FLATTEN THE CURVE….Not the Kids

37

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

There is a debate raging in this country that affects every one of us. Should the country reopen or should it remain shut? Should virtually everyone be locked in their homes or should people be allowed to work, shop and enjoy life, while doing their best to protect themselves and others? Is this country primarily a capitalist democracy where people have the freedom of choice and are trusted to conduct themselves and their businesses in a responsible way?

The other side contends that the government has the authority to declare a state of emergency for as long as it wishes, despite the financial, spiritual, and mental costs. The government’s opinion is superior to that of the citizens, who have no right to protest and are trusted to be able to conduct their lives in a safe way.

It started when the coronavirus came to these shores. The opinion of certain medical experts, adopted in this country and in the majority of countries around the world, was that the best way to contain the virus is to lock everyone in their homes. A shutdown ensued. People were told that the virus is so contagious and so deadly that it could kill upwards of 2.2 million Americans and therefore it was obligatory for everyone to stay at home, avoiding all human contact. Schools were closed, as were shuls, stores, businesses, entertainment venues, courts and offices. Basically everything with a door lock was sealed shut. Certain places that were deemed essential were allowed to remain open.

America was told that the virus would make so many people sick that hospitals everywhere would be overwhelmed, so citizens needed to stay home to keep the virus from spreading from one person to another. All elective surgery was cancelled as hospitals emptied to make room for the avalanche of virus patients. People who needed surgery sat home growing sicker.

In fact, for the most part, it never happened. Hospitals across the country sat empty.

Some hospitals in hard-hit places such as New York City were initially flooded with corona patients and proved incapable of caring for them. Tent facilities quickly went up to contain the multitudes of sick who would be supposedly come down with the virus. Ships were sent floating to New York and huge arenas were retrofitted into hospitals at huge expense. All those emergency facilities stood virtually empty. Hospitals lost so much money that they have been forced to lay off doctors, nurses and other personnel and are begging for bailouts.

The American people were told that once the virus would be under control and the curve of sickness flattened, the country would reopen and people would be able to leave their homes and resume their previous lives, while maintaining social distancing and other guidelines designed to keep them safe.

The virus is deadly, and it is real, but 98% of the people who got it recovered. Most deaths occurred in a few states, and in those states, many of the deaths were in nursing homes. In Pennsylvania, 75% of the 3,800 tragic deaths occurred in nursing homes. Fifty percent of the deaths in New Jersey were in long-term adult care facilities. In Maryland, 793 of the state’s 1,338 victims, almost 60%, were people in nursing home type institutions. It is said that nationally, one-third of corona deaths were patients and staff of long-term care facilities. In New York, Governor Cuomo mandated that nursing homes admit Covid patients into their facilities. This contributed to New York’s 5,300 nursing home deaths, out of 22, 619; close to 25%.

In the U.S., 1.52 million people contracted the disease and some 90,000 died, It is very tragic, but nowhere near the 2.2 million deaths doomsday victim number experts and their models initially predicted.

The shutdown has thrown the economy into a depression. Thirty million people have lost their jobs. Businesses forced to remain closed are going bankrupt and shopkeepers are unable to feed their families. Entire industries are on the verge of collapse, as their income has disappeared. Nobody knows what the next day will bring.

Meanwhile, by now, a study of the numbers clearly indicates that the curve has been flattened. The number of people succumbing to the disease has dropped precipitously across the country and around the world.

People have had enough and are staging protests, demanding that their state reopen. In fact, several states have reopened, and as stores reopen and people slowly return to work, money has started trickling in.

But there is an obvious split here. The only states that have responded to the dropping numbers and fearful economic data are those led by Republican governors. Democrat-led states, in which a majority of this country’s Jews reside, largely remain closed. Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York says that it is too dangerous to reopen and is only slowly permitting portions of the state to resume activities.

New York City is closed, draining the people, industry and tax base of the state, with no end to the lockdown in sight. Not only the people, but also the police and prosecutors of the city have had enough and have said that they will not enforce the mayor’s rules on social distancing and the wearing of masks. The mayor of Los Angeles has promised to keep L.A. shut for at least another three months. Michigan’s governor has gone to radical ends to enforce her stay-at-home order. New Jersey’s governor says life cannot return to the state’s workplaces, downtowns and main streets until a proven vaccine is widely available.

At the same time, Republican governors have successfully begun opening states such as Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, Florida and Texas.

States are desperate for relief, but the Democrat governors are reluctant to give up their power. People are desperate to make a living and pay their bills, but instead they are lectured by the same people who placed the virus into nursing homes, causing thousands of elderly people to die.

