The Grand Rabbi of Israel’s second largest Chasidic sect has penned an opinion piece arguing that teachers should endanger their lives in order to continue teaching Jewish children the Torah, despite the national lockdown.
Writing in Israel’s Hamodia last week, Vizhnitz Rabbi Yisroel Hager said: “The pandemic is from God and has nothing to do with nature. What we need to do is pray more and be more pious.
“Life is important but much more important is spiritual life and serving God… If people care for their physical health, them they need to be much more careful about their spiritual health.
“The schools are the bedrock of Charedi society. One needs to endanger one’s life for the teaching of Torah for kids, like my father did during World War II. The Greeks wanted to stop us from learning Torah, but we risked our lives and did it anyway.
“The government has closed our schools, even though they are allowing many other activities that they regard as essential. Therefore, we who regard our children’s education as essential need to do whatever we can to keep that going.”
Hager hit the headlines in November for denouncing Jews who report violations of restrictions meant to contain the coronavirus.
“Cry out bitterly and strongly protest against all those Jews who snitch and inform on other Jews who open schools or hold celebrations,” he said. “To interfere with another Jew holding a celebration is offensive and fundamentally unacceptable.”
He added that the closure of Charedi schools had caused “unbearable spiritual and material damage” and vowed that they would not close again.
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