MK Rabbi Yaakov Tessler (UTJ) spoke in the Knesset plenum on Monday to convey a message on behalf of Gedolei Yisrael, shlita, about the obligation to keep Shabbos, especially during the coronavirus.
“We are currently in a very difficult crisis that has hurt everyone in the State of Israel and has changed everyone’s routine, especially in the field of health and the economy,” Rabbi Tessler began his speech. He continued, “To eradicate the continued outbreak of the coronavirus and increase morbidity, there are strict health guidelines: keeping distance between people, wearing masks and maintaining hygiene. All of these restrictions are there to help us avoid contracting the virus.”
Rabbi Tessler added that “these regulations are indeed very important and we are commanded to adhere to them from the mitzvah of “v’nishmartem me’od lenafshoseichem.” He noted that “I have been asked by Gedolei Yisrael to encourage a further preservation, an excellent and wonderful shemirah for all of Klal Yisrael and especially during this period: shemiras Shabbos.
“For thousands of years, in the most trying situations and in every era, Jews have given their lives for shemiras Shabbos. Shemiras Shabbos is the connection between Am Yisrael and the Creator of the world, as the passuk says, ‘And Bnei Yisrael kept the Shabbos, to make the Shabbos throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant.'”
Rabbi Tessler added, “The government is investing a lot of resources in the fight against the virus and eradicating the disease and updates the guidelines weekly and sometimes even daily. Yet there is one ancient directive, and with it also a promise that Chazal established: ‘Shabbos hi milizok u’refuah kerovah lavo, Shabbos should afford you a respite from crying out and you shall soon be healed.’ And it is the same in economic matters. Many actions are being tried to motivate the economy, but there is one course of action that has not yet been tried, and that is shemiras Shabbos, of which we say in Lechah Dodi, ‘for it, the Shabbos, is the source of blessing.’
“In the latest government order,” Rabbi Tessler noted, “businesses, malls and markets are closed on weekends and citizens are required to remain at home. Let’s accept it upon ourselves every week, and not just because of corona. Shabbos is a wonderful gift. Let’s keep it at home and in public, and Gedolei Yisrael bless that thanks to the observance of Shabbos we will, b’ezras Hashem, eradicate the virus, and we will be saved from all illness and damage.”