SHOWDOWN: Despite Police Visit to Harav Chaim Kanievsky, the Rav Says That Yeshivas & Chadarim Cannot Be Closed

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Following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s announcement on Motzei Shabbos of the partial shutdown being imposed on Israeli citizens in wake of the spreading coronavirus, the Health Ministry issued a new order on Sunday morning, directing all yeshivos and kollelim to close down.

However, the yeshivos and kollelim were already opened for the day on Sunday and many chadarim opened as well as word spread that Hagadol Harav Chaim Kanievsky said that bittul Torah is more dangerous than the coronavirus.

Following the Health Ministry’s directives to close all schools, a principal of a cheder approached Harav Chaim and asked the Gadol what to do. Harav Chaim answered: “Continue learning as usual,” adding that the Health Ministry’s instructions in all other matters besides closing the chadarim and yeshivas should be strictly followed.

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Later, the principal returned and asked HaRav Chaim if he should follow this instruction even if the school is visited by police and fined. HaRav Chaim answered that Torah learning must continue as usual.

In light of the violation of the new restrictions, a group of senior police officers accompanied by Harav Naftali Halperin, the national halachic coordinator for Ichud Hatzalah, Harav Daniel Stern, the Rav of western Bnei Brak and Rav of Bnei Brak Hatzalah, Major General Kobi Partig, Community Relations Coordinator and ZAKA commander, Mendy Miller, secretary of the Ichud Hatzalah Halacha department and Harav Chananya Chollak, director of Ezer M’Tzion, visited the homes of Gedolei Yisrael to ask them to sign a document instructing their community to follow the instructions of the doctors and maintain proper hygiene, B’Chadrei Chareidim reported.

The group went to the homes of Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky, Harav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Harav Shimon Badanai, Harav Shmuel Eliezer Stern, Harav Yehudah Silman and Harav Sinai Halberstam.

At this stage it’s unclear whether the document will address the issue of closing the Talmudei Torah, yeshivos and kollelim. Following the meeting, the document will be publicized in the media and will appear in Chareidi newspapers on Monday.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)




37 COMMENTS

  1. What value is posting a short clip of bochurim learning? Please post a video of the exchange with Rav Kanievsky wherein he insists that Yidden must break the law. It is that clip that parents need to see to make an informed decision whether they want to risk lives by sending their children to cheder or not. Thanks.

  2. The Rav has sense. The government doesn’t.

    Covid 19 is nothing more than a slighting stronger version of the regular flu. Most people who get sick need, at most, over the counter medicine . Deaths are rare, and limited to people in poor health (just like regular flu). The rabbanim citing precedents for extreme measures are basing this on measures taken for diseases such as smallpox, bubonic plague or cholera which had high death rates and high infection rates affecting all ages.

  3. I don’t think it is our place to get involved in this and discuss the different opinions as of we have a say say at all. Are we halachik authorities?

    Everyone should just follow their Rav’s advice and keep their opinions to themselves.

  4. Assuming #akuperma is correct, the gedolim should post a rebuttal video explaining why people shouldn’t be concerned. If this doctor is on the record stating his medical, professional opinion, surely gedolei Torah can get out the message that all is well.
    Of course, all that is ignoring what is occurring in Italy as we speak. They too figured it was no big deal…..

  5. akuperma, when an elderly, immuno-compromised relative dies as a result of transmission by einekele, you can tell me what you think. coronavirus must be stopped before Israel is like Italy. Hopefully, we will defeat the virus and then reevaluate so-called daas toireh who opposes medical and government edicts.

  6. akuperma..you are out of your mind. Listen to the medical experts. People can learn and daven at home or they might end up dead which means they wont be able to daven or learn at all. Take your had out of the sand.

  7. To the ignoramuses above… The Gadol Hador Shlita did not say that there is nothing to fear from the new corona virus. Only that the amount of learning that would be stopped by shutting down yeshivos would be more dangerous than the damage the Corona may bring if it happen to spread in yeshivos. The latter has been proven fatal as we’ve seen many times in our history – a much higher percent than the fraction of a percent of people who have succumbed to corona.

    What the Rav Shlita didn’t mention is that the way people talk about the Gadol Hador can certainly be more dangerous than corona. People need to be very careful in what they say or even type anonymously on their keyboard.

  8. Would like to remind anyone here trying to argue with gedolei hador they should probably not be on this site in the first place…you are just digging a deeper hole into hell.

  9. A Gadol Hador on the level of Reb Chaim, is not something you can dismiss with more logical argument.

    The study of Torah has a super protection that is beyond Human comprehension and even if B’Derech Hateva one would normaly have gotten sick, he will have a shmira.

    Therefore, “Emunat Chachamim” is that if one as great as Reb Chaim says it will be worse then it will be worse!

