Upon being administered this vaccine this week, HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Rav of Ramat Elchanan, and a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah publicized a p’sak din halacha after holding a meeting with Prof. Ron Balicer, a member of Israel’s Health Ministry’s advisory team on COVID-19, and other medical experts, on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine.
Asking Yidden to rely on Doctors that have been approved by the government to practice medicine in the absence of a Beis Din of Rabbanim who are oisek in refuah, the Rabbi wrote, “‘Lev Melachim V’Sarim b’Yad Hashem’” [Hashem controls the hearts of world leaders] that since we see that Hakadosh Baruch Hu has instilled in the hearts of many ‘kings and ministers’ to be willing to be the first to be vaccinated, this is a sign that the benefit of the vaccine outweighs the risk.”
His letter continued to read that, “And therefore, these vaccines are considered as if they have the approval of a Beis Din, and therefore we must listen [to the call to be vaccinated], and it’s as if the Beis Din is saying to be vaccinated.”
“And it’s true that there are those who claim that the risk of the coronavirus is not so high and it doesn’t justify the great risk of being vaccinated. These claims can be answered that in order to evaluate if the risk of the coronavirus is high, it’s not enough to only count the number of fatalities but one must also count the number of patients who were dangerously ill and were healed.”
“As it’s explained in the הגהות מיימוניות that regarding eating on Yom Kippur, there’s no need to worry that someone may die from it but if someone is at risk from not eating, then we give him food. And it’s written in the Shulchan Orech that if a choleh needs to eat, if there’s an expert doctor, even if he is not Jewish, who says that if he doesn’t eat he will be at risk, we give him food and there’s no need to say that he might die.”
“And therefore since throughout the world, there were millions of people who became sick and were at risk [of becoming seriously ill], even if they eventually healed, [the coronavirus] is considered an illness that endangered millions of people, and it’s clear that even if the vaccine has some risk, it is like any medication that has some risk.”
“But it’s definite that the risk of the vaccine is not great, unlike the risk of the coronavirus itself. Because if the vaccine was dangerous, the governments wouldn’t allow such a thing – ‘to exchange a cow for a donkey’ [to incur a loss], but are [encouraging vaccines] based on the fact that the risk of the vaccination is much more minimal [than the coronavirus].”
Ending on the note that even though the medication poses some risk, it is after all a measure to end an illness, the Rabbi said, “And if so, then [being vaccinated] is included in what the Torah says ‘רפא ירפא’ that a choleh should take medication for his illness despite the fact that [the medication] has some risk.”