The Shaarei Shalom (gates of peace) rabbinical court in Bet Shemesh, headed by Rabbi Nussbaum and Rabbi Wosner,  issued a rabbinic proclamation last Thursday

“To our fellow Jews around the world, we are currently in days of confusion and crisis, in which wicked governments impose their heavy yoke upon the God-fearing with all sorts of strange decrees: closures of houses of study and worship, the shutdown of schools and yeshivot (Torah learning institutions), decrees banning ritual baths that prevent the purity of the Jewish people. At their right-hand stands the so-called “religious” parties to support them in these nefarious deeds of destruction.”

“To all these unscrupulous individuals we say:

“Fear the Day of Judgement! Know that there is judgment and a Judge, and for all these things God will bring you to justice.”

“How could you not have trembled when you agreed to the closure of Talmud Torah, schools where children learn Torah? (Do you not know that) upon the merit of the breath of these holy children, the world owes its existence?”

“Innumerable testimonies have been presented before the Rabbinic Court attesting that the entire decree concerning masks is for vanity and uselessness, and is not necessary from a medical point of view.”

Ther rabbis classified the advocates of these decrees as “the wicked” referred to by Isaiah.

But the wicked are like the troubled sea Which cannot rest, Whose waters toss up mire and mud.  There is no safety —said my God— For the wicked. Isaiah 57:20-21

The rabbis classified the current government restrictions against performing religious duties as Arakta D’Masanta (ערקתא דמסנתא, “even to change the strap of a sandal.”). This is a special Halachic (Torah law) classification referring to times when a government (historically non-Jewish governments that ruled over the Jews in Israel) made decrees prohibiting in part or in entirety Jewish learning and observance. Under normal circumstances and with very few exceptions, Jews are forbidden from endangering themselves to perform mitzvoth (Torah commandments). When the prohibitions against the observance of the mitzvoth is with the intention of causing the Jews to abandon their faith, Jews are required to reject the anti-Torah decrees for even the smallest and most insignificant detail, such as the changing the strap of a sandal, even at the risk of endangering their lives. (Sanhedrin 74b).

This classification was used in the second century under Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Hellenistic king of the Seleucid Empire. It was also declared under the Roman occupation of Israel, and during the Crusades of 1096. 

“And there is no greater time of danger than what we are facing at the present,” the rabbis wrote. “Woe to us that such a scourge has arisen in our times.”

“The one who heeds our call will dwell safely, and no evil will befall his household,” the rabbinic decree concluded.