Justifications for Medical Quarantine in Jewish Ethics

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The current Corona epidemic broke out at the end of 2019 and by early in the year 2020 was spreading all around the world from China to the USA. Among the moves in the fight against the proliferation of the illness, international borders were closed to prevent travel among countries. In the next stage in the fight, many countries imposed quarantines on carriers of the disease as well as on those around them and even on entire civilian populations. Herein, I offer the religious justifications in Judaism for preserving the public’s health in general and particularly in the face of disease, especially during of the course of an epidemic. Similarly, I also deal with the religious requirements for preventing the spread of an illness, which come at the expense of fulfilling religious commandments (mitzvot) and suspending them with a view toward preserving life. My conclusion is that ever since the time of the Bible, Judaism has viewed the maintenance of health as having social, religious, and medical importance. Rabbis over the last centuries have justified separating and isolating the sick and extending that isolation to individuals who are in danger of succumbing to the illness. They have found religious justifications for issuing instructions to suspend religious observances in order to prevent the spread of a disease, as is the case in the epidemic that the world is now experiencing with the Corona virus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2678-2691
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Ethics
  • Isolation
  • Judaism
  • Quarantine


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