The Chabad Rabbi of the Jewish Center in Westborough Massachusetts took to social media on Wednesday to express his dismay with today’s ‘mask culture.’ Criticizing people who often berate others for not wearing a protective mask, Rabbi Michoel Green reminded his colleagues that there is no commandment to wear a mask saying: “To all you rabbis who berate unmasked congregants in public: Wearing a mask is NOT a Biblical obligation.”
Regarding Jewish law, the rabbi added that “It is most certainly NOT enforceable according to Jewish law.”
The rabbi then introduced Biblical sources to back up his assessment saying: “Publicly humiliating another human being is a grave sin, an explicit scriptural violation. Leviticus 19:17.”
You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman but incur no guilt because of him. (Leviticus 19:17)
And although many may argue that the masks save lives, the rabbi explains how according to Judaism, it’s better to risk your life than to humiliate someone as humiliation is akin to death saying: “Our sages taught: “It is preferable for one to throw himself into a fiery furnace rather than humiliate another in public” (Berachot 43b, based on Genesis 38:25).”
“Fear of fiery furnaces or dreaded viruses is not an excuse to publicly shame or marginalize another person. Get your priorities straight” he explained.
In an earlier Facebook post, Rabbi Green says that the “mask bullies” are a bigger problem than the virus itself saying: “To all the masked bullies who publicly humiliate & berate unmasked individuals: Your mask will not solve covid-19. It’s just masking the problem. Your mouth is the problem”