Social Distancing during Epidemics Has Ample Precedent in Rabbinic Law

March 25 2020

In recent weeks, there has been much discussion in synagogues and Jewish communities about how to enforce the measures recommended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which in some locales are being enforced by police. While some rabbis courted controversy by insisting that schools and yeshivas stay open, others have issued rulings unprecedented in their halakhic leniency in order to ensure that religious life can continue without increasing risks of contagion. Jeremy Brown turns to talmudic and medieval writings to see how rabbis responded to plagues in the past:

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Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: Coronavirus, Halakhah, Shulhan Arukh, Talmud

Israeli Sovereignty Would Free Residents of the West Bank from Ottoman Law

To its opponents, the change in the legal status of certain areas of Judea and Samaria is “annexation;” to its proponents, it is the “extension of sovereignty” or the “application of Israeli law.” Naomi Khan argues that the last term best captures the practical implications of the measures in question. Since the Six-Day War, the Jewish state has continued to uphold the Ottoman legal system in areas of the West Bank under its jurisdiction—despite the fact that the Ottoman empire ceased to exist in 1922; “annexation” would end this situation. Setting aside the usual questions of foreign policy, security, and the possibility of Palestinian statehood, Khan argues that this change would be the one most felt by those who live there:

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Read more at JNS

More about: Annexation, Israeli law, Ottoman Empire, Palestinian Authority, West Bank