There is genuine distress in this country. Americans are sick of being confined. They are sick of not being able to take care of their needs and they are sick of having their rights taken away from them.

The people followed instructions and together flattened the curve of the disease. In return, government has flattened small business owners and people who live paycheck to paycheck who lost their jobs. There is terrible suffering in our community, as people scavenge for sources of income. Many have joined the ranks of the poor, taking handouts and accepting free food to keep themselves going.

Yet, perhaps more importantly for us is the fact that schools and shuls remain closed. The chinuch of our children is the prime objective of our lives and a cause to which we dedicate much of our time and money. The shul and bais medrash are the axis around which our lives as frum Jews evolve. Permit me for being blunt, but how much longer can we go on like this?

We cannot wait anymore for the politicians, who have no incentive to open schools. They don’t care. It’s not important to them. Apparently, it is more important to them to keep the economy suppressed so that the hated president’s poll numbers continue dropping and their party has a chance to beat him in the November election. They will continue to come up with different numbers and excuses, but the bottom line is that if schools remain closed, then parents cannot return to work. For all practical purposes, as long as schools are closed, the state is closed.

Let us be honest. School being closed has taken a big toll on parents, but children are suffering much more. Students are regressing. They are not learning as they should be. Students are falling behind academically, in gaining knowledge, in learning how to get along with other people and how to advance in life. Young people are missing social connections. They are missing having friends and people their age with whom to talk and play – and fight. Does that make any sense to anyone? We are in uncharted territory. Nobody knows much about this virus, yet they know that everything must remain slammed shut in states controlled by Democrats until at least November.

I have no medical education. I don’t know how to create computer models. But I do know that all the computer models that predicted Armageddon were wrong. The virus is dangerous, it has killed many people, but countries all over the world are opening up, so why aren’t we?

Israel had one of the most effective lockdowns, and thanks to much siyata diShmaya, they lost under three hundred people. The comparison to New York City, which has a similar population, is staggering. And while New York City remains shut and schools and shuls are closed, in Israel schools are open, yeshivos have reopened, stores are operating, weddings are taking place, and the country is getting back to work, with strict measures in force to prevent a return of the deadly illness.

What is going on here?

You could be forgiven for concluding that it’s not the virus that’s causing the permanent closings of businesses, but the way government has chosen to deal with it.

When you meet people in government, or if you listen closely to them, you find out that they are not any smarter than anyone else. There is nothing more intelligent about them, nothing that qualifies them to make decisions that affect the lives of millions of people. They are surrounded by “yes men,” sycophants who offer them accolades for their heroic work.

And our children are suffering. So are we. We were supposed to flatten the curve, not the kids.

How long can they continue learning over the telephone, or on Zoom? It is not practical, and even if it is working now, it will not work until November. Children are bored. They don’t have what to do all day, and when children are bored, nothing good can come of the situation. Not every child lives in an optimal family situation. Their parents are frustrated. Everyone is stressed. The father or mother may have lost their job and money is tight. Being cooped up in the house can lead to a breakdown in shalom bayis and abuse often ensues. The children have nowhere to escape to, nobody to cry to, no friends to hang with, and nobody to help them along in their studies. They begin a downward spiral.

Children who were doing well in their studies are now falling behind, and the longer they stay out of school, the harder it will be to get them back on track and where they belong. The knowledge they are lacking and the personal interaction with their rebbi, morah or teacher they are losing out on will take a long time to replace. Many children will need special help that their parents will not be able to afford. New problems are being created every day. New issues are popping up and the emotional health of our children is at stake.

Bochurim who were shteiging in yeshiva, adhering to a schedule and a learning framework, are now playing it loose. Learning with a chavrusah on the phone in your bedroom is not the same as being part of a pulsating bais medrash, with lively back and forth under the guidance of a beloved rebbi. They have to be self-motivating and be able to inspire themselves to keep to sidrei hayeshiva, starting with davening in the morning and continuing with keeping the sedorim at home or in a shul that allows them to study there surreptitiously. Not everyone is up to the challenge.

We value life. We place a premium on life. But if we don’t put the genie back into the bottle soon, it will be increasingly difficult to get our children back to where they need to be on a scholastic level and on a Yiddishkeit level. It is time to figure out how to do it in a safe and responsible manner. Torah is our lifeblood. It is our essence.

If bars and restaurants and businesses of all types located in Republican states can figure out how to safely reopen, then surely the am chochom venavon should be able to figure out how to open our mosdos with proper social distancing, safety measures and guidelines.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was holding one of his regular press conferences last week when he announced that the Jersey Shore will be opened in time for Memorial Day. How is it that the governor of one of the hardest hit states, who has resists opening stores and businesses and has insisted on keeping his stay-at-home order in place because of his overwhelming concern for public safety, decided to open the beaches?

