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Dear Editor,

I write this in utter shock and horror after reading, yet again, the sad “Torah opinion” that has been allowed to be peddled on your forum (“Trusting God to Run His World” Dr. Gila Jedwab, June 26).

I will focus on one particularly infuriating section which, as a physician, is nothing less than a sucker-punch to the gut.

“However, with this virus, when it came down to battling an unseen enemy, wouldn’t the more intuitive approach be to let G-d handle this war without our help? We couldn’t even see the enemy this time. Wouldn’t it have been smarter to step aside and say, “G-d, this battle is all You. We can’t even see what we are fighting. Let’s step back and let you handle it.”

By her “logic,” a person should never seek any treatment for any condition. Nor should anyone try to maintain parnassah, look for a job or career, or date. Never take a medication, see a physician (or dentist, for that matter), or even go to school. We should never fight a war, because “Let’s step back and let you handle it” is a pathetic method of shirking responsibility off one’s self, only to vomit it everywhere else. “G-d, this battle is all you,” after all, is the rally cry, the solution to all of life’s challenges!

The “more intuitive approach” that she touts is most definitely NOT to “let G-d handle this war,” and retreat in denial while war rages all around us; but rather to turn to our scientists and physicians who have devoted countless hours to the study of science and medicine. G-d has given us the intellect, motivation, and skills necessary to overcome countless challenges in the world. This is but another obstacle in the maze of history. We, as a G-d fearing society, will eventually conquer this challenge with knowledge and science AS WELL AS faith and prayer. They are not mutually exclusive by any means.

The tertiary-care hospital where I practice has witnessed unspeakable sorrows these past few months. Many, many people of faith have lost their lives as a result of this pandemic. As for all those health-care workers who continue to sacrifice countless hours in the pursuit of patient care, these people are the true heroes, not someone looking to “step back” and hide.

Donnie S. Isseroff, MD

Da’as Torah

Dear Editor,

I find Dr. Gila Jedwab’s article of June 26 frightening. Most of us tend to ascribe intellectual prowess and professional skill to people who have a title of “doctor” and have initials following their name. In Dr. Jedwab’s case, her article reflects a shocking lack of either attribute. And she cloaks her ill-advised and dangerous opinions in the terms emunah and bitachon.

She suggests that we fly in the face of recommendations from rabbanim and doctors, that we pretend that over 1,000 of our brothers and sisters here in New York didn’t die because we didn’t know early enough how masking and distancing could have minimized the loss of life. She dares to suggest that it was lack of emunah and bitachon that caused the scourge! That we should laugh and rejoice in close proximity, hug and kiss with abandon, because in so doing, we show Hashem that we believe in His power to take care of us. Her hubris is breathtaking!

It’s terrifying to think that there are those who will follow her lead and end up sick or worse, chas v’shalom. There are a lot of people, including this writer and her husband, who have been deprived of hugging and kissing their children and grandchildren for months, who’ve spent Pesach, Shavuos, and Shabbosos on their own, despite the hardship and loneliness, because that’s what da’as Torah in conjunction with medical advice said needs to be done.

Yes, Hashem runs the world with no help required of us, and this dreaded disease can come and go at His will. But frum hashkafah teaches us that Hashem doesn’t want us to sit back with arms folded and wait for miracles. We need to partner with Him, where we do our part, which is to daven, undertake to correct the bad choices we’ve made, and yes, mask and distance, as medical entities and infectious disease specialists all over the word recommend. We then continue to daven, and trust that Hashem heard our prayers and will keep us safe. That is our manifestation of emunah and bitachon!

A question for Dr. Jedwab: as a dentist, does she wear a mask when treating her patients? If her answer is no, I would question her hygienic practices. If her answer is yes, then why does she wear it? I rest my case.


Your Emunah Doesn’t Trump Mine

Dear Editor:

How much longer will the 5TJT insult its readers’ collective intelligence with the pseudo-pious ramblings of Cedarhurst dentist Dr. Gila Jedwab? She has wasted many pages of your paper to obsess about her rage over having to do something to not infringe upon someone else’s air space – that is, cover her mouth so her breath doesn’t touch the mouths of others.

