even for ten Jews who have already contacted and recovered from the disease! And even if they respect “social-distancing” laws, wear masks and stand at a six-feet distance! And even now, when Crown Heights has already achieved “herd immunity” from the virus according to most medical experts!

However humane and praiseworthy it may seem, the policy of flattening the curve does not account for sufficient Halachic grounds to shut down yeshivos and stop all Jews from praying with a quorum, G-d forbid. You have provided no evidence to prove otherwise, for there are simply no Halachic sources to support your outlandish position.

Alas, since the government’s “flattening the curve” policy, with the rabbonim’s approval, has prioritized and defined essentials and non-essentials of all Americans, and has unfairly rendered Jewish prayer and study as non-essential and hence legally forbidden, the said guidelines fall under the category of governmental decrees against faith!

Lubavitch behind the Iron Curtain has a long history of standing up against such decrees even while the rest of the world sat idly by. When the Soviet dictatorship closed all private schools, religious and otherwise, and shut down all houses of worship, Jewish or otherwise, they never officially targeted the Jewish People. As such, there was no religious obligation to disobey its edicts, for one could practice Judaism in his own home - with the government’s blessings. The Frierdiker Rebbe’s mesiras nefesh, as it were, was not indicated halachically, as per Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah siman 157). Nevertheless, with tremendous determination and selfless devotion, he worked tirelessly to keep underground schools open, since “hasha’ah tzricha l’kach” (Ibid, the Rama in s’if alef) - he needed to keep Judaism alive. Neither government policies nor “health concerns” could stop Lubavitch’s insistence on keeping yeshivos open. When a typhus outbreak spread like wildfire across Russia, and took the lives of many of the members of the Jewish community, Tomchei Tmimim remained open.

While you, esteemed rabbonim, apparently feel that the yeshivas and shuls being open is a threat to human life, Judasim feels otherwise. Tefila bitzibur and limud hatorah, b’asara davka, is in fact the raison d'être for the world’s existence, and will only increase our lives and lengthen our days - ki heim chayeinu v’orech yameinu!

As such, I respectfully voice my objection to the reckless and indefensible decrees made by you, the religious leaders of our community. I object to your ongoing silence as the government targets our faith, restricts that which is essential to the kiyum of our people, and in fact has recklessly endangered our lives and the lives of all our coreligionists [2], by crushing our spirit and demoralizing our communities, brazenly closing our houses of worship and study, the conduit for G-d’s presence in this world.

We need our yeshivos, chadorim, mesivtas, and shuls opened.


Hasha’ah tzricha l’kach.

With hope for an immediate change, and a complete and immediate recovery to all coronavirus patients,


Rabbi Daniel Green,
a resident of Crown Heights


[1] Yirmiyahu 6:11.
[2] Can it be that the unprecedented shutdown of tefila b’tzibur, limud haTorah of tinokos shel beis rabban, etc., explain the uncanny and disproportionate number of casualties, r”l, in New York state, home to most of the nation’s shuls and yeshivas? Hashem yiracheim. We surely need the merit of these essentials to our faith now more than ever.

About the author:
Rabbi Daniel Green is an educator, author, and scholar of Judaic Law. He resides with his family in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. 

All comments are subject to moderation, as I do not allow spam or other undesirable filth that is sadly prevalent on Crown Heights tabloid sites. All anonymous comments are deleted, as are comments that contain ad hominem or name-calling to any particular rabbi or person in the community. There has been overwhelming response to this post, mostly positive, but most of these comments referred to a rabbi of CH by name, so they were deleted. For all named and respectful comments, please note that the author, Rabbi Daniel Green, does not have access to this blog site, so comments will be emailed to him for prior review. Hence the delay.
One last note: in response to individuals who have asked me about my own position on this matter, I posted a clarification. If your comment is directed toward me or my blog, 'WestboroRabbi' Michoel Green, please leave your comments there.


The Repenting Jewess said...

My sentiments exactly

Kay Kat said...

If ANY people should understand and be sensitive to the early signs of tyranny and persecution, it should be we, the Jews, yet so many are hiding and keeping their heads down. Bravo to this Rabbi for this letter. I hope and pray that more Jews, Rabbis and congregants alike will recognize the blatantly unconstitutional edicts not just on our religious freedom but all the others enumerated in the Bill of Rights which have allowed the Jewish People to flourish in the United States of America.

Unknown said...


Chaim said...

Shalom U'Vracha from Tsfas Ihr HaKodesh. I don't think there has been one day or one Tefilah here where a Minyan did not take place,

Ad Mosai!!!! said...

I felt this way all week long as the government started relaxing the laws and groups of ten or more were gathering around town!!!!
It feels like a golus that i cant take anymore!!!
We need the Bais Hamikdosh now!!!
And of course, in the meantime our shuls!!
Thank you for this important letter...

brian trappler said...

