Rav Amar Calls for Taanis in Light of Swine Flu Pandemic



Quotes Gemara Seen Here On Matzav.com Last Week

The Rishon Letzion, Sefardi Chief Rabbi Rav Shlomo Amar, today called on Yidden to observe this Thursday, the second day of the post-Pesach Bahab, as a day of fasting and tefillah to battle the swine flu which has reached Israel. Rav Amar said that those who cannot fast a whole day should fast a half-day, or at least engage in a taanis dibbur. In a kol koreh, Rav Amar wrote, “We urge everyone who is able to take it upon himself to fast on Thursday…and recite many tefillos and bakashos that day. It is everyone’s duty to examine his behavior…and to return to Hashem with all his heart and to engage in the learning of Torah…and Hashem will then forgive us.” 

Rav Amar related that a similar epidemic led the Amora, Rav Yehuda, to declare a fast day when a plague hit pigs in his area (as first reported here on Matzav.com). The Gemara there in Taanis states that though diseases do not generally pass from animals to humans, this case is different as the digestive systems of pigs and humans are similar.

Israel confirmed yesterday a fourth case of swine flu and has imposed strict controls at airports and border crossings to monitor travelers returning from Mexico in an effort to prevent further infections.

Rav Amar issued his call in conjunction with Rav Tzion Boaron of the High Rabbinical Court. At time of danger, they said, Yiddishkeit teaches that each individual must do teshuvah and study his actions to see where he may have erred. In light of the fear that the swine flu pandemic may turn into a worldwide plague, Rabbis Amar and Boaron stated that “we must follow the custom of our forefathers, and cry out to Hashem when we face trouble… It is an obligation upon every individual to review his actions, both between himself and Hashem and between himself and his fellow, and return to Hashem with all our hearts, and to study Torah more frequently and more intensely; and Hashem, Who does not ignore the prayers of the many, will once again have mercy on us, for unto Him is the salvation.” 

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}