Israelis have lost faith that their leaders can successfully navigate the nation through the mounting coronavirus crisis.
All along the rabbis have been shouting that the only way to really beat COVID-19 is Divine intervention.
On Saturday evening, Israel’s most prominent Orthodox rabbi reiterated that message, urging his followers to pray for the coming of the Messiah.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky (pictured) is considered one of the leaders of the overall ultra-Orthodox Jewish movement in Israel. In the early days of the coronavirus crisis, he was panned by the secular public for keeping yeshivas and synagogues open, a policy that many say contributed to the rapid spread of the disease. He later changed his tune after government officials explained to him the true danger of COVID-19, at which point Kanievsky ruled that it was pikuch nefesh (the Jewish imperative to put saving lives before anything) to adhere to the guidelines coming out of the Ministry of Health.
But that was before the outbreak of the second wave of coronavirus infections that have hit Israel over the past two months, reaching an all-time high on Saturday, when 8,315 new infections were recorded. Currently, around 15 percent of all COVID-19 tests in Israel are returning positive.
It seems that Kanievsky, like so many other Israelis, no longer believes that the policies of the Health Ministry are capable of lifting Israel out of its present predicament.
When asked on Saturday evening by the chief rabbi of the town of Modi’in Illit what Israelis must do to be saved and have a good coming year, Kanievsky said simply: “Pray for Messiah to come.”
According to other rabbinical sources in his circle, Rabbi Kanievsky is among those who believe that the Messiah is already here, but has yet to reveal himself.