“We shall not allow them to force us to abide by the instructions of the Coronavirus Cabinet to stay two metres apart from one another and wear masks”. These fighting words were attributed to Rabbi Zion Buaron.
As if that weren’t enough, he is also reported to have warned his co-religionists that “these vaccinations kill people. Doctors attest to the fact that anyone who receives the inoculation is unable to have children”.
Who is Rabbi Buaron? He was until recently a member of the Supreme Rabbinical Court and was a candidate in 2013 to become the Sephardi chief rabbi, or Rishon l’Zion. He is, therefore, hardly an extremist crank but rather a respected figure in the ultra-Orthodox world.
In their society, people see their rabbis as the ultimate authority and they hang on their every word. Given that fact, Buaron would have done well to heed Abtalion’s warning in the Mishna: “Sages, be careful of what you say!” Words can kill.
What makes his remarks particularly intolerable is the fact that 2.3 million Israelis have yet to be vaccinated. Whereas 92.8 percent of the general public aged over 60 have already received the inoculation, the comparable figure in the charedi world is just 67% and they also have a higher infection rate than the public at large.
We have every right to expect people like Buaron, who as president of a rabbinical court receives his salary from the public purse, to set an example.
Speaking about mass gatherings in the charedi world, Prof. Ron Blitzer, head of the Corona Cabinet, said: “First of all, they are putting themselves at risk. We need to strengthen the silent majority and strengthen the leaders who support the restrictions”.