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During COVID-19 pandemic, the Haredi poskim (for example Rav Dovid Feinstein) allowed minyanim to gather as soon as permitted by authorities. However, Modern Orthodox poskim (for example Rav Hershel Schechter) decided to be more machmir on the mitzvah of Venishmartem and wait additional time before allowing any minyanim to gather. Both Modern Orthodox and Haredi halachic decisions were made with the full understanding of facts and scientific/medical advice.

What is the underlying root cause for Modern Orthodox's highly unusual stringency and Haredi highly unusual leniency in the mitzvah of Venishmartem during COVID-19 pandemic?

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    "[T]he Haredi poskim [...] allowed minyanim to gather as soon as permitted by authorities. However, Modern Orthodox poskim ... " My understanding is that this is not as universal as you're making it out to be. (It doesn't match my own experience either, which includes counterexamples in both directions.) – Rish Jun 8 at 4:03
  • How is this question more opinion-based than any other question on causes behind opposing halachic decisions? – Tesvov Jun 10 at 16:06
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Perhaps the root case of the difference between Modern Orthodox and Haredi decisions is their different approaches to Bitachon and Hishtadlus. Assuming a zero-sum game basis, more Bitachon requires less Hishtadlus and vice-versa.

Because Haredi philosophy places a greater weight on serving G-d through Bitachon, less emphasis is placed on Hishtadlus. Therefore, a higher degree of risk is acceptable when evaluating the requirements of the mitzvah of Venishmartem.

Conversely, since Modern Orthodox philosophy places a greater weight on serving G-d through Hishtadlus, a lesser degree of risk is acceptable when evaluating the requirements of the mitzvah of Venishmartem.

Similarly, Modern Orthodox philosophy places greater importance on education as means of earning a living, as opposed to the Haredi approach of relying more on Bitachon and less on Hishtadlus in preparing one to earn a living.

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  • I think you misunderstood modern orthodoxy. It's yeshivish people that put an emphasis on education to earn a living. Modern orthodox people emphasize education for its own sake. Education makes better people and hence better ovdei hashem – Double AA Jun 9 at 1:36
  • Double AA - what is the source for modern orthodoxy's stance on education for its own sake? – Tesvov Jun 9 at 19:07
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I disagree with the premises. The Chareidi community did not understand scientific and medical advice. Instead, they practiced street minyanim on Shabbat which caused two things: (1) it helped spread the coronavirus and (2) police had to desecrate Shabbat in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The question asked why charedim showed a lack of response in comparison to Modern Orthodoxy, who maintained social distancing. Partly this lack of response to coronavirus was due to flawed Chareidi leadership. Rav Chaim Kanievksy and Gershon Edelstein mistakenly said that the “Torah Protects” and that “canceling yeshivah is more dangerous than coronavirus.” This could not be further from the truth.

For further information about charedim lack of response to the coronavirus pandemic, please see this essay here on "Torah protects" and this essay here on street minyanim by Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin.

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    One has to be very careful how one judges Torah leadership on so open a forum, irrespective of one's personal views. – Dov Jun 8 at 8:48
  • The question was not about the initial reaction to coronavirus – Jay Jun 8 at 16:21

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