Five Towns/Far Rockaway Rabbis Issue Their Ruling on Minyanim


NEW YORK (Rabbi Yair Hoffman for — Enclosed is a letter from the Rabbis of the Five Towns/Far Rockaway community that is a result of a meeting that occurred this week.

It should be noted that in another letter from Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita – to be posted soon, he writes regarding all Chutz La’Aretz communities that they MUST LISTEN to their local Rabbonim.  Hopefully this will be posted soon!


To reach the author contact [email protected]


Rosh Chodesh I’yar 5780, 15 B’Omer / April 24, 2020

Lichvod the Wonderful Members of our Far Rockaway and Five Towns Community שיחיו,

We sincerely hope that this letter finds you all managing well under the current difficult circumstances, and we daven continuously that HaKB”H send all Acheinu B’nei Yisroel the refuos, nechamos, and yeshuos for which we all so truly yearn.

There has recently been much discussion regarding the loosening of social distancing restrictions. We would like to specifically address herein the numerous calls and requests that have been presented to all our community Rabbanim regarding outdoor Minyanim.

Many individuals have been asking Rabbanim to demonstrate leadership by issuing clear guidelines for the establishment of safe outdoor Minyanim. We all understand that Tefilla Bi’Tzibbur is a crucial imperative for Klal Yisroel, especially in a time of crisis, and that davening together could provide us the זכויות and the connection that we so desperately need. People are requesting that Rabbanim, in conjunction with medical professionals, create guidelines for safe and legal Minyanim in our neighborhoods, with all participants wearing masks at safe distances, perhaps on separate properties, with safeguards in place to ensure that there is no significant risk.

We, the undersigned Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshivos, after much thought and careful consideration, feel obligated to communicate- in unequivocal terms- our united decision to reinforce our previous mandate, and bid our community against the creation of any Minyanim, as well as to cease unauthorized Minyanim. This includes porches, front-/backyard, Minyanim– with no exceptions whatsoever. We will continue to reassess and reanalyze this decision on a regular and ongoing basis as new developments unfold.

Pikuach Nefesh is the greatest imperative in the Torah, and overrides almost any other Mitzva. Although on an individual level it may be possible to safeguard against risk, it is impossible to allow the establishment of Minyanim across a community without also accepting the unavoidable violations of safety guidelines and inadvertent health risks that will inevitably result (especially with hundreds davening three times a day, every day). כל המקיים נפש אחת מישראל…כאילו קיים עולם מלא– סנהדרין לז. Easing the prohibition would be, at the very minimum, a Sa’fek Pi’kuach Nefesh that could endanger participants, and could increase the likelihood of illness and loss of life in our community, chalila vi’chas. And this simply cannot be allowed. At this point in time, this overarching principle is docheh the imperatives of Tefilla B’tzibbur, Aveilim reciting Kaddish, and many other Halachos. We call upon each and every member of our community to adhere to the safeguards that are essential for the protection of us all. Let us do our absolute utmost in following the Torah’s mandate of ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם.

Our responsibility to be proactive and vigilant against any possibility of health risk and sakanah extends to far more than just Minyanim. It should be obvious that if we have taken this extraordinary step of temporarily being mi’vatel Tefilla B’Tzibbur in order to save lives, we most certainly must be extra cautious when shopping and engaging in any other activity outside the home. We strongly urge our community to not only adhere scrupulously to all laws and protocols regarding social distancing, but also to exhibit extra zehirus and care to stay within your homes, and to limit any outside social interactions- even while wearing masks- to only that which is extremely important, absolutely necessary, and truly unavoidable. This includes avoiding trips into restaurants and other situations of potential exposure that are not truly essential.

We know that current conditions have been extremely difficult. We truly commiserate and are in constant deliberation how best to make the matzav more bearable. Please take comfort in the fact that, B’Ezras Hashem, your admirable efforts and sacrifices have made a dramatic difference: you have saved, and will IY”H continue to save, countless lives.

