COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccineiStock

In an address to his chassidim during Hanukkah at the end of last week, reported on Behadrey Haredim, the Sassover Rebbe of Ganei Tikva discussed the coronavirus vaccination campaign that has just begun in Israel, and expressed his concern that the safety of the vaccine has yet to be established.

The Rebbe also mentioned special herbal drops that he described as being especially potent against the coronavirus that are apparently banned in Israel. “I merited to be a partner in the healing of tens of thousands of people when I obtained these drops for them,” he related, “both here and in the United States. I got them to people who were on the verge of taking the crazy step of going to hospital – when it was already known that people who went, never came back – and I begged them to stay at home and take these drops, and they recovered.”

Returning to the topic of the vaccine, the Rebbe said, “Now the doctors want us to use this vaccine. Maybe it’s a good vaccine – I don’t know. But who does know? And when will they know? After the damage is already done? They’re already warning people with allergies not to be vaccinated.”

The Rebbe also mentioned the fact that several haredi social activists have been making the rounds of haredi rabbinic leaders and obtaining their signatures in favor of vaccination. “I don’t want to talk about the activists – after all, they have their own reasons for doing things, and they do lots of good things too. But I will address regular people, and to you, I say that you should take very good care of your health and stay away from this vaccine.”

He also related how, around forty years ago, he had the privilege of discussing a certain medical issue with Rabbi Elyashiv ztz”l, the Torah leader of the generation whose knowledge of medical, technological, and scientific issues that he dealt with was undisputed. “I sat with Rabbi Elyashiv for two hours while we debated a certain drug that was then relatively new on the market. It had been in circulation for a year or two at the time, in many countries, and doctors were promoting it. I remember how Rabbi Elyashiv said, ‘How can we take responsibility for a drug that has only been around for a few years?’”

Incidentally, Rabbi Elyashiv’s position on most childhood vaccinations was that since they were accepted medical practice, parents should see that their children were vaccinated – however, from this anecdote, it would appear that he believed that “medical practice” does not become immediately “accepted” simply because doctors make a decision, but rather that the safety and efficacy of a particular mode of treatment has to be independently established as well.

The Rebbe concluded his speech with words of blessing for all Jews to merit health and long life with spiritual fulfilment.