Rav Chaim Kanievsky

Question

Shalom aleichem Rabbi Lauffer. Thank you for answering my last question. Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky famously paskened that no Batei Midrash or yeshivos should be closed during the pandemic, only to retract his psak soon after when thousands became infected because of his mistaken psak. Can Rabbi Kanievsky be relied upon anymore in Torah matters, given his incorrect psak on this matter, which he was forced to retract? Thanks a lot.

5 months

Answers

  1. I hope, but fear otherwise, that your question is not serious. I truly hope that you are not casting aspersions on the standing of one of the Gedolei HaDor. That would be a very serious error – even for someone of equal Torah scholarship – to make.

    In all events, Judaism does not believe in infallibility – that unrealistic idea is something that