Yi’yasher Ko’chachem for all your tremendous concern, patience, and understanding. !חזק חזק ונתחזק

We will get through this crisis together as a unified community, with abundant Siyata Dishmaya each and every day IY”H. Let us continue to give the Ribbono Shel Olam נחת רוח in carrying out Ratzon Hashem at this time, and merit to emerge from this crisis stronger and better than ever before.

With boundless love, profound care and concern, and sincere admiration for this incredible and special community,

56 Roshei Yeshivos and Rabbanim in the Five Towns/Far Rockaway/Bayswater Community- in alphabetical order:

R’ Shalom Axelrod

R’ Yaakov Bender

R’ Dovid Bender

R’ Hershel Billet

R’ Yisroel Meir Blumenkrantz

R’ Meyer Bodner

R’ Simcha Bondi

R’ Meir Braunstein

R’ Dov Bressler

R’ Moshe Brown

R’ Pinchas Chatzinoff

R’ Shaul Chill

R’ Ariel Edelstein

R’ Menachem Feifer

R’ Aaron Feigenbaum

R’ Eytan Feiner

R’ Yaakov Feitman

R’ Eliezer Feuer

R’ Tzvi Flaum

R’ Binyamin Forst

R’ Yitzchok Frankel

R’ Aryeh Zev Ginzberg* (per his family as a zchus)

R’ Daniel Glatstein

R’ Dr. Aaron Glatt

R’ Nosson Greenberg

R’ Kenneth Hain

R’ Simcha Hopkovitz

R’ Yaakov Horowitz

R’ Naftali Jaeger

R’ Yudi Jeger

R’ Muttel Katz

R’ Moshe Zev Katzenstein

R’ Aryeh Lebowitz

R’ Simcha Lefkowitz

R’ Yoni Levin

R’ Avi Miller

R’ Motti Neuburger

R’ Uri Orlian

R’ Yechiel Yitzchok Perr

R’ Ephraim Polakoff

R’ Zvi Ralbag

R’ Isaac Rice

R’ Elysha Sandler

R’ Shay Schachter

R’ Yehuda Septimus

R’ Aaron Stein

R’ Asher Stern

R’ Mordechai Stern

R’ Moshe Teitelbaum

R’ Yaakov Trump

R’ Shmaryahu Weinberg

R’ Moshe Weinberger

R’ Pinchus Weinberger

R’ Akiva Willig

R’ Eliyahu Wolf

R’ Zalman Wolowik

R’ Mordechai Yaffe

As a P.S.

We must all do our absolute utmost– especially at this critical time, in the midst of a true “eis tzara“– to avoid any machlokes or strife in our community. One may certainly report an unauthorized Minyan to his Rav, but he should not engage in any negative behavior, malicious activity, threats, or machlokes of any kind. Let us work together to be marbeh Kevod Shamayimbi’shalom each and every day.

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  1. I see R’ Aryeh Zev Ginzberg’s name on the list. Not related to the article, but does anyone have an update on the Ravs condition? The last news I saw early this month was that The Rav needs a major Refuah. Has there been any change in the Ravs condition? Should we still be davening for the Ravs refuah?

    • Update from Tuesday of Chol Hamoed:
      Boruch Hashem, the Rav was taken off the ventilator yesterday and now has had K”H over 24hrs off the ventilator (on oxegyn). While there is still a long and difficult way to go and the doctors still classify his condition as critical, we must recognize the tremendous Chessed Hashem in getting to this point.

      A non-jewish doctor who was involved in the Rav’s care sent a text message a few minutes ago to R’ Boruch Ber Bender saying, “This is a modern day miracle, please don’t underestimate the power of prayer of your community”.

      Now is not the time to become complacent, if this non-jewish doctor can recognize that it is only tefilah that brought us here, we certainly must realize this. We need to use this realization to fuel our commitment to continued tefilah and not stop davening until the Rav is zoche to a COMPLETE refuah.

