Jewish children cannot be vaccinated by any of the one million vaccines that arrived on Saturday morning, because the shipment violated Shabbat, a respected rabbi ruled on Saturday night.
The ruling was issued by Rabbi Benjamin Hota, who hosts the popular show Mabat Lashabbat about practical Jewish law on the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) radio station Kol Barama, in which he answers questions from listeners.
Hota has published five books on Jewish law, and his recommendations on how the Israel Electric Company could minimize the desecration of Shabbat were implemented.
Hota ruled that Jews must wait for the next shipment from Pfizer to vaccinate their children, because it is forbidden for them to benefit from work done on Shabbat. They should use only vaccines from a further shipment if it arrives on a weekday, he said.
Because the Sabbath was violated purposely and not accidentally, no benefit can be taken from the desecration forever, said Hota, who added that those who requested the shipment on Shabbat should be fined by Jewish law. He ruled that there was no issue of pikuah nefesh (saving lives) trumping the observance of Shabbat in this case.
The ruling was first revealed on the haredi news website Hamehadesh and distributed by Shas MK Moshe Abutbul, who heads the Knesset Caucus for Preserving the Sabbath.
Abutbul, who has eight children, said people should consult their own rabbi about what to do, but that he was disappointed Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the Health Ministry allowed the Sabbath to be violated.
“With a little sensitivity, they could have made sure the shipment would come on Friday, Saturday night or Sunday, and then Rabbi Hota would not have had to issue such a ruling,” Abutbul said. “Bennett’s government fights everything Jewish, so there were no expectations that it would respect the holy day of the Jewish people. The rabbis call on the public to vaccinate, but the behavior of the government pushes us into a corner.”
Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben-Gvir said that, with all due respect to Hota, he has his own rabbis, and he will vaccinate all his kids.