HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky said on Tuesday evening that educators who haven’t been vaccinated should not be teaching.
HaRav Chaim made the statement during the visit of coronavirus czar Prof. Salman Zarka to his home, a visit made in the wake of the rising infection rate in the Chareidi sector.
During the meeting. Prof. Zarka brought up the issue of melamdim and girls’ teachers in the Chareidi community who still haven’t been vaccinated, especially those who teach young children who can’t be vaccinated. HaRav Chaim responded that it’s forbidden for those involved in chinuch not to be vaccinated and said that principals must suspend them from their positions.
HaRav Chaim also said at the meeting that everyone must strive and be cautious in every way possible not to contract COVID or infect others and adhere to COVID regulations due to the din of “V’nishmartem”
Prof. Zarka requested HaRav Chaim’s bracha for the success of the vaccination campaign in mosdos chinuch and the Gadol’s encouragement to adults to be vaccinated with the booster shot. The booster shot, which as of Tuesday is available to all Israelis age 30 and above, is proving to be highly effective in preventing infection and serious illness.
HaRav Chaim said that the vaccinations are Siyata Dishmaya and everyone should be immunized to prevent bittul Torah and illness.
Prof. Zarka, who is Druze, told HaRav Chaim that when the Meron disaster occurred, he was still serving as the director of Ziv Hospital in Tzfat, where many of the injured were evacuated. HaRav Chaim thanked and blessed him for the hatzalas chaim he was a part of.
HaRav Chaim’s directive that unvaccinated teachers should be suspended quickly spread on Israeli media. The secular Ynet site stated: Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a prominent figure in the Lithuanian branch of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, is considered one of the world’s most revered rabbis and many within his community consider his rulings to require total compliance.
“Teachers and educators who have not been vaccinated must not come to teach,” Rabbi Kanievsky said. “Vaccines are a godsend and must be taken to prevent Bitul Torah [wasting time that could be spent on religious studies] and illness.”
[HaRav Chaim’s] latest statement carries significant weight as educators enjoy a special social status among the ultra-Orthodox community as those who pass on the word of the Torah to the next generation.
The Health Ministry hopes that the pressure from the “Prince of Torah” would help persuade thousands of educators who were thus far hesitant to get the vaccine.