As the prohibition of chanufa is most severe, I begin this letter without honorary salutation so as not to display feelings of affinity or respect for you that I do not harbor.
The promotional video that you appeared in about a year ago in which you urged people to “get vaccinated” with the Covid shots was never befitting Rabbonim. Even leaving aside for the moment the veracity of the message or lack thereof, this is hardly the manner in which Rabbonim should deliver halachic opinions. Never in a million years would Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, and the Chafetz Chaim, to name just a few gedolim and poskim of modern times, have agreed to perform in such a video (and a performance is what it was).
Indeed, delivering trite, scripted messages via a professionally produced and edited video, and passing this off as a serious rabbinic ruling that the public is meant to unquestioningly follow, is simply unprecedented. It makes a mockery of the halachic process – which must be unfailingly honest, thorough, transparent, and subject to the rigorous scrutiny of scholar and layman alike – and reduces it to mere sound bites.
Everything, literally everything, depends on the integrity of the halachic process. The Jewish people have been sustained by this process for three thousand years, and you demolished it in three minutes. That was the most significant accomplishment of your commercial advertisement for Covid shots, in which you served as celebrity endorsers. Were your scripted message for people to take the shots the correct halachic conclusion, the process by which you arrived at and delivered this message could not have been more inappropriate and damaging to the mantle of Torah that you wear.
Not surprisingly, however, your scripted message was not correct. It isn’t now, and it wasn’t then. The carnage caused by these accursed shots, produced and forced upon us by accursed people, can no longer be denied or explained away. The meteoric rise in heart attacks, strokes, cancers, fertility problems, sudden “unexplained” deaths, and numerous other severe health problems that directly correlate to the shots can no longer be brushed aside as mere coincidence, except by the most cynical and corrupt.
Our ancestors stood and watched as the sea split before them, and recognized it as God’s miraculous intervention. There were those who witnessed the same event and scoffed at the lack of scientific evidence. Perhaps the winds blew in just the right way, or perhaps the sea naturally split on extremely rare occasions, and the Jewish people happened to be in the right place at the right time. There are always those who refuse to accept the stark reality staring them in the face. Likewise, there are those who still insist that the shots are “safe and effective”, contrary both to mountains of studies and, no less significant, the reality staring us in the face.
You demanded that people take these shots. You leveraged your authority as rabbis and community leaders, the trust every decent Jew yearns to have in our shepherds, to deliver this “halachic ruling” with no actual substance. By participating in this pharmaceutical advertisement, this charade, you called upon Jews who live by the Torah and fear heaven to take the shots based on their respect for you alone.
That is not how the Torah works. That is certainly not how decisions affecting the physical and spiritual health of the entire Jewish people are to be made.
Surely you knew this, which is why none of you followed up your commercial appearance with a proper halachic teshuva that could be studied, analyzed, and critiqued as per Torah norms. You had every opportunity to do so – and every obligation to do so – yet not one of you has substantiated his scripted message with a proper ruling as befits your station. This is a disgrace to the Torah, to the rabbinic institution, and to the entire Jewish people. There is no excuse, and there can be no excuse.
Furthermore, it was obvious that the videos were sponsored, at least in part, by the government, which would have been reason enough for you to decline to participate. A rabbi must leave no room for suspicion that his halachic rulings are influenced by money, politics, or other outside interference. A rabbi should certainly not collaborate with the government in developing and disseminating his halachic rulings.
But it gets worse. To no surprise, recent investigative work has discovered that funding for this propaganda campaign derived from the Open Society Foundations – none other than George Soros. I should not need to elaborate on the significance of this. You might as well work for Amalek.
The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva 3:6 lists twenty-four types of people who “have no share in the world to come, but are cut off, lost, and judged for their great wickedness and sins forever and ever.”
One of these is מחטיאי הרבים, those who cause the public to sin. As the Rambam writes in 3:10, it makes no difference whether one causes the public to transgress a great sin, such as idolatry, or even a lighter matter, such as canceling a positive commandment. This includes misleading the people until they sin or forcing them to sin.
