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)