    It’s not a simple as saying learn at home, we have all tried that, with our kids running around and our wives calling upon us every 10 minutes- it’s not the same.

    Am Yisrael, dont have Mazal like any other nation. Each one should follow their Rav, just make sure he has broad enough shoulders to take responsibility.

  10. Police Visit to Harav Chaim Kanievsky Something is amiss over here, because on Friday YWN stated that Harav Chaim Kanievsky is currently not receiving any visitors, so how did they get in to see the Godol haDor shlita?

  11. The Israeli government is causing total panic in the public. They don’t know what they are doing. R. Chaim shlita understands this.
    People should continue to learn, keep windows and doors open and enjoy fresh air. It will open their heads to their gemoras.

  12. Members of the Sanhedrin had to be younger for OBVIOUS REASONS. Pesak requires familiarity with the circumstances, something well beyond limmud ha-torah alone.

    This type of pesak should come from ROY or RZNG or others of that stature and familiarity with the reality

  13. Daniel I guess you are unaware of the Gemara that rabbi Akiva insisted that Jews break the law and he went around himself teaching Torah in public when there was a ban against Torah learning

  14. Dr Yiid: You wrote: Members of the Sanhedrin had to be younger for OBVIOUS REASONS.

    Reasons may be obvious to you, but what you say is not what the gemorrah in Sanhedrin says as Rashi explains it. Older Gedolim can be very familiar with the circumstances than you realize. Obviously you do not have a relationship with older gedolim.

    It pains me to see people throw around opinions on matters which are not in their area of expertise as if they are experts.
    If Reb Chaim says something either listen to a psak and if you do not want to, please do not publicize your lack of kovod and emunas chachomim.

  15. Yosey, I am distressed when a bizayon ha-torah results from the mindless belief in so-called daas toireh. This should cause anyone whose rationality is still intact to think deeply about what is happening.

    I never turn to RCK for pesak; as noted above, I prefer other poskim whose views I follow. They are walking examples of a kiddush ha-Shem

  16. This dialogue is very reminiscent of what happened starting in November 2018 in regard to the measles.
    Unfortunately just like the measles situation caused terrible machlokes, lashon hara, etc,. now we are falling into the same trip.

    Perhaps Hashem first sent the easier virus -measles – as a test case to see how Bnei Yisroel would react to each other when there were different opinions on the situation. Unfortunately Bnei Yisroel failed that test.

    So perhaps Hashem is sending us a more virulent virus – and an even harder test – to see how Bnei Yisroel will react to each other when there are different opinions on this situation.

    Rav Kanievsky, shlita, gave advice on how to protect one’s self from the coronavirus: “Everyone must be mechazek to refrain from Lashon Harah and rechilus.”

    I am very worried that if chas v’shalom, we fail this second test, we may not be given another chance.
    Please please keep your opinions to yourself and let those in charge handle the situation.
    We will be “adding fuel to the fire” if we get involved in machlokes and lashon hara for a second time.

  17. Wow! Its striking that those flaunt the advice of the Gadol Hador and claim to be smarter. These are people who clealy don’t believe in the Aibishta or his holy Torah but rather their emunah is in political officials and so-called scientist. This is the chutzpah yasgeh discussed in the Gemara. The eirav rav will certainly go in the way that they did in last weeks parsha.

  18. The Israeli government is following the advice of public health experts in EY and just about every other country in the world. With all respect to rabbonim and askanim,, this is no time to debate the merits of open versus close. Shut the yeshivos down immediately for the protection of the talmidim, their families and the overall tzibur.

  19. If you watch the video of them asking Rav Chaim, it is quite clear from the way they phrased the question that is what he would say. Had the question been asked in a more honest and full manner it seems to me quite clearly his answer would have been different.

  20. Kol HaKVod to the Rav. The no work no public events are illogical people are not going to be in solitary confinement in their homes its just not working people will have contact regardless.

  21. just out of curiosity, do all those who will follow Rav Chaim’s psak about corona follow ALL his other psakim? such as: payos not behind the ears, not wearing a watch etc. to mention a few????
    if you follow ALL his psakim, then follow this one too, but you can’t pick and choose what SUITS YOU.
    from the clip that i saw of his grandson asking him if chedorim and yeshivos closing – it did not seem as if he was briefed about the dangers of corona before giving his answer.
    ps. my husband is till going to kollel, my teenage boys are still in yeshiva, and my 9 year old is in cheder.
    my girls are home
    The Eida Chareidis (Moro d’Asra of Yerushalayim) convened after being briefed on the situation and gave the psak that kollelim, yeshivos and cheders should continue learning. Girls schools are closed since this is not bitul torah – the cheder boys should learn in small groups.
    Either way, denigrating rabbonim is not going to bring nachas to Hkb”H

  22. bronxyid – ask any Gabbai for an honest answer and he will tell you that in matters like this, people come to the Rebbe or Gadol with their answer in hand, often a letter to be signed, and phrase the question accordingly. HaRav Chaim has no idea what the coronavirus is. Anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling himself and hiding behind the curtain of “gedolei Yisroel have to be respected at any and all cost”.

