1/ I love #Thanksgiving but #Purim is pretty awesome too & the pandemic hit my town right on that holiday. We were supposed to go to someone's house for seudah & of course traipse all over town delivering mishloach manot. We didn't b/c, thank God, I understood disease
2/ Unbeknownst to us, my whole family were COVID19 positive on Purim. If we had gone to the seudah, if we had given out shlach-manot, we would have been passing disease to dozens of people. I was already using sanitizer heavily but nobody wore masks in March.
3/ I told my family (and anyone who would listen to me) that we had to not only assume that every person was infected but that WE were infected & contagious. Sadly, I was right.

As people have been saying, we needed to follow zombie apoc. rules.

4/ Purim has even more congregating than Thanksgiving; and I've been informed that Xmas is a major holiday, but I've had to skip shul for months, and Passover, and Sukkot, and the High Holidays nearly wrecked me.

5/ And whenever I feel I'm not doing enough, I remind myself that my whole family had COVID (thank God with comparatively mild symptoms & some still linger for the ones hardest hit in my house) and by taking science seriously, we likely saved people's lives
6/ It's a problem of #Literalist thinking: people judge actions by demonstrable, visual, results. Prevention is given short shrift, if not outright denigrated.

Literalism is also why people insist on individual actions to solve what is a structural problem (a PANDEMIC)
7/ When people ask "how can we sacrifice [this thing I think is important] while we wait for a vaccine" I respond that if we (1) tested & traced when there were small pockets of infection & (2) demanded the gov. pay people to stay home, we could have [thing] *before* the vaccine
8/ Ultimately, being a halakhist helps me understand these solutions b/c I'm trained to understand the interconnections of responsibilities.

E.g. when asked for a leniency to do [thing they want but think they need] on Shabbat, I recog. these ppl don't think Shabbat is serious
9/ Shabbat violation carries the death penalty in the Torah & while we definitely don't enforce this (at all, get real), the rule tells us that Shabbt is *super serious*

They don't get that. They want a leniency because their convenience is paramount in their solipsistic world.
10/ Same dynamic with this virus

I've been asked why I rule it's at best optional - even forbidden - to have shul during the pandemic when that would result in no minyan for months.

I retort that we need to demand test/tracing/money from the gov. first

11/ These people think I'm being unrealistic to say that; but I hold (like Rav Twersky, as I linked above) that pikuach-nefesh (safeguarding life) is paramount over nearly every commandment.

But to my surprise, chagrin & shame, I've learned that many people don't agree!
12/ Human life is important to them only in theory, but when presented with the halakhic solution - no shul until you do everything to demand from the gov the testing/tracing/business-aid - they look around with their #Literalist eyes & become Jaws Mayors

13/ I keep promising a longer essay on how being Modern Orthodox helps understand the disease & how to reconcile conflicting values. This is a precis/prolegomenon for that endeavor.

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More from @JoshuaCypess

15 Nov
18.01/ Shavua Tov, all. In 2020, our reporters have replaced action heroes.
18.02/ Since his entire presidency has been conducted through Twitter, his saying "He won" constitutes a concession. Let's go!
Read 30 tweets
13 Nov
1/ Now that Biden-Harris has won, I want to make two points before I forget:

#1: Joe Biden is a midwife for spurring the USA transition to a anti-White-Supremacy future

#2: Of the 3 countries in right-wing populist crisis - US, UK, Israel - we've pulled out of the tailspin
2/ First: whether or not Harris succeeds to the presidency, Biden's role in supporting the ticket of our first African American president & leading the ticket for the first woman & women of color, makes him a singular role in history for transferring power to a new majority
3/ Profs. Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt in "How Democracies Die" claim:

"[no] democracy [has] made a transition from one in which a previously dominant majority ethnic group loses its dominance status and remain a democracy. It is unprecedented."

Read 12 tweets
10 Nov
1/ The latest gambit by the GOP to retain power is definitely worrisome (which is about a 3 on the fear scale, 0 = meh, 10 = take to the streets) but all the government lawyers I read say that it's another paper tiger

2/ The rule I use to analyze these particular plots & conspiracies is (a) how many moving parts & (b) who profits

This gambit has way too many moving parts. To work, a lot people need to pervert their offices & those people won't directly benefit. That's a bust plan
3/ This plan needs law firms, state governments, judges etc. to all act corruptly in order to help the GOP overturn an election that Biden won with a bigger mandate than DJT did as well as a popular vote disparity growing daily, by the millions!

Read 9 tweets
9 Nov
1/ Quick #Steelers thoughts about being 8-0. First, if the time travelers who made the Chicago Cubs win the 2016 World Series caused Clinton to lose, may the Steelers great season be the reason Biden won. Good job, chrononauts!
2/ Coach Tomlin deserves coach of the year for 1.5 seasons of brilliance plus lifetime achievement. Going 8-8 with the lowest offensive DVOA in the same year that showed his ability to coax good behavior & performance from AB & Bell, is praiseworthy.
3/ Add onto that an 8-0 start, confirming yet another season without a losing record (he's never had one), should put him over the top.

Now, onto the Cardiac Steelers season.

(1) The team defense has recently looked porous, esp. vs. the run
Read 13 tweets
9 Nov
1/ Many of the analysts & pundits who are paid for hot takes are, by virtue of lucre, making those takes oh so hot about the Meaning of the Election despite NOT HAVING FULL DATA.

It's driving me crazy.
2/ I understand, though, that this is their job.

However! I will permanently dock points for these Hot-takers if they don't include two caveats when they emit their burblings about The Meaning

1. The Voting Rights Act was gutted
3/ Without a robust protection vs suppression, the will of the people will never equal the results of voting. This is why Roberts & the GOP killed it.

2. The propaganda onslaught of Facebook/Youtube, FoxNews, Sinclair etc.

Voters did not know the truth about the candidates!
Read 7 tweets
9 Nov
1/ The signs were an act of leadership

In the pulpit it was crucial to be non-partisan (I was always political, b/c halakhah covers every topic). But even out of the pulpit, no signs; e.g. in 2012, despite my support of Obama, I didn't broadcast it.
2/ I never put up signs until I needed to repudiate Trump (ym'sh). As a rabbi & thus a moral leader I had to show my politically conservative community it's possible to be 'civil' & cordial while standing up publicly for what the Torah demanded: anti-racism, compassion, justice
3/ It took a lot of risk. It came with a cost to our social life.

I knew it would be costly, yet that's why bravery is the highest ideal. Courage is risking for a mitzvah. It's what being Jewish is supposed to entail. It's the 'true' in "Torah-true Jew"

Read 13 tweets

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