Rabbi Green, of course there is and will not be any informed, robustly supported argument from Rabbis or Epidemiologists claiming to find fault with your maintain contention. And those of us who have reviewed the contents of Agenda 201 already know that COVID-19 has always been a "dry run" for the ultimate implementation on the marriage between the Tech-Giants, Big-Pharma, the WHO, and the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation to prepare the world for a War on World Population Growth for Carbon Emissions, as expressed by the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the Climate Change Summit in 2018. That's when Greta Thunberg, the Autistic darling and puppet of the Left, declared how population control and the War against Global Warming, would be the priority of the New World Order.One should keep in mind that many of the same players participated the same year in "The Global Pandemic Preparedness for Pandemics". Two of the participants were Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci who warned that two surprise epidemics would be unleashed on the world in 2020, at least one of which being a weaponized Coronavirus. What's in play now is massive social conditioning preparation of the population by the same handful of elite globalists to test our compliance with the mandated restrictions on movement, expression of free speech (F/B censorship and mainstream media fear-mongering) of an agenda testing our compliance with central authority. Unfortunately the effective use of Hydroxyquinolone/Zithromax/Vitamin C and Zinc unexpectedly thwarts the lethality of the test pandemic. In order to perpetrate the fear- induced compliance in the absence of an untreatable lethal pathogen, the following interventions were adopted: Doctors reporting success were marginalized and investigated, the drug was banned in various States, Medical Examiners were instructed by public officials to label all deaths as Corona-related, and Corona patients treated or discharged from hospitals were mandated for discharge back into the community, including Nursing Homes. There can be only one explanation: to escalate the viruses mortality rate. That would explain why a Red State like Florida (with a large elderly population) suffered 1/25 the mortality of NY, who's Governor achieved the mortality desired by those who perpetrated the holocaust to justify the draconian restrictions imposed by those medical and governmental officials colluding with the technocrats whose goal from the get-go was to keep all Jewish gatherings (as well as businesses) closed. Because the actual design was to wreak such havoc in the community, that we ourselves would beg for vaccine. Truth be told, the "vaccine" whatever it contains, already exists, and the safety trials are a sham. Because in 1986 vaccines were exempt from litigation injury. Safety Trials (like for M.M.R), were also a sham, since whistleblowers who confessed to manipulation of the C.D.C. data were silenced. The reason the COVID Vaccine will be mandated and dispensed by the military, is because it alters the human genome: Anyone receiving it will no-longer be human.The volunteers, however, will be fine, since they're receiving saline - water. But the point made by Rabbi Green does speak to the willingness of the Jewish Community to forego the crucial psychological and spiritual development of our children by placing them in sterile isolation chambers of the New World Technocracy in blind obedience to those imposters that the community has impowered.

Shia said...

Woman's Mikvah is a different issue. Israel's health department confirmed that when chlorine is at certain level then if it is used 15 minutes apart there is no health risk. The Mikva decided that all preparations must be done at home, as they don't have staff and guidance on cleaning from virus. They use chlorine wipes to wipe all areas touched by person using the Mikva.

Michoel Green said...

Numerous anonymous commenters have asked this question (& comments were deleted due to their anonymity), so I'll address it for them.

"Did you try to contact the beis din privately first? Why would you make this public before attempting that?"

[I am NOT the author, but I will attempt to answer on his behalf]
The author has been routinely ignored by the beis din (or particular members thereof) for months. Every time he'd ring the bell downstairs (in the months prior to the corona shut-down), he was ignored. Numerous attempts were made in the past to reach out to the vocal element within the beis din, and all were ignored. The beis din stopped communicating with me since I questioned their actions when hundred of school children were banned from school last year, and it seems as though the beis din reacted by rejecting my brother's attempts at communication as well, possibly due to confusion between the author and myself [we bear resemblance]. All emails I've sent to the beis din this past year have been either blocked or ignored.
I regret needing to share this sorrowful information, but I felt obliged to do so in order to explain why the author had no choice but to publicly protest these policies.

Please also note: "אין חולקין כבוד לרב במקום שיש חילול השם" -- "We do not accord honor to a rav when there is a desecration of the Divine Name." (See Berachos 19b, Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 242:11

The kovod of the Torah learning of hundreds of thousands of tinokos shel beis rabban (בית רבן דייקא) and the kovod hatzibur of being wrongly withheld from gathering to effect hashroas hashechinah etc., far outweighs the weightiness of kovod haTorah of any rabbi.

Hope that clarifies things.

Dov Bar-Leib said...

Wonderful, but simply no longer true. All minyanim in Eretz Yisrael are back in force. Yes, they are all outdoors, but who cares. It will not be raining here again until late September at the earliest.

So all of those footnotes are nice but meaningless because they seem to exclude the footnotes of our sources explaining why you should be living in Israel and not in America at this time in the Redemptive process (unless you have a RARE REASON to remain there doing shlichut work. Even with that reason, Kiruv should include the instruction to make Aliyah as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

Very sorry its not just about minyanim its also about having shuls open two different things