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

Israel Has Dodged a Constitutional Crisis, but Only Temporarily

April 3 2020

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.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli politics, Israeli Supreme Court, Knesset