A recent shiur given by Rav Eliyahu Brog shlit”a, grandson of Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l is below:
Full shiur: 1:04:06
Condensed version: 46:16
Originally appeared on Emes News
Below is a free transcription of the original shiur, with some small additions, which were approved by Rav Brog:
How Great is the Impact of Busha!
The Gemara states in Gittin Daf :נז תניא א”ר אלעזר בוא וראה כמה גדולה כחה של בושה שהרי סייע הקב”ה את בר קמצא והחריב את ביתו ושרף את היכלו “ “Rabbi Elazar said, Come and see how great is the כח of embarrassment, for we see that Hashem helped Bar Kamtza and destroyed His House and burned His Heichal! Now, when we study this incident, the Rav said (Harav Avigdor Miller zatza”l), what should be our opinion of Bar Kamtza? Was he a real frum honest good Jew? Obviously not, how can a good Jew inform the Emperor that the Jews rebelled, knowing that his slander may destroy the Bais Hamikdash? Wasn’t it his Bais Hamikdash too? Obviously, he was very far from being an upright Jew. And still the Gemara tells us this marvelous Chiddush: How great is the כח of Busha! Even a Rasha like that! An incredible Chiddush! The Rosh Yeshiva would bring a proof to this idea from the fact that Hashem killed the donkey of בלעם so people should not say this Donkey bested בלעם in an argument. Hashem is חס even on someone like בלעם! Imagine the great Kiddush Hashem had this donkey stayed alive, people could point out and say this is the donkey that spoke! But no, Hashem was Chas on בלעם’s כבוד.
What is the Message of Corona?
Now this brings us to the Sugya of the Corona/ Covid-19. הקב”ה is teaching us something, as it says “היסר גוים הלה יוכיח ,המלמד אדם דעת” “ The one who chastises the nations, isn’t he trying to show something? Isn’t he teaching Da’as? Hashem is teaching something, and Hashem wants us to study the Sugya, that is the Ratzon Hashem.
All that I am telling you now we learned from the Rav זצ”ל (Harav Avigdor Miller), he spoke about this at length, and he quoted the verse לשוא הכיתי את בניכם מוסר לא לקחו, “Hashem laments! I hit your children for nothing because you haven’t learnt from this”. Hashem does not want to hurt us, even when a רשע is in pain the שכינה says קלני מראשי קלני מזרועי, Hashem loves us more than our parents love us. And if we don’t learn from it, Hashem says “I have done this for nothing” and we כביכול have caused pain to the שכינה for nothing! Hashem is trying to help us out and we are just throwing out the lesson.
The question is, what is Hashem trying to teach us? It states נחפשה דרכינו ונחקורה, we must search our ways to become better and correct them, and whatever we become better in, it’s all profit. Even if we don’t hit the nail on the head and get the exact message.
מדה כנגד מדה ONLY!
However, הקב”ה helps us out and teaches us what message he intends for us to recognize. Now, if a person never studied Chazal, never listened to his Rabbeim, he won’t know these things. But the Mishna in סוטה discusses מדה כנגד מדה, the way a person behaves that is the way הקב”ה behaves to us. Once, in midst of a long conversation I had with הג”ר יעקב קמינצקי זצ”ל, he said that in this world Hashem’s הנהגה is ONLY מדה כנגד מדה. Of course, Hashem can do whatever He wants, but in this world, He has כביכול bound Himself to מדה כנגד מדה. This is for our benefit, so that we can ascertain for which sin a צרה has come upon us, and how we must correct ourselves.
