The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has urged people to stay at home during the coronavirus crisis, saying they have a “religious and moral imperative to do so.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, Rabbi Mirvis said: “the Talmud teaches: ‘If you save one life, it is as if you’ve saved the whole world’. Every single one of us can now achieve this lofty objective in a very simple way. All we need to do is stay at home.”
Reflecting on the Queen’s offer of thanks to NHS staff on Sunday night, as well as the nationwide clapping in thanks for them, he added that gratitude was a “key element” of Pesach.
He said: “The Hebrew word for ‘thank you,’ is ‘modeh’, which means ‘admit’. This is because, in order to express gratitude sincerely, one needs to acknowledge that one could not have succeeded alone.
“That is why it is sometimes difficult for people to say thank you, as it is hard to admit one’s reliance on others. Indeed, that is what makes this rare unanimity of thanksgiving so extraordinary.
"All of us feel immense gratitude to those who, right now, are placing themselves in harm’s way for our benefit."
He continued: “Jewish tradition teaches that our freedom is of no value unless it is accompanied by responsibility.
“I have no doubt that the heroes in our hospitals would readily trade the public displays of gratitude of recent weeks for more people behaving responsibly through following Government instructions to protect ourselves and others.”