Jedwab can’t seem to give up this idea that HER pure Emunah doesn’t allow her to wear a mask and MY pure Emunah must look the same. You can have whatever “personal” relationship you profess to have with Hashem. But that relationship doesn’t involve me. Your relationship needs end when we have to share airspace.

I’m actually shocked that a medical professional has taken such an aversion to protecting the health of others. Does Dr. Jedwab wear a mask at work? How about gloves? Sterilize instruments between patients? Why, when all Hashem needs is our Emunah? Maybe she is only careful with her patients – people who can bring her economic benefit – but not other people from whom she gets no direct benefit? Do you park in handicapped spaces without proper authorization? Run red lights when no one is looking? These selfish “Me First” kinds of behaviors seem right up your alley.

Why is a frum paper allowing someone to manipulate Torah in such a blatant way? In her last rambling, Jedwab suggested that just as the sin of the meraglim was so great that they had no opportunity for teshuva, those of us who are distancing from others for the sake of THEIR health might not have an opportunity for teshuva either. This isn’t tochecha; it’s blasphemy.

When did Hashem tell Dr. Jedwab that her pathway to a personal relationship with Him is the only way? I believe we are partners with Hashem in this world. Clearly, the coronavirus is here for a reason. Maybe Hashem wants us to be more aware of the differences between each other and work on ways to bridge those differences? Maybe Hashem wants to show us that we are not powerless – we can and must do our part to clamp down on the spread of the virus. Yes, “let go and let God” can be an effective coping mechanism. But Hashem expects us to work WITH him. To put ourselves out there. God has confidence in us (well, most of us) to be able to recognize Him in our lives. Could the purpose of the virus be to humble ourselves, to be mevater others, allowing their health needs to go first and our wants to go second?

Larry, I hope you will put an end to these selfish, insulting rantings. I hope both you and Dr. Jedwab take this unprecedented opportunity to put your energy into building community rather than dividing it.


Let’s stay healthy out there,

Joyce Klein
North Woodmere

Misplaced Faith

Dear Editor,

In Dr. Gila Jedwab’s editorial “Trusting God to Run His World” (June 26), she argues that G-d “doesn’t require our ineffectual micromanaging” in running the world. Jedwab sees the precautions we are taking to save lives and avoid a viral outbreak as “leaving G-d out of the equation.” If this were only her Facebook page, I would shake my head and move on. Yet by publishing this editorial, you are complicit in whatever damage Jedwab’s foolishness inspires in others, presuming there are others who are unable to see through the fallacy of her ideas. You are deliberately transgressing on the fundamental principle of pikuach nefesh.

Moreover, by Jedwab’s reckless logic, it implies a deep skepticism for science which, for consistency’s sake, should apply to her own profession — why can’t G-d take care of our teeth without relying on the practice of dentistry?

But let’s say, hypothetically, her distrust is relegated only to this current pandemic we’re experiencing. She asks, “Wouldn’t it have been smarter to step aside and say, ‘G-d, this battle is all you. Let’s step back and let you handle it?’” to which I answer: No. It would not be smarter. It would be a misplaced faith in G-d. To presume that He would want us risking the health of others, or even depending on Him to blatantly display his mighty hand is akin to brandishing religion as a weapon unconcerned with whom it hurts or potentially kills as a result. I would even argue that Jedwab’s musings are a misrepresentation of Torah values and what it means to be a man or woman of faith. Her ideas are not only dangerous, but they are the furthest from G-d’s mercy, kindness, and love.

“Why are we covering our beautiful smiling faces?” she asks. We’re covering because as Jews we believe in protecting others even if it inconveniences our lives. We’re covering them because as Jews, we tolerate a slight discomfort in exchange for knowing that we are doing everything we can in creating a safe environment for others. We’re covering them because, for the time being, based on the information we have, it’s unequivocally a selfless and considerate thing to do. Yes, even if it means the enormous sacrifice of covering our beautiful smiles.

Arye Dworken
Teaneck, New Jersey

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