Listen to what he said: “The Shore is central to our identity and we want to ensure that families can safely enjoy it this summer.”

Their identity is The Shore, the beach, and therefore they will do what they must to have it open, “so that families can safely enjoy it.”

I ask you: Is our identity any less important than a beach? Are our children less important than the seashore? Is our future less important than the boardwalk?

The time is now to reopen that which is central to our identity and our families’ physical and spiritual wellbeing.

{Matzav.com}

37 COMMENTS

  1. Great article with very valid, true points BUT what are our authorities doing about this no-end lockdown? Where are our councilman, city district representatives, our rabbanim? Why is everyone sitting by idly when the Democrats take our lives away from us? Do we need to protest in front of city hall? Do we need to send letters to the gov?

    • YES!!!
      Imho, we need to do just that. There is now a group of thousands of baalei batim who are losing there parnassah by the day. They should join together with the same or more number of non Jews (so deBlasio doesn’t take advantage to insult the Jewish community again) and make a demonstration that it MUST end!

  2. Parents can and should learn along with their children, so can grandparents (there is a wonderful invention, the phone). Siblings can learn together. I hope it is not true that students are regressing, but if so, please don’t blame the nonjewish politicians.

    • This is UNHEARD of in our history, except during actual war time, that chadorim closed down!
      You have no empathy.
      Did you lose your parnassah?
      Do you have 8 children sitting at home and trying to listen to zoom (or Zaidy) on the telephone?
      אל תידון את חברך עד אשר תגיע למקומו!

    • WELL SAID … ENOUGH SUFFERING we must mobilize as one loud voice and make sure that every politican feels tremendous pressure from our frum oilam OPEN UP OUR SOCIETY NOW!!!!

  3. one of the best editorials I’ve ever seen written. Now it’s time to act. BH here in Lakewood we’ve started. Mesivta boys are no longer learning at home. Vihameivin yavin. Hint think dreidil

  4. Thank you for sharing. I generally don’t agree with the Rabbi. This one I agree 100%! Enough with us getting pushed and bullied around. I’m sick and tired of those mibachutz AND THOSE MIBIVNIM who are trying to control us regardless of the damage or potential damage that is happening to the tinokos shel beis rabon and older.

  5. But people still don’t realize the danger of Talking loud when you are next to someone who is vulnerable.
    Are you careful to stop Talking on your cellphone when you are passing another person on the sidewalk? Do you realize that by Talking, you might be exhaling thousands of germs into the air while walking right passed another person who happens to be above 60?
    If the person Talking would at least wear a mask it wouldn’t be so bad. But they don’t.

  6. Agreed with almost everything said. Why is everyone waking up two months too late?
    However to bring proof from the empty hospitals and surplus of equipment doesn’t actually make sense. Were it not for social distancing who knows what the hospitals would look like. But too close “non essential businesses” for THREE MONTHS (!!!!!!) and rely on the government for handouts is just communist Russia.

  7. Since when do doctors and high profile lawyers tell us how to run our shuls and schools and our yiddishkeit.

    • sorry to break you heart YIDDISHE MAMMA but the government doesn’t give 2 hoots about our yidishkeit. when they dont allow the shuls to open the same applies to churches, mosqeus and sacrificial sites, so dont go all yiddishe mamma on me and pretend like you care, cuz we all know you dont give anotha hoot. aight? dont make as if we are under Stalin’s rule and all this unnecessary drama. just take a chill pill and stop spamming me and these holy neshamos with these thoughtless comments. go back to bayis and dont forget to shut the door and stay inside.
      THANK YOU FOR YOUR LOVE AND SUPPORT BUT NO ONE NEEDS IT. GOODBYE!!!!!!!

  8. Thank you for being one of the precious few in our community who have the guts to speak the truth about this situation! Rabbi Lipschutz is always ready to stand up and say the truth even when it might not be politically correct. I can only hope that the askanim will step up to the plate and advocate on our behalf, instead of lecturing us to listen to every word that comes out of the mouths of these political hacks. Of course we know that we must listen to their rules to avoid getting in trouble, but we must also make our voices heard, and demand from from the political class that they finally put an end to the madness!

    • Make Aliya NOW while you are still alive, If you take it you may as well go visit your kever first so you can see it from this side.

  9. WOW!! WOW!! WOW!! WOW!!
    I read your article every week. Sometimes I agree to everything you write and sometimes there’s some things I personally would leave out.
    But this is a MASTERPIECE !!!! Every word here is written with a purpose and with real Chochma! What a great message!
    I sent it to all family members and requested they all read it.
    Not often these days that one can get their hands on the truth!!