  23. I would humbly suggest that any news item involving Rav Chaim Kanievsky or any other Godol Hatorah should be closed for posting.

    We are not meant to pass an opinion on what Godol Batorah says.

  24. YWN please close comments. R Chaim said very clearly that being careful in loshon horah is what Shomayim is telling us. As per shulchan oruch (e.g. OC 472:5 etc etc), a talmid chochom muflag bdoro is everyone’s Rebbe muvhak and you have to obey his psak.

  25. Chilli, et al.

    With all due respect, you and many others seem to be confused:

    This matter has very little to do with how and who you ask “all” your shailos.
    Your minhagim is based on your own mesorah or how your mesorah paskens Halacha etc.

    The matter in concern, is not an issue of black and white psak or minhag, rather, its based on what we call:

    “Da’as Torah!”

    Which means one who sees through the prism of his ENTIRE torah knowledge and avodas hashem. Its not something that goes well with Daas Baal Habayis (שהוא היפך דעת תורה)

    Similar to this we find in the poskim; when the Rambam pens his psak with the words “יראה לי” , you don’t exactly argue with him, as it means he’s basing his psak on his entire torah knowledge -not one specific..

    In times like these many, even the most professionals are in confusion, from leaders to dr’s. People are in panic. People are driven by anxiety etc. Every day regulations change.

    Yes, we have the merit of having a gadol and שר התורה who has been connected to the torah literally his entire life.

    Hg’ Rav Chaim Shlita sees differently than the simpleton commentator sees.

    He sees:
    עת צרה הוא!
    תורה מגינא ומצילא!
    וכל זמן שיש קול יעקב

    We have the protection of Torah.

    Once the Torah ceases…..

    Who and what will be protecting us?
    The Gov? The Professionals?

    Don’t kid yourself!

    NO ONE can predict what tomorrow will bring.
    (Note: some are saying 5 weeks, some two, some till Aug..???)

    B”H we have someone to guide us with clarity.

  26. DrYidd:.
    “Members of the Sanhedrin had to be younger for OBVIOUS REASONS. Pesak requires familiarity with the circumstances”

    Hmm is that your own “young” pshat? or is it something you read?
    I don’t recall any such pshat in any of the commentators.

    Also זקן, I recall, according to many does not mean old, it means one who’s old ane has no children, see Pirush Mishnayot of Rambam in Horiyot..

  27. G, you remember incorrectly. it is old or childless. In any case, Torah learning can go on in small groups in private homes. If learning protects why did all of chutznikim run back when the First Gulf War started? Why did yeshivot flee the south when missiles flew from Gaza?

    Chili, a chillul Hashem also dies not bring nachat. BTW, the Baal haTanya opposed asking rabbanim questions about secular matters. This is not their forte (unless, of course, they also have some secular profession) and takes them away from learning. Rav Aharon Lichtenstein also said that there is no such thing as daat Torah. Apparently this is why the gedolim have courtiers who make these decisions. Rav Kanievsky wrote explicitly that he signs what he is told to sign.

  28. etzhar and Ash, there is a little “X” on the top right of the webpage. You can press that if you are offended by YWN having a comments section, offended if there are pictures of women, offended if not every news story is about Jewish news occurring in the NYC area. There are so many other outlets, just as Rav Chaim isn’t online, perhaps that’s something reflective to consider.

  29. Was this clip edited/doctored to prove a point? I find it hard to believe this is what the Rav MEANT. Perhaps he meant that OFFICIALLY, Yeshivas remain open, but talmidim should learn in a different way. Of course, if they were allowed Internet they could learn via Skype or Zoom or something. But they can always use their secret smartphones (I saw many on the plane last week pulling out BOTH phones!)

    There are ways to learn – even over a Kosher phone. But perhaps for some people, it’s easier to make a shturm & fight the instructions. It’s certainly more fun, isn’t it?

  30. This episode reveals that “follow daas Torah no matter what” is silly, dangerous, and even counter the Torah’s directions to “nishmartem liod.”

    RCK is a gaon baTorah, but not a gaon bimedicine, public health, virology.

    One last thing. We know ain somchin al hanes. God tells us, if you’re doing an activity which kills 10% of people who try it, don’t say, because I study Torah my odds of death are only 0.1%. It doesn’t work that way. You’re the same flesh and blood as the others who have a 10% risk. Hamayvin yovin.

    We’ve learned that the hard way in this situation.

    The gabbaim who keep the “daas Torah” “directives” flowing from RCK should be charged with hundreds of counts of manslaughter.