And he brought a marvelous proof. פרעה said הבה נתחכמה לו” “ and we will drown the Jewish babies. Why did פרעה choose drowning? Because Hashem already swore not to bring another מבול, andפרעה and his nation will get off free and not be punished. But the question is, Hashem has many other punishments he can bring, fire, sword, plague, etc… Hashem does not have a shortage of punishments. So, why was פרעה so confident that he will not get punished? Reb Yaakov answered that פרעה knew, that Hashem’s הנהגה is מדה כנגד מדה and ONLY מדה כנגד מדה! And if he throws the babies in water, the only only way he will be punished is through water! Some people think that נסתרים דרכי השם and it’s impossible for a man to analyze correctly the מדה כנגד מדה, we are not נביאים after all! But if that’s the case then the lesson of יסורים and צרות is totally lost, and הקב”ה is not showing us anything. It’s like a teacher giving a lesson and talking in Greek, and the student has no idea what the teacher is saying. Obviously הקב”הis talking to us in way that we can figure out if we put our brains to it.
Corona Confusion: 19 Questions for COVID-19
Using this great principle, we will study 19 astonishing things that happened in the Corona epidemic and then Bs’’d attempt to learn the מדה כנגד מדה based on the words of our Gedolim and Rosh Yeshivos.
- Hashem closed down the Yeshivos. Why was that? What would be a מדה כנגד מדה cause for such an גזירה? Perhaps if we threw somebody out of a Yeshiva, a מדה כנגד מדה would be that we were thrown out of Yeshivos.
- But in addition, Hashem closed down the Shuls. Why was that? Perhaps we don’t respect Shuls properly, or perhaps our davening is lacking; that’s definitely a possibility, but if that is the only message here, then
- Then why did Hashem also close חתונה halls? There is no Halacha one must be respectful in a חתונה Hall? So perhaps you might say, that was for another reason, חתונות today are too ostentatious, have no Yiddishe ta’am and have Goyishe style music. Perhaps,
- But then, why were there no visitors allowed to the sick unfortunates in the hospitals; what can be the cause of that misfortune?
- Why did this epidemic affect the entire globe, literally?
- Hashem has many ways he can close down the whole world, why did he close it with a virus? There are no accidents in this world, and there must be a reason why a virus was chosen as Hashems agent.
- Why was this virus so extremely contagious?
- Why did Corona affect the lungs and respiratory system?
- Why did it affect people’s sense of taste?
- Why did so many people die from it? Hashem could’ve made people sick without dying.
- Why were a tremendous amount of deaths specifically from the New York, New Jersey area? Why were they hit so much worse than the rest of the U.S.A.?
- Why were children basically unaffected by this disease?
- Why did Hashem cause that many of the hospital deaths were actually a result of neglect and not of the actual Corona disease?
- Why did we all have to be in quarantine?
- A new term has now come of age. “Social Distancing”. What was the cause of this?
- Why did Hashem cause that everyone must wear masks?
- Why was there a total lockdown for approximately 9-10 weeks, until around May 15th when things began slowly opening up?
- Why were ethnic minorities allowed to demonstrate without any social distancing at all, only the Jews had to social distance? [ed. Note: and were singled out for special mention by Mayor DeBlasio in the episode of the funeral in Williamsburg]. Federal Judge Sharp made a notation of this and wrote “The mass protests that took place in recent weeks were yet another example of uneven enforcement. Both Coumo and DeBlasio could have discouraged the demonstrations in the name of public safety, or could have remained silent about the massive rallies. Instead, both publicly encouraged and even praised demonstrators, knowing that there would be large gatherings with little or no social distancing”.
- Originally the disease was called Corona Virus, then its name was changed to COVID-19, is this another happy accident? Or perhaps Hashem is being Meramez to us something there?
