Senior Medical Advisor Warns: Don’t Learn In Shuls On Shavuos Night

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JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Rabbi Shimon Ragovey, a senior medical advisor to the Chareidi sector in Israel, warned against opening shuls and stated that it could be dangerous especially on Shavuos night.

In an interview with Kikar Hashabat, Rabbi Ragovey said that “Shavuos night holds a much more potent danger since it involved a very large meeting of a group of people for many hours and I am very concerned that even if the regulations are kept in shuls, the danger on Shavuos is still existent.”

Rabbi Ragovey cited the example of South Korea which was very successful in containing COVID-19 but a week and a half ago in one night a sick person infected hundreds of people which led to a second outbreak there.

Rabbi Ragovey recommends studying in courtyards, homes or porches on Shavuos night despite the difficulty involved. “I understand the difficulty for the public because I myself grew up and studied in Yeshivas, but life comes first.”

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29 COMMENTS

  1. I think this is a fair statement. Sitting in a packed room all night makes for a breeding ground for infection. It’s a wonderful and beautiful concept but right now it’s not minyan so there isn’t any reason for Jews to feel they must do that anyways.

  2. Please, I do not want to be labeled anything negative.
    I will state that the current style of learning in close contact and facing the chavrusa has been implicated before in outbreaks in frum communities. This makes Shavuos learning a greater risk than Davening. If this is correct, a lecture style with some spacing is less of a concern.
    I will also implore that if somebody is not feeling well, stay home. Evenif it is not Covid19, you really do not want to make people sick.
    i am a bit older and on Succos some guest in my Shul had a miserable sneezing cold and by coincidence I came down with similar symptoms three days later, (This Shul has seating so I was sneezed on directly face to face.) I was sick on and off for months and missed many times davening for the first time in years.

  3. I agree with Anon. We’re not talking about minyan or any חיוב. It’s a מנהג. Some shuls here in EY which opened up for the first time last שבת found that even with the restrictions in the אולם תפילה the hallways and lobbies were problematic. So if they can’t iron out those issues by יום טוב I think most people who learn at home and come to shul at נץ.
    I do not agree with Jack, but since he himself can not come up with a reason for his opinion, I’ll let it go as that.

  4. There is now a lot of evidence that coronavirus is airborne. In unventilated rooms the virus can float in the air for hours. The longer a person spends in an unventilated room the more likely one will catch the virus, even if the infected person is on the other side of the room.

    There is a well-known case of a choir practice in Washington state, where people practised for 2 hours. 1 person infected about 90% of the room. Just the singing was enough to spread the virus throughout the room.
    Therefore the Medical professional is correct.

    Learning in shul on Shavous night is dangerous, as 1 asymptomatic person can infect the entire room. The longer one spends in such a situation the more likely one will catch an airborne virus.

  5. Can all these self haters please get a Job – It became a full time job for those that have a Guilty conscience since they probably don’t care about praying with minyen or for that matter it irks them that people enjoy learning together in shul.
    Please stop telling US WHAT TO DO!

  6. Same goes for being in an airplane.

    So all of you who are traveling to Israel being in a stuffed airplane like sardines for twelve hours with zero social distance should be very careful. Stay home and do not travel.

  7. @ not Maven
    Your comparison to an airplane may not be valid.To be candid, I am not ready to go through an airport and get on a plane. Nevertheless, I am obligated to state that the experts do see differences between sitting in shul and sitting in an airplane. passenger aircraft of the type that we fly have massive ventilation and filtration systems that are much more effective than anything in most shuls.

    • Tachlis: I don’t fly to make friends on the plane. I don’t wander the aisle mid-flight to chat up other passengers. But I’ve never seen baalei batim spend an evening in beis medrash without socializing during the breaks.

  8. The bottom line is the following: if you are going to pick and choose which Rabbonim you listen to (if any) nobody can really stop you. But if you engage in risky behavior that you were warned against and infect yourself and others, and someone dies as a result, you’d better be ready to face the achreis for your arrogance.

      • An interesting statement.

        Exactly what are your credentials to criticize Rabbi Billet, other than having an opinion and access to the internet?

        Oh, and before you say anything, I do not daven at the YI of Woodmere or any other YI. So I’m not “defending my rov”.

  9. It’s interesting that VIN still didn’t find one so called medical/rabbinical expert that would lessen the fear of the virus. Maybe there isn’t. Who knows

  10. This makes a lot of sense – there is no need to sit in shul to learn all night – you can still learn all night at home – even with a chavrusa, then go to shul for shacharis (if allowed in your town/shul, and following all the regulations). This is what I plan on doing.

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