  2. Rabbi Horowitz and VIN won’t stop posting about rabbi’s banning minyanim, and that’s fine as every rabbi has the right to pasken as he sees fit, but the attitude that everybody has to follow those specific rabbonim is outrageous, nobody in Williamsburg or in boro Park is obligated to follow the rabbonim in five towns opinions, Rabbi Horowitz which always preaches about peace and love and to diminish machlokes, what happened that now nobody can have a different opinion than him, any Rav that doesn’t go along with his line of thought becomes a rotzaiach or rodef, rabbi yechezkel Roth who is considered one of the biggest poskim says you should daven with a minyan and do many rabbonim, why suddenly all this hate and no difference of opinion? Rabbi Horowitz knows that he differs in many things with rabbonim, and it’s being respected, now suddenly nobody can disagree with him?!

  3. Now that is the way it is supposed to be done. Daas torah, unity. Not with some random doctor coming out and screaming that your all cowards for davening with a minyan. All the best.

    • There are far rockaway rabbis not on list that are mkaing a minyan. Its not unity. But doesbn’t have to be bitter with an angry DR. And i respect those that chose to follow their rav.

  4. I send this message to you as a Hatzolah member for 25 years. Every neighborhood in NYC should get together and send out the same message. People think things are over and better and they are becoming lax. Now more then ever is the time to be vigilant or all of the deaths we have experienced will have been for nothing. Good Shabbos to all and be same and healthy.

  5. No no no. One that davens in a legal safe backyard minyan on private property is a rodef and rotziach and deserves a missa mishuneh. And then we wonder why the goyim hate us!

  6. There is no unity, there are alot of rabbis that didn’t sign and even the ones that have their name down didn’t agree (r ginzburg for 1 didn’t sign and I personal know of a few more) mashiach can come all the politics stop and the rabbis can talk for their own congregation and not put pressure on others to follow in their path

    • obviously a man in lkwd or boro park can and should follow his rav/posek and is not obligated to follow this letter – but at least for far rockway and five towns they have this letter to follow and it was done with unity and the right way. That’s it. And for some random doctor to come out screaming at everyone is foolish and inappropriate. That’s all I was trying to say. All the best.

  7. I feel bad for that doctor, when he called the minyanim in lakewood cowards and no one should be mishadich with them, he meant well, but unfortunately was misinformed. The lay out of our housing complexes where every house has thier own deck in the back, as well as decks from the houses around the corner, gave us the legal right, according to our poskim as well, to daven, as long as each family remained on thier own porch. There was no breach of social distancing what so ever, but he meant well, and we shower the Dr. With our blessings and best wishes (and of course we didn’t have any kiddush)

    • Well said. I’ll add that the DR is on the front lines and its just frightening and scary to see so many frum yidden perish. Mentally you run to the other extreme. I’d be the same way. The DR is a tzadik and so are the rabbis that allow porch minyan.

    • There is Lakewood with 6×6 decks, touching the next one and stacked on top of each other; then there is Lakewood with each house on a 1 acre plot and at least 200 feet between the houses. Similar in Monsey. Likewise in Brooklyn not all the streets are the same, and I presume similar in 5 towns. Its not that there is no one size fits all therefore Rabbonim ban all minyonim; but there is so much more at stake here. Real lives. Life & death situation.
      Its really amazing that there are people coming out against the Rabbonim at a time like this, that they want to daven with a minyan so bad, even though it is against the psak. I’m not sure if its a real ahavas hamitzvos, or maybe its just that they like to go lehephech the Rabbonim. But like Rabbi Hoffman ends off, each should follow his Rov. If you dont have a Rov that you follow, maybe now is time to pick one.

    • No the Doctor full of chutzpa and hubris, he is extremely arrogant and intolerant of other peoples opinions, there is a large number of people who don’t want to shower him with blessing rather they would boycott anything affiliated with him.

  8. It’s so unfortunate that the Klal can’t be trusted to carry out minyonim with proper distancing etc. which is causing the rabbonim to come out and ban all minyonim even porch and outdoor social distancing minyonim.
    May the tefilos of yechidim be evelated to those of a tzibur and may Hashem bring us all personal and collective yeshuvos bizchus us listening to our rabbonim.

