Let’s Not Allow COVID to Throw Out Our Torah Values

41

by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

Last month, President Joe Biden announced his vaccine mandate plan.  The immediate repercussions according to Check Point Software Technologies, a global cybersecurity company that tracks these things, was that it affected  prices in one particular market, and also the number of vendors.

According to company spokesman Ekram Ahmed, in an interview with Stateline, the typical cost of phony vaccine cards bearing a CDC logo was $100 on Sept. 2. The day after Biden’s Sept. 9 announcement, the price jumped to $200. Vendors of the illegal cards jumped from n estimated 1200 people to over 10,000.

“The growth of the black market for fake vaccination cards has been exponential,” Ahmed said. “Our expectation is that the black market for fake coronavirus vaccination cards will continue to thrive as more policy requiring vaccination proof gets rolled out.”

The legal repercussions are also in.  In New York, the state legislature has passed a bill that would make it a crime to possess or forge phony COVID-19 vaccine cards or digital passports.

It’s also a federal crime to buy, use or sell fraudulent documents that bear a federal agency’s seal. Violators face a fine and up to five years in prison.

These are some of the repercussions of COVID 19.

SISIG

But there is a far greater ill that can, chalilah, affect Klal Yisroel.  The black market has caused some individuals to start consuming spiritual “sisig.”  What is physical sisig?  Here is a description once written by New York Times food columnist Ligaya Mishan.

“Ears, jowls, belly. They come brined, blanched, shattered and fried, each tip blackened and alchemized, each pocket of fat approaching liquefaction. A raw yolk idles on top. Stab it and churn. This is sisig.. arguably the greatest pork dish – on earth.

That’s physical sisig.  Spiritual sisig is a Torah prohibition called “Gneivas Daas.”

The prohibition of Gneivas Daas means fooling or deceiving others in physical practice. The Gemorah in Chullin (94a) cites Shmuel as saying that the prohibition applies to everyone.

The Gemorah in Chulin 94a cites a Braisah which discusses four examples given by the Tanna Rabbi Meir of things that are forbidden on account of the issue of Gneivas Daas.

  • It is forbidden to repeatedly invite someone to a meal when you know that he will refuse
  • It is forbidden to repeatedly offer gifts when you know that he will refuse
  • It is forbidden to appear to up a new barrel of wine (when one is actually opening it for a previous sale) unless one informs him of the real reason he has opened it [the underlying issue is that the wine will not last as long now that the barrel is open and it is a big favor to the guest,]
  • It is forbidden to offer someone oil from an empty flask to anoint oneself when one knows full well that the person will refuse it. If, however, he is offering the oil to show (others – Rashi) his fondness for the person it is permitted.

We see, therefore, that Gneivas Daas is violated even if there is a non-financial deception.

WORSE THAN LYING

In regard to the verse of midvar sheker tirchak stay away from a false matter, there is a three-way debate as to how we understand this pasuk. The Chofetz Chaim rules in his Ahavas Chessed that there is an out and out prohibition to lie. This is in accordance with the view of many Rishonim.

***There is a Bais Yaakov alumnus who, unfortunately, was hit hard financially by COVID.  It would be a huge help and relief to her if we can get her some financial assistance. Below is a Chessed Fund Link. Tizku l’Mitzvos***

https://thechesedfund.com/zechornilah/bygirlhitbypandemic

Other Rishonim hold that the verse is merely good advice, but not halacha. A third opinion holds that it is applicable to judges adjudicating law. Generally speaking, the view of the Chofetz Chaim is normative halacha.

OUT AND OUT PROHIBITION

The prohibition of deceiving, however, is a clear out and out prohibition according to all opinions. According to the Sefer Yereim and the Ritvah it is a biblical prohibition. According to the SMaK the prohibition is derabanan. But all hold that it is a full-blown prohibition.

SIMILAR CASE OF GNEIVAS DAAS

The Mishna in Bava Metzia (59b) tells us that it is forbidden to mix older produce with newer produce and sell them together as one package. This is a parallel to our case, but our case is worse since in the whiskey only the inferior product is being presented. The Gemorah in Bava Metziah 60b has more cases where a seller makes animals and animal skins look newer through artificial means. These too are forbidden on account of Gneivas Daas. While it is true that these cases in Bava Metziah are dealing with a sale, but if we combine this with the Braisah in Chullin then we have a parallel.

Does everyone agree to this? It would seem that it may well be a debate in the Rishonim. The Rashba in Chullin (94a) and the Rosh (Perek 18) hold that if the item is a matana, a gift – there is no prohibition of Gneivas Daas. Tosfos (Chullin 94b DHM “Amar”) and the Ritva (Chullin 94b “Rav Ashi”) hold that it does apply even regarding a free gift. How do we understand the distinction between the cases of the braisah and the free gift according to those authorities who hold that it is not considered Gneivas Daas? It would seem that since the deceiver is giving something to the person – that makes up a bit for the deception.  Here, we do not have that distinction.

A fake vaccine card is clearly a violation of Gneivas Daas – according to normative halacha,

SERIOUS ISSUE

There is a fascinating Shaarei Teshuva (3:181) which states that the leniency of “Mutar l’shanos mipnei haShalom, sometimes it is permitted to tell a white lie to maintain peace” does not apply to Gneivas Daas.  Gneivas Daas is an important and essential value in Torah Judaism. Using false documentation to create wrong impressions, is a serious halachic issue that should not be ignored or trampled upon.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

***There is a Bais Yaakov alumnus who, unfortunately, was hit hard financially by COVID.  It would be a huge help and relief to her if we can get her some financial assistance. Below is a Chessed Fund Link. Tizku l’Mitzvos***

https://thechesedfund.com/zechornilah/bygirlhitbypandemic


Listen to the VINnews podcast on:

iTunes | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Podbean | Amazon

Follow VosIzNeias For Breaking News Updates




41 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments