He at first dismissed, if not completely ignored the government’s guidelines for curbing the coronavirus outbreak. Now, one of Israel’s top rabbis is threatening “persecution” for any religious Jews who violate the quarantine.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky 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 over the past two weeks.
But after government officials approached him personally to convey the true danger of COVID-19, Kanievsky quickly changed his tune, and now considers it pikuch nefesh (the Jewish imperative to put saving lives before anything) to adhere to the guidelines coming out of the Ministry of Health.
The religious news portal Kipa reported on Sunday that Rabbi Kanievsky had issued a decree warning that “anyone who does not heed the instructions of the doctors – he will be persecuted!”
The rabbi’s decree further obligated members of the ultra-Orthodox community to inform the Police should any of their neighbors violate the quarantine.