    • The porches, if distanced, are fine…there are others from the street coming into the back yards of these homes to daven. They schmooze like nothing is going on. They do not distance. They do no wear masks. They do not care that people have their porches, bedrooms, etc. under the areas they daven. They can daven quietly so others are not disturbed. There is a mentality “I’m davening so I can do as I please”. I think the Far Rockaway Rabbonim are right! People do NOT adhere to the basic rules of distancing and safety during these difficult times.

      • “The porches,if distanced are fine…” Rikki overrides all poskim. Mazel Tov. Do you put on Rabenu Taam Tfilin or only Rashi Rikki? Are you one of the Woman off the Wall?

  9. I can’t believe I’m watching many people go into the mikvah now, here in b. P. don’t they realize there are some aini yehudys that live on the block as well?

  10. Just wondering why everybody is sooo busy screaming about the minyunim and all other devurim shabikdusha and nobody mentions a word about the supermarkets (people standing on line and not keeping to social distances) the pizza shops on motzie Y’T and so on. Is it the lack of social distance that bothers them? Or perhaps the davening with minyan??

    • BH the same Lakewood crowd who permitted porch minyan came up with an innovation to avoid almost ever walking into a grocery store. They came out with “the box”. You can purchase grocery items pre pacakaged in a box. walking into stores are no longer essential. I don’t see other towns who banned minyan and are so concerned about safety take any initiative like this.

      Lets remind everyone that grocery stores, have thin isles and long lines. Furthermore, you will touch what the last guy touched. None of that happens on my porch davening

    • Just wondering why some people make this such a big issue. You have to Daven at Sunrise. Not with a Minyan. What is the problem. Its a clear rule in Shulchan Aruch. Daven with Netz. The Few people who daven with Netz and a Minyan have a point. This BP,Monsey,Lakewood etc Leidig geirs with their tfilin @ 9-10 in the morning dont care about the Shulchan Aruch at all all year around.

      • get real….

        .. the doctor sees many more severe cases than you would see in 3 three lifetimes the doctor is only well meaning for your benefit you may not have to agree with him but you ought to be more respectful how you disagree with

      • get real….

        .. the doctor sees many more severe cases than you would see in 3 three lifetimes the doctor is only well meaning for your benefit you may not have to agree with him but you ought to be more respectful how you disagree with him

        • Maybe in my dreams. I ain’t getting up for neitz. Why should I? I lost my job, must stay indoors, starting to get mild depression. What is my motivation to get out of bed bichllal? On my block, there are a bunch of stiffs. Nobody wants to make a backyard minyan. My neighbors are scared of snitchers.

        • Jihad, That doctor is a Pediatrician sees nothing of that in his practice, he is a rabble rouser and the day he show respect to others is the day I will show respect to him

      • Because it’s not about the hlacha part . That’s a narrow outlook on
        Life . It’s about the kedusha you get and what you accomplish from a minyan

    • It’s the exact opposite – pumpt farkehrt. If the legal speed limit on a highway is 60 mph, and many are driving at 100 mph, it’s therefore ok that I should also join the speeders ever though it’s dangerous and illegal?

      • One should always maintain the speed of the drivers around him. Otherwise the slower driver can cause an accident by having someone rear-end him. Also, by speeding, one helps his State raise much needed revenue by receiving a speeding ticket from a friendly cheery police officer.

  11. By the way, that’s alef bais.. If people are disturbing others from thier davening.. That’s a whole different animal. People need seichel, to realize thier not the only ones in the world. Same is if you doubt park and shter all other drivers because your ran into a Minyan, bishvili nivra holam, my rebbi reb nosson tzvi finkle used to cry out always “Mir daft trachtin vegin yenem”

  12. As long as everyone realizes each rov paskens for his community. In GA they may have minyanim with social distancing in place for shabbos but it would not be appropriate for a rov in NYC which is TOTALLY nuts to assur it there.
    We arent 1 size fits all.

  13. Yes,

    fellow yiden, please limit your going to grocery to only once a week and if possible please order by phone or online.

    And when you do go to the grocery please be careful to wear your mask & gloves at all times.
    try not to touch any items but the ones you’re buying

    And of course don’t go shopping for things that’s possible to do without, without endangering your life.