    – What do you think every yochid Should do when they feel their leaders aren’t acting appropriately?

  10. I guess that none of the members of the family of Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz died of suffered from coronavirus. Is there was a death in his family or if somebody from his inner circle suffered, he could not possibly write an editorial like this. Although he is entitled to his opinion, the tone of his words and his cavalier attitude toward the elderly and nursing home patients is shocking. Are 80 thousand people not enough for you? Over 1000 people who were shomrei Torah mitzvos died. Were they chayav misah in your opinion. You sure seem to write them off. Is this the same person who writes “Torah is our lifeblood. It is our essence.” disgraceful.

    • LISTEN HEAR YISROEL!!!!!, first of all your comments got erased because its embarrassment to klal yisroel as a whole. second, yes i am at home with 9 kids and we are doing just fine, and by the way the non jewish schools are also shut down you imbecile, its not the cheder that is being targeted by the “communist russian american democrats”. also i think its better that “thousands of baal habatim lose their jobs” than thousands of bubbies and ziedies (as well as smokers, diabetics and you teenage vapers) being niftar due to this horrible machla.
      THINK BEFORE YOU TALK!!!!!!!!!

  11. Why does every single person feel comfortable to throw his opinion in the public without taking the achrayus of what decision they are broadcasting.We are yidden not republicans and we follow what our rabbanim tell us. Most of them are saying to follow the directives of most doctors which say to be cautious how we reopen our shuls and yeshivas( moetzes gedolei hatorah). To just say openly and publicly everything must reopen, that is quite irresponsible as people take that one step further. Even in Eretz Yisroel they opened with much caution ( social distancing, 50% capacity, etc.). So let us leave it to our Rabbanim and doctors to guide us on this davar chamur and not take every personal opinion into account.

  12. Just because you do not like what they are directing does not mean you have to do something different. Maybe they know how to balance this shver question. As chazal teach ” al yemin shehi smol etc.”

  13. The reasoning behind the editorial is so irrational that no one should be deceived into thinking that it is logical.
    The description of the debate is completely skewed and false.
    All the leaders in this country were elected to protect the citizens they represent.
    There are many non-elected radio and TV personalities who are dangerous and irresponsible fools and make money from attacking the Democratic governors.
    They were totally wrong when the pandemic started by calling it a hoax and the winter flu and after proving themselves to be idiots and unconcerned with loss of life, they are now showing their power by encouraging protests and demands to open up.

    “In fact, for the most part, it never happened. Hospitals across the country sat empty.”
    “All those emergency facilities stood virtually empty. ”
    This is analogous to jumping out of an airplane and being forced to wear a parachute and when you safely land, you complain “see I landed safely. I never needed a parachute.”
    The social distancing worked and the hospitals that sat empty are proof.
    “In the U.S., 1.52 million people contracted the disease and some 90,000 died, It is very tragic, but nowhere near the 2.2 million deaths doomsday victim number experts and their models initially predicted. “
    The 2.2 million figure was a projection based on a scenario where not only do the government and private companies not engage in any “control measures,” but individuals don’t on their own change their behavior to avoid contracting or spreading the virus.

    “I have no medical education. I don’t know how to create computer models. But I do know that all the computer models that predicted Armageddon were wrong.”
    The models were correct. The people, including the President , calling it a hoax were wrong. The President said “ We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” As of today, 95,000 people died and counting. The Novominsker Rebbe passed away from it and so many others.
    Agudath Israel and other Jewish leaders were firmly behind the shutting of Yeshivas and Shuls when the Governors closed everything down.
    The prime importance the Torah puts on saving a human life is sacrosanct.
    “Rav Chaim Soloveitchik considered it an act of apikorsus to even hesitate to be mechalel shabbos for safeik pikuach nefesh” – Rav Mayer Twersky shlita

    There is not even a word in the editorial about the Trillions of dollars that congress has doled out to every American during this crisis.

    Shuls, Yeshivas, schools and camps are beginning to open in NY, NJ and other areas. The governors are cautiously opening their states.

    The editorial is correct in the description of the Republican Governors. “When you meet people in government, or if you listen closely to them, you find out that they are not any smarter than anyone else. There is nothing more intelligent about them, nothing that qualifies them to make decisions that affect the lives of millions of people. They are surrounded by “yes men,” sycophants who offer them accolades for their heroic work. “
    In summary, since when do Jews believe that our rights are being taken away and we should publicly protest when the Government is trying to protect us from pain and death?
    We need to do shtadlanus and try to have influence the government’s decisions.

