Israeli Coronavirus Czar Prof. Roni Gamzu met Tuesday with Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef to consult with him on halakhic issues related to the fight against the coronavirus.
After the meeting, the Chief Rabbi and Prof. Gamzu issued a joint statement in which they implored the public to obey the instructions of the Health Ministry and other relevant authorities.
At the beginning of their joint statement, they highlight the health dangers and the need to tighten the guidelines for "dealing with the corona epidemic that has claimed many victims, young and old, healthy and sick."
"Our Torah is the Torah of life, and commands us very strongly to protect our lives, and the Torah also said, and to live by it, and as the sages extrapolated in Tractate Yoma 85:B: and not to die by it," the statement continued.
Rabbi Yosef quoted Maimonides, who wrote: "And it is forbidden to procrastinate in desecrating the Sabbath for a patient who is in danger, as it is said: And a man will do them and live by them, and not that he will die by them." Rabbi Yosef also cited the Tosafists in Tractate Baba Kama, who wrote that a person should be even more careful in not causing harm to others than he would be for himself.
Rabbi Yosef and Prof. Gamzu both declared that it is an obligation to wear a mask in public spaces and inside synagogues, as well as to maintain social distancing and to avoid large crowds.
Regarding people who experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, fever, cough or the loss of smell and taste, the two stated that "it is an absolute obligation for them to be tested and it is strictly forbidden for a person to judge his own condition and endanger others."
"As I have already written in regards to the Health Ministry guidelines, according to the halakha, whoever puts others in danger, it is possible that someone will be murdered by his hand, and he will bear his guilt," Rabbi Yosef said.