    If we don’t daven with minyen we should at least provide the same due diligence to materialistic matters.
    just for the sake of giving kuvod to Hashem (besides saving lives)

  14. A true nicely written letter and they have a good point too. ( my rabbi thinks likewise)

    But I respect The Rabbis who have a different view as well. And I respect their view too. (that outside minyen is ok as long you observe socia….)

  15. Take yourself back to Rosh Hashona & Yom Kippur; Could you have imagined that there would be a time when the Rabbonim would say not to go out to Daven with a Minyan, but the people would not listen and still go out, putting themselves (and others) in a sakonas nefoshos to go and daven with a minyan!
    Olam hafoch!

  16. “Everybody is so busy…Dvorim sebkdusha.. Maybe in normal times, today is Dvorim Asurim by the Rabbonim. Supermarkets were not asured by any of the Rabbonim above. Any more questions? Just maybe Hashem closed down the Minyonem , Mikveh etc for a reason and not supermarkets. The loshan Hore,(men and Woman) what goes on in many Shuls is a good reason to close them. I never heard a single Loson Hore at Walmart.

  17. I will just follow my Rabbis. Rabbi Dr Joseph Karo and Rabbi Dr Moses Issrelis. And what do they say? …drumbeat… You should daven with a minyan!!! No, it is not a choice of minyan or sakonas nefoshos, chas vesholom. With reasonable efforts, a safe social distancing minyan can be set up in every backyard. Another news: you can walk and chew gum at the same time.

    • This is what Rabbis Karo and Isserlis say: stay alive. Don’t endanger life. The social distancing rules are no guarantee of safety; they are stopgap measures in the face of absolute necessity. The virus doesn’t respect or know about social distancing.

  18. Agreed. EVERYONE should follow their rabbi/posek…whoever they usually follow. There is absolutely no need for any machloksim on the matter. If ur rav says daven with a minyan with the proper guidelines – than do so, and if he says don’t – than don’t do so. Its that simple. For a doctor to come out screaming about it – I don’t give a flip about his emotional feelings on the matter – is totally out of place and wrong. They are not daas torah. Period. Follow ur rabbi/posek. And live and let live. All the best.

  19. Anonymous..just wondering if you say the morning service with the sunrise or you just giving out free advice and bashing a whole Community such as Lakewood and monsey. I am also wondering if you are studying the talmud as much as the what you called leidigaiers in lakewood.i I am also wondering since you are proficient in the code of Jewish law what exactly does the Jewish laWs say pertaining to one that Slanders an entire Community such as Lakewood or monsey
    ???. Since in reality you are an ignorant I will tell you it says they can never obtain forgiveness unless they ask forgiveness of each and every person good luck kid

  20. My comment is not about minyan, rabbis, doctors or mikvehs.
    I am aghast and hurt at all the rude and shameful and gratuitous insults!!!
    Rule of thumb; if u need to use insults or to raise your voice then ur argument is deficient.
    And if you use it gratuitously then your character is deficient.
    What ever happened to mentch-lech-kiet?!!!!!!

  21. My comment is not about minyan, rabbis, doctors or mikvehs.
    I am aghast and hurt at all the rude and shameful and gratuitous insults!!!
    Rule of thumb; if u need to use insults or to raise your voice then ur argument is deficient.
    And if you use it gratuitously then your character is deficient.
    What ever happened to mentch-lech-kiet?!!!!!!!

    • This is not a matter of anything rude or shameful…its just a matter of putting things in perspective. A doctor is NOT daas torah NO MATTER what the situation is no matter how much he/she holds what he/she holds. Its not a matter of minyan/mikveh/supermarket…its a matter of whats right and wrong. All the best.

  22. Why don’t we have present day gedolim who are also doctors?? Wasn’t the RAMBAM a doctor as well? And he was the personal physician to the court of Saladin. King Richard the Lionhearted of England even wanted him to be his personal physician but he declined. Now more than ever, we need gedolim who are trained doctors as well.

  23. Let us see a letter about housekeepers Bs nanny’s. How many rabbis on the list have cancelled their help and encouraged their communities to do the same and clean their houses.


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