Theהלבנת פנים of תשע”ט
Before Pesach, Harav Chaim Kanievsky released a letter, that we are sitting in quarantine, we must be זהיר in לשון הרע as it says בדד ישב מחוץ למחנה a Metzora must sit in quarantine. Reb Chaim is telling us that Hashem is being תובע us for not beingזהיר in לשון הרע. Reb Don Segal spoke on Pesach and said that there was separation between families, but he did not elaborate. At a later date, the Rosh Yeshiva of Lakewood, Harav Dovid Schustal, spoke, and pinpointed a specific episode and said it was the אונאת דברים and הלבנת פנים of תשע”ט. And if a person studies this, he will see that this answers all 19 questions. Theאונאת דברים and הלבנת פנים of תשע”ט. What happened was this; we threw out thousands of boys and girls from their Yeshivos and Bais Yaakov’s, in the Measles episode last year. (Yes, I clarified this, it was thousands). And the children and their families were sent out of Shuls, and they were disinvited from relative’s and sibling’s חתונות. While these unfortunate children were homebound, they were not allowed visitors! Parents told their children, “Do not have anything to do with them, do not visit them, they are very dangerous, they don’t have their vaccine.” This may have been perhaps the first time that such a thing occurred in the history of America, and perhaps even in the history of Europe. And perhaps (it’s possible I am mistaken) such an event has not happened since the days of the שבטים, when the holy שבטי קה, sent out יוסף הצדיק from their midst, because they said he was a רודף, and thus the entire שבט יוסף was expelled from כלל ישראל. I do not know if anything like that has happened since then, till תשע”ט when we threw out thousands of our own brethren from our midst. Not by Goyishe persecution, not by apikorsim, Reform, Conservative or Modern Orthodox, it was from our own אחים במצוות.
The Satan was able to be so successful, under a guise of Measles and Doctors and Pikuach Nefashos, and thousands of Bachurim, Girls, and families were thrown out. It was not a two-sided war. The people who did not vaccinate recognized the right of the others to vaccinate, if they want to follow their doctor, that’s fine. But those people that followed their Doctors went and waged a war against the other people.
Now, how did we go so wrong? Didn’t the media hype us up that this is a question of life and death? The answer is this move was against the Da’as of the Gedolei Torah here in America. The gist of their message was אל תגעו במשיחי, do not start up with תינוקות של בית רבן (Shabbos קיט:).
Now, if you would ask a regular frum Yid in the street, who is the Zkan hador here in America that is most popular and known by the המון עם, who would they say? I asked a number of people they all gave me the same answer, “Reb Shmuel Kamenetzky Shlit”a”.
And who you say is an active Rosh Yeshiva, who is today one of the biggest lamdonim we have in America today. (Though, I am not someone to measure, one must be lamdan to measure lomdus, But Harav Birnbaum z”l told me about him, “Er iz a lamdan”. “He is a lamdan.”) Reb Elya Ber Wacthfogel from South Fallsburg. He is definitely one of the top. In addition, the largest Yeshiva in America is the Lakewood Yeshiva, and it’s Rosh Yeshiva is Harav Malkiel Kotler. So over here we have the זקן הדור; and one of the biggest Lamdonim in our Dor; and the Rosh Yeshiva of the largest number of Talmidei Chachamim in America, and we should understand that רבש”ע gives siyata dishmaya to such people and all of them said אל תגעו במשיחי!! Don’t throw them out! Unfortunately, we got מבוהל and followed the Satan and didn’t listen to them. And to the extent of מלבין פני חבירו ברבים that is אביזרייהו דרציחה! Such type of events caused the חורבן בית המקדש!
Such an event was unprecedented in our history, and rocked the world to its foundations. The Gemara in מסכת בבא קמא tells us that when two חשמונאי brothers were embroiled in civil war and one army had Yerushalayim besieged, the people on the inside would lower a basket full of coins and the army outside would send up the animals needed for Korbanos. One day the army sent up a Chazir instead of the Korban and “Eretz Yisrael shuddered 400 parsa by 400 parsa”.” נזדעזע ארץ ישראל ד’ מאות פרסה על ד’ מאות פרסה””. The Gemara is telling us that some sacrileges are so perverse, so extreme, that they rock the universe to its foundations. For the first time in our history thousands of children were thrown out of our midst by their own brothers! The world shakes from things like this! That’s the חומר הדברים! In Yiddish it called a “Himmel Geshrei”. And the geshrei did not go unanswered.
