The religious-secular divide in Israel has been highlighted like never before amid the coronavirus pandemic because our Minister of Health, the man responsible for guiding us through the crisis, is an ultra-Orthodox Jew.
In daily press briefings he employs the vocabulary of the religious sector of Jewish society. And earlier this month in a radio interview the 71-year-old Yaakov Litzman addressed the overall situation thus: “I am sure that the Messiah will come by Passover and save us the same way God saved us during the Exodus.”
In other words, our Minister of Health is relying more on divine deliverance than he is on the scientific efforts of the healthcare system that he oversees.
For many Israelis, and especially leading doctors in the country, such statements are both incomprehensible and inappropriate.
“Mr. Litzman told us that the Messiah will save us from the coronavirus. As a psychiatrist, Ihave had people committed to psychiatric hospitals for less,” wrote Prof. Yoram Yovell, a world-renowned Israeli psychiatrist and neurobiologist,...