(Courtesy of Touro College) More than 600 medical professionals and medical students tuned in last month to hear a special Zoom shiur presented by HaGaon Harav Asher Weiss shlita, focused on halachic guidance and inspiration for those on the front lines during COVID-19. HaRav Weiss is the inaugural recipient of the Rabbi Raphael Zalman HaCohen Levine Distinguished Talmudic Scholar Award, presented by Touro and generously endowed by Joel Margolis of Albany, New York.
Dr. Alan Kadish, Touro president, opened the program by noting that the date was the 11th yahrzeit of Touro founder, Dr. Bernard Lander, and the program was a fitting tribute. “Dr. Lander’s dream was to see Touro emerge as the destination of choice for frum students seeking a superior education in the sciences and medicine, without ever having to compromise on their religious observance,” Kadish said. “This is a culmination of that vision.
“To respond to the current pandemic, we need top medical training and techniques, strong belief in Hashem and the spiritual facet of healing,” Kadish continued. “Rav Asher Weiss exemplifies all aspects of dealing with medical illness under Hashem’s guidance.”
Rav Weiss began by pointing to the common goal shared by rabbis and doctors. “They are both shepherd’s of Hashem’s flock who dedicate their lives to helping others, body and soul—guf and neshama.”
He then shared numerous medical halachic questions posed to him over the last year relating to allocation of funds for hospitals versus Jewish communal causes during desperate times, medical professionals who put their lives on the line during a pandemic and vaccine prioritization.
Torah and Science—the Jewish View
Rav Weiss moved on to a discussion of the Jewish view of Torah and science. “These two spheres do not fight each other; they must interact and coexist. Halacha follows mainstream medical opinions, especially when dealing with pikuach nefesh,” said Rav Weiss. “This means vaccinating when the overwhelming scientific evidence says it saves lives.
“Touro College is a place where Torah and science connect … where students are trained to be top medical professionals with an understanding of the latest techniques; and also to seek halachic guidance on medical and ethical issues when appropriate; and above all, to make a kiddush Hashem in their daily practice and interaction with other professionals and patients,” continued Rav Weiss.
He closed with a bracha to all young medical and health science students to continue their endeavor of learning medicine combined with halacha. “This is the Jewish approach to medicine— caring for spiritual and psychological needs in tandem with patients’ medical needs. Lechu B’kochachem Zeh Vihoshatem Es Yisrael.”
Rav Weiss is publishing a new sefer as part of Minchas Asher that will include 160 shailos and teshuvos on the halachic application to COVID-19. The sefer is sponsored by Touro, as part of the Rabbi Raphael Zalman HaCohen Levine Distinguished Talmudic Scholar Award.
To listen to Rav Weiss’s shiur for medical professionals visit www.landertorah.com.