In Shamayim they said; we sent them out from their 1)Yeshivos, 2) shuls, 3) chasuna halls, and 4) did not allow them visitors, all because of a virus, 6) I will send you out from these same places because of a Virus. And for this Virus there is no vaccine for. You sent you them out because they did not have a vaccine; I will send you out with a virus that has no vaccine. The media wrote against these people non-stop. The Da’as of the Gedolei Torah was not reckoned with in the media at all. It was not given credibility even as two דיעות. 8)So Hashem said for speaking Lashon Hara, Motzei Shem Ra, and Halbonas Ponim, He sent a Virus that affects the lungs that enables us to speak.9) And for following the ways of the נחש who spoke lashon Hara; we lost our taste just like the נחש was punished with no sense of taste.
7)And Hashem sent a virus that was so highly contagious, because with that pretense we justified our actions in 2019, because as the doctors arbitrarily claimed in 2019 “measles is one of the most highly contagious diseases known to man”.
10) This virus caused many deaths as the Chofetz Chaim in his Introduction quotes from the Zohar, that Lashon Hara causes many deaths to occur. 11) Statistically, most of the deaths per population occurred in NY/ NJ area, because that was the hotspot where the Lashon Hara and Halbonas Ponim took place. That’s why New York and New Jersey suffered the most, 12) but the children were not affected, only the adults, because the children were the victims who were thrown out, and the adults who threw them out, or שהיה בידם למחות suffered the consequences. 13) And when these children were thrown out, who arranged tele- conferences for them? Who arranged worksheet packets to make sure they don’t fall behind in their learning? We did nothing for them! We didn’t think to provide them with tele-conferencing, or Zoom classes, they were neglected! Therefore, when the מלאך המוות came many times it was in the form of neglect, and not a casualty from the actual disease. 14)They were quarantined in their homes, so מדה כנגד מדה we were quarantined. 16) A מצורע must cover his mouth as it states,”על שפם יעטה” so everyone had to cover their mouth with masks. 15) And a מצורע must be socially distanced because he caused social distancing between others. בדד ישב מחוץ למחנה! 17) The measles outbreak lasted for 9-10 weeks so מדה כנגד מדה the Corona lockdown lasted for 9-10 weeks. 18)During the measles outbreak many ethnic minorities that serve as workers for us or the various schools were allowed free entry into our institutions; and specifically in our kitchens preparing the food we eat; without double-checking their immune status. No one asked them any questions! Only the תינוקות של בית רבן were deemed to be a danger. מדה כנגד מדה social distancing was not enforced when ethnic groups were protesting and rioting, but when Frum Yidden in Williamsburg made a Levaya, then the Mayor בכבוד ובעצמו comes down to the scene to enforce social distancing!
19)The name “COVID” is also not an accident, I heard from a תלמיד חכם that it’s from the Lashon of “שלא נהגו “כבוד” זה בזה” as it says by the תלמידי רבי עקיבה. Because of the lack of Kavod in 2019….
How Can We Fix This?
So here we have enumerated 19 questions about Corona, and one answer answers all of them; מדה כנגד מדה. And if you study the subject well, you will see some more. Now, how can we fix this up? The first thing it says in Halacha to do is to ask Mechila! So in the name of all who feel this travesty of justice, we would like to publicly ask Mechila for the אונאת דברים and הלבנת פנים of תשע”ט. Please be mochel us. We were mevuhal from the media that convinced us it was Pikuach Nefesh, we were sure we were 100% right. But הקב”ה in His infinite kindness showed us otherwise. כמה גדולה כחה של בושה! How awesome indeed is the power of בושה!
However, we cannot suffice with just asking mechila, we must do whatever we can to be מתקן the great עולה that was done to our brothers. Now, some of these children are still out of their Yeshiva, still locked out, therefore everyone who is able to is encouraged to speak to their schools to take back these children, and correct this travesty of justice.
