[Avodah] Vaccinations, a teshuvah by Rav Asher Weiss

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Mon Apr 15 10:21:04 PDT 2019

The RCA is asking people to share this teshuvah by R Asher Weiss.
R Gil Student posted a translation by R Elli Fischer that was reviewed
and approved by RAW.

See https://www.torahmusings.com/2019/04/is-it-permissible-to-refrain-from-vaccinating-children/

   Many poskim and communal leaders have asked me whether parents are
   obligated to inoculate their children by means of generally accepted
   vaccines in order to prevent terrible diseases, because some important
   rabbanim recently expressed the following opinion: Since there is
   concern that vaccination damages health, not only is it permissible not
   to vaccinate children, but it is even recommended not to vaccinate

   In my humble opinion, this is an error. Rather, parents obviously have
   an obligation to vaccinate their children, and I have ruled that it is
   even permissible for parents to organize themselves in order to force
   educational institutions not to accept unvaccinated pupils. I will
   explain my thinking and my reasoning.

   However, it seems that even if we would say that an individual can
   evade [vaccination] and still claim that he has kept his child safe, it
   would nevertheless stand to reason that there is an obligation to
   vaccinate children, and for two reasons:

    1. I have explained elsewhere that any idea or action that would cause
       damage and injustice if done en masse, even if it would cause no
       harm, injustice, or evil when done by an individual, may
       nevertheless not be done by an individual. It is not just or right
       for an individual to do what the masses may not do. Such a person
       is a villain with license from the Torah ("naval birshus
       ha-Torah"), for due to the honesty of the masses who walk the
       straight path in their innocence, this person will conduct himself
       differently and derive unfair benefit.
       We learn this from the Bavli, the Yerushalmi, and Midrashei Chazal.
    2. It seems that this halakhah can be derived from the obligation of
       all residents of a city to take part in guarding the city and
       repairing its walls, as explained in Bava Basra (8a) and in
       Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 163)...

   This all applies in a case where one can refrain from vaccinating
   his children without risking their health, because enough others do
   vaccinate. The present situation is far more severe, though, and we
   need not resort to creative readings of aggados to determine that
   vaccination of children is obligatory. The disease has broken out
   already, and every parent who refuses to vaccinate his children is
   placing them directly in harm's way.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Strength does not come from winning. Your
micha at aishdas.org        struggles develop your strength When you go
http://www.aishdas.org   through hardship and decide not to surrender,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      that is strength.        - Arnold Schwarzenegger

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