    Let us thank Hashem for our lives and hopefully on Rosh Hashana this year, while standing in the Beis Hamikdash, we will be able to say with tears in our eyes in Unisaneh Tokef , “U’mee Bamagefa”.

  14. “Ships were sent floating to New York” – ONE ship. “Huge arenas were retrofitted into hospitals” – ONE Javitz center. They were not used because it was Federal, and the State didn’t want to give any credit to Trump, not because they weren’t needed. The projection was lower BECAUSE OF THE LOCKDOWN. Hello??? Do people forget what it was like Pesach time already??? The deaths?? The fear?? I am in such shock over this I can’t tell you. The Gedolim closed our shuls and schools, not the government. Let me repeat: The Gedolim=Daas Torah=Hashem closed our shuls and schools. If you disagree, respectfully call the Rabbonim and talk to them. It is disingenuous to say that the government did this. I have davened at home for months, but I promise that I would be the first to go to jail if the Rabbonim said to go to shul and the government said no. Enough already!! All this has proven is who is on Hashem’s side, and who isn’t. We follow Gedolim and Rabbonim. Period. End of story. Make up a new religion and call it “Shulism and Schoolism”

  15. The Torah and Chazal place tremendous emphasis on safeguarding ones life. This isn’t as simple as made sound. Opening up will surely jeopardize many vulnerable people, and yes, people are not as responsible or mature enough these days as they ought to be, to be able to say that it is a wise idea and in accordance with Torah principals to reopen Shuls and Yeshivos. In addition, while it is true that there are students regressing, many students are actually progressing in learning, Yiras Shomayim, and in family relations as a result of this situation (Menahel Mesivta speaking). Yes, we have been through this for some time already and can use a change back to normalcy, but as stated, it is a question for Gedolei Yisroel. At the current there seems to be two schools of thought regarding this between the Gedolim. Everyone should be following the guidance of their Rabbonim.
    Knowing of Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz for quite some time, I would like to assume that if he printed an opinionated article of this sort, we can assume that it was definitely approved by Gedolei Yisroel, even if he doesn’t openly say so…

  16. This is blatantly misleading and foolish. We don’t need daas Torah from Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and whatever other great intellectual giants. How can anyone say with a straight face that shutdowns are unnecessary because less people died than was predicted would happen without a shutdown.

    I quote from the article:

    “People were told that the virus is so contagious and so deadly that it could kill upwards of 2.2 million Americans and therefore it was obligatory for everyone to stay at home, avoiding all human contact………..In the U.S., 1.52 million people contracted the disease and some 90,000 died, It is very tragic, but nowhere near the 2.2 million deaths doomsday victim number experts and their models initially predicted.”

    Let’s try to be a true Am Chacham Venovon.

  17. This editorial does not advocate immediate return to our normal routine in all aspects. It does, logically, recommend giving our schools and shuls the same chance to open responsibly that offices, bars, restaurants, and beaches have. What I see coming out of national and regional Orthodox organizations, recommending a path forward, does make sense. The least rational people in this whole discussion are politicians on a power trip.

  18. Unfortunately we are being coerced to remain on lockdown by politicians as ransom for the lives of our elderly and infirm and all those who use the danger to life as an accusation against those begging for reopening are doing the same, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. It’s the same responsibility of those who shut down the schools to figure out how to SAFELY reopen. shutting down was the easy work, now it’s time to do the hard work.

  19. Among the reasons why the country should open, the rest of the country, 99% of the country is being treated like New York metropolitan area as well as some more major areas. The fact is elsewhere in the country it’s done. So now that it’s done let’s get things going again.

    It’s time to once again Make America Great Again!

  20. I don’t see and sources. its very important that articles like this have sources. otherwise you can just label it as propaganda. ya need proof of the things you say my friend. Also, you cant compare New York’s situation to any other state as New York (most cases in US) has double the amount of confirmed cases of covid 19 than New Jersey (second to most cases in US)(1).

    1.https://ncov2019.live/data

    just an example of how to write a source you pack of clowns.

  21. Shocking article. No sensitivity or sympathy for sick, elderly or those who lost loved ones. It is written with brazen chutzpah and selfishness. It is written an aura of entitlement and disdain for everyone but himself. Even the notorious New York Times has more value of life and than the author. Who does he represent?
    Please see the cover of the Times on Sunday 5/24/2020 ‘Incalculable Loss’ and then read this pathetic article again. It makes me wonder why we are Jewish and if we are really Hashem’s chosen nation anymore. The article is a massive Chilul Hashem in every respect.

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