Getting to the Roots
We must also study this further; how did we make such a mistake? How did such a grave error come about? How does it happen that the opinion of Gedolei Torah is בטל ומבוטל כעפרא דארעה? Their opinion wasn’t even on the table as a דיעה! To me it would seem, we listen too much to the media. The Rav would say, when people listen to the media, they get a head of the media, when they read the New York Times, they get a head like the New York Times. People think, “I follow the Jewish media, what could be wrong?”. But what makes it Jewish? Because a Jew produces it? The New York Times is also Jews! A frum Jew who is not mevatel his דעת to the גדולי תורה, his opinion should be shunned! Because we have listened to the media so much, we have become secularized, we respect professionals over גדולים. The media feeds us information and riles us up.
For us to do a real תשובה, it is not enough to just fix the חטא, we must go to the root. We must cut ties with the media, with the outside secularism. We must realize that if we fill our heads with the media the media is going to ruin us! May Hashem accept our תשובה, and may we be זוכה to the גאולה בב”א.
[Editor’s note: In a conversation with Rabbi Brog he elaborated on another two points 1) What is the idea of a “Second Wave” that the media is terrifying everyone about? He answered that מדה כנגד מדה because in the measles escapade people who were already vaccinated still suspected that they were not immune and with that pretense caused this world-shaking upheaval, so too now even after most of the world has already contracted it, people have been convinced to fear a second wave.(one can add that in the measles outbreak first they said the danger is 21 days, then they extended it to 42 days, and then it was still extended again, on the pretense of a fear of measles; so to now the Corona lockdown is constantly being extended on the pretense of fear of a second wave ]
[2) What is the massive pushback against legalizing the Hydroxychloroquine medication? Because people put their utmost faith in Doctors and the Medical establishment and nominated them as their leaders instead of Da’as Torah, those same leaders now cause peoples death and destruction with the withholding of a simple and cheap medication. One can add that מדה כנגד מדה, since Vitamin A is well known as a simple and cheap treatment for measles, yet this measure was not advertised or set into public health policy, rather fear tactics were used to try to force all to comply with medical directives or to be ejected from society, so too now a cheap and simple medication is being banned from public use, causing untold number of deaths].
Editor’s Note 2: The Gemara in Shabbos קיט: א”ר המנונה לא חרבה ירושלים אלא בשביל שביטלו בה תינוקות של בית רבן שנאמר שפוך על עולל בחוץ” “Rav Hamnuna said, Yerushalyim was only destroyed because they were מבטל children from their learning!”.
We have already written at length how the measles debacle was a travesty of בין אדם לחבירו, but we mustn’t forget the earthshattering consequences of ביטול תינוקות של בית רבן! The Gemara there continues “Every city that does not have children learning is put in Cherem”! And that is the Psak Halacha as set forth in the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch. What does to be in Cherem practically mean? Here is what the Rambam writes, (פ”ז הלכות ת”ת ה”ד) “What is the conduct that a Menuda (a form of excommunication) conducts himself, and others practice with him? …he cannot join a mezuman, and cannot be joined for a Minyan of 10 for any Mitzva that requires a Minyan(!), one cannot sit within his four amos, but he can teach Torah and be taught; if he dies in his excommunication Bais Din places a stone on his coffin, as if to say, he is being stoned because he is separated from the Tzibbur, and it goes without saying that we do not eulogize him or accompany his funeral. More than that is a Muchram (a more stringent form of excommunication), he cannot teach Torah and others cannot teach him, but he can learn himself so he should not forget his learning. We do not engage in commerce with him, hire him or work for him, one can only do minor business with him, for what is essential for his living.”
It seems shockingly evident that we were simply placed in Cherem from Shamayim, with so many of its Halachic details! But why would so many of us be put in Cherem? The answer seems clear from the Gemara’s words that we mentioned before; כל עיר שאין בה תינוקות של בית מחרימין אותו, the entire city is placed in Cherem, and these immutable words echo and ricochet through time and history.