I cannot be quiet any longer. While I will not mention any names of cult members in this article, I have decided that I must write against a few people in the Torah world – some of whom are my friends! – who write, text, Tweet, and post about what they call the “alleged COVID crisis.” To them, this is not a pandemic, but a PLANdemic, designed by wicked people such as Bill Gates, Binyamin Netanyahu, and those who support the New World Order. They refer to anyone who is involved as Amalek and have made videos and posts that anyone who davens with a mask (which they call a face diaper) as worshipping avodah zarah. I am not kidding nor exaggerating. This is exactly what they say, and their little group of cult followers are very vocal in the world of social media. I’m sure this article will be blasted by all these cult members who seem to have nothing better to do all day than spread their ideology of lies, deceit, and nonsense.
Please don’t misunderstand me. When I use the word “cult” – I mean it! Yes, these people are shomer Shabbos, keep kosher, and seem like Torah Jews – like you and me – but they are all huddled together in this conspiracy cult that has blurred their rational thinking. I’m sure you know many of them. They proudly parade without masks, ignore all social distancing rules, and will send you videos of fellow weirdos who “prove” their position. These cult members jump for joy when they find ONE rabbi who agrees with them and will send his article/video to every person they know. Then a few days later they will find ONE doctor or professor who agrees with them and, once again, will post and email the position of that doctor or professor to the entire world. I know all about this because, as stated above, I have some friends who are cult members and they constantly email me this nonsense.
Last week, a rabbi from New Jersey came out supporting their position and, within minutes, my inbox was full of messages: “Shmuel, you have to watch this great rabbi and how he agrees with us… you see, I told you!” When I asked them who this rabbi is, nobody knows (an “overnight” gadol ha’dor?). I then proceed to tell them that the Torah path is about choosing one rav and being educated by him – not first finding your position and then looking for a rav who agrees with you! I told them that you can probably find a rav somewhere for almost anything, but we don’t follow the “smorgasbord” style of rabbis. We don’t pick and choose different rabbanim based on their positions. The same is true with the medical world. Of course you will find a doctor in Finland or a professor in Canada or some research in Kenya that proves your point, but – at the same time – you cannot ignore the hundreds of thousands of doctors and professors who completely reject these claims!
Lately, the utter nonsense that has been spewed by the members of this cult has been incredible. They actually wrote that if you daven while wearing a mask, you are guilty of worshipping idols. I immediately emailed them pictures of Rav Shmuel Eliyahu davening while wearing a mask – and told them how Rav Yisrael Ariel is always with a mask, as is Rav Eliezer Melamed, Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon, Rav David Stav, Rav Yisrael Meir Lau, Rav Zev Leff, Rav Hershel Schachter, and thousands more; so are these g’dolim guilty of worshiping idols, Heaven forbid??
The problem with this cult is the fact that they are very active on social media and I know that weak people will follow their sick ideas. Cult leaders always attack the weak and this is no different. Because of the nonsense being spread, certain people have been convinced to stop following the safety guidelines. This has resulted in many people getting sick and even dying, and I hold this group accountable for their deaths! Several shuls in Monsey, Brooklyn, and Beit Shemesh (just to name a few) used to follow the guidelines but were convinced not to take them seriously anymore. The cult was very happy to have found “new members” – only to find out that several of these new recruits actually contracted and died from COVID! When I confronted the main guru of this cult, he told me that they died because of the terrible care in the hospital. He knows the cure to COVID, but nobody listened to him, so it was the hospital that killed him and he had no hand in it. He then started explaining to me that this was all planned by Bill Gates and that even Bibi Netanyahu had a hand in the evil plan. I am not making this up.
So, dearest friends, I beg you to stop wasting your time with these people. Do not read their emails, do not watch their videos, and – most importantly – do not listen to their “advice.” They are dangerous, and many people who listen to them will get sick and die. I am telling you this straight, with no sugar coating. Stay far away from the anti-maskers and their cult of followers who thrive on their conspiracy theories. They are to be avoided at all costs.
I am certain that hundreds of emails will be sent to me calling me every name in the book, but I don’t care. I am not running for public office and don’t need anyone’s friendship or love. I am interested in saving Jewish lives, and if just one life is saved because I convinced someone to stay away from these irrational thinkers, it will have all been worth it.
Shmuel Sackett is a 100% product of Queens. He was born in Middle Village and moved to KGH shortly before his bar-mitzvah. He graduated from YCQ (1975) and YHSQ (1979). He was Havurat Yisrael’s first Youth Director (4 years) and started the first 2 NCSY chapters in Queens. Shmuel made aliyah in 1990 and co-founded Manhigut Yehudit, together with Moshe Feiglin. His website is www.JewishIsrael.org Sackett is married with 6 children and 4 grandchildren. He lives in Herziliya Pituach.