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:
Social Distancing during Epidemics Has Ample Precedent in Rabbinic Law
Israel Has Dodged a Constitutional Crisis, but Only Temporarily
Two weeks ago, then-Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein refused to hold a vote for his replacement, insisting that, in keeping with precedent, the new speaker should only be chosen after a governing coalition has been formed. As his move prevented the newly installed Israeli parliament from resuming its normal business, the Supreme Court tried to break the impasse with two unprecedented interventions into the legislative branch. To Evelyn Gordon, Edelstein acted out of a “genuine and serious concern” about constitutionally questionable moves by his opponents, even if the court was justified in its order that elections for the new speaker take place.