You have caused the public to violate numerous sins, as I outlined in my article Wholesale Sinners, and you caused them to cancel countless positive commandments by supporting the closures of shuls, yeshivos, and cancellation of normative Jewish life at the unscientific whims of heretical “health officials”.
Another type the Rambam lists is mosrim, those who hand over their fellow Jews to goyim to be harmed or killed, or their money to goyim or criminals (3:12). You have done precisely that, under the false pretense of protecting their lives.
You might want to review what the Rambam writes about mosrim in Chovel Umazik 8:9-11 and Eidus 11:10, the Rivash Siman 79, and the Margaliyos Hayam on Sanhedrin 46A:6-7, to name just a few sources. I am not a posek, nor am I advocating violence or for anyone to take the law into their own hands, but these sources should make your hair stand on edge. There is a Judge and there is Justice.
Another type the Rambam lists is מטילי אימה על הציבור שלא לשם שמים, those who inflict fear upon the public not for the sake of heaven (3:13). “Unvaccinated people died. Died!” You did nothing but terrorize people into taking shots and viewing all social interaction as a lethal danger. You did not do this for the sake of heaven. You did it for your own benefit and to suit the agenda of those at war with Hashem.
None of this is a stretch. You represent three types of people who lose their share in the world to come, and get punished forever.
The Rambam concludes this frightening chapter with a hopeful message. Even the worst of sinners have the opportunity to do teshuva, in which case they reclaim a share in the world to come. Furthermore, the community accepts repentant sinners – even those who committed grave sins – back into the fold.
It is impossible for you to fully rectify the harm that you have caused. Those who lost their lives due to the shots cannot be brought back to life; those who suffered serious harm will not be cured by your repentance; those who suffered economic devastation, estrangement from family, friends, and community might not recover what they lost.
However, it is still incumbent upon you to repent for your actions and rectify the damage to the best of your ability. Yehoshua bin Nun implored Achan to repent before his execution, even though he would still be put to death. Achan’s repentance brought honor to the Jewish people and salvaged his own soul in the next world. This is the same opportunity and responsibility that is before you.
I recommend the following plan of action for your teshuva process. This is the minimum that would be acceptable; the more you add to this, the better.
1) Issue a video-recorded confession of your sins and distribute it via the same public channels as your original video.
2) Express sincere remorse and ask the entire tzibur for forgiveness.
3) If you know individuals who were harmed by your “ruling”, do teshuva to them personally, in accordance with the halacha.
4) Publicly disclose everything you know about the propaganda campaign targeting your community, the individuals and entities involved, their tactics – everything. As the people near the top of this chain are extremely sinister, you may well be endangering your life by betraying them. Nevertheless, this is a step you must take to rectify the damage you caused. If you pay with your life because of this, your death will be an atonement.
5) Publicly disclose any compensation you received directly or indirectly through your institutions for collaborating with this campaign. Dedicate this sum toward rectifying the damage you caused, such as by spreading the truth and assisting victims of the shots.
6) Step down from any positions of leadership in the community, and, if you are accepted back into the fold, refrain from retaking such positions in the future.
I sincerely hope that you will follow in the positive example of Achan and mend your ways while you still have the chance. As much damage as you caused, true repentance will bring tremendous healing to the community and deliver a serious blow to our enemies. It will also salvage your share in the world to come and spare you punishment that is beyond anything we can imagine.
Is that not worth the shame and material dangers of coming clean?
We have lost a great deal, but there is still so much that can be saved. Be brave now and do the right thing.
Baltimore rabbis who performed in the video:
Ori Moshe Millrod
Yaakov Hopfer (He appeared in a separate government-affiliated video here, in which he conveniently failed to acknowledge the reality that people don’t want to take vaccines because of the serious potential dangers involved. All he could surmise was motzi shem rah that they are selfish or gamblers who enjoy living on the edge, at the expense of others.)
Five Towns Rabbis who performed in the video:
Yitzchok Dovid Frankel
Rabbi Chananya Weissman is the author of hundreds of articles and seven books on a wide range of subjects. He is also the director and producer of a documentary, Single Jewish Male, and a series of short films. His work can be found at chananyaweissman.com and rumble.com/c/c-782463. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.