Chief Rabbi David Lau has suspended a rabbinical judge who serves on the state’s rabbinical courts for conversion for having refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
A spokesman for Lau, who is the president of the Supreme Rabbinical Court, said that he believes all rabbinical judges have an obligation to get vaccinated and that “a judge who does not get vaccinated will not be able to serve in his position and endanger those who come to the court, as far as is legally possible.”
The spokesman declined to answer whether such a step is permitted under Israeli law as it currently stands.
On Monday, Lau issued a statement saying it is forbidden to refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 unless following specific instructions from a doctor not to do so.
“It is forbidden for a person to damage his own body and all the more so that of someone else,” wrote Lau.
He said that the dangers of COVID-19 are a verifiable fact and that any dangers inherent in the vaccine are uncertain, and that it is, therefore, an obligation to get vaccinated.
“Someone who does not get vaccinated is not only likely to harm himself but is also likely to harm someone else,” continued the rabbi, adding that protecting one’s health allows people to “fulfil our obligations in a world of significance.”
Lau said that the injunction in the Torah to “protect your lives greatly” includes an obligation to avail oneself of preventative medical measures “which the vaccination helps with.”
The chief rabbi concluded, “Someone who does not fulfill this command rejects the good that God granted his world by giving us the possibility of getting out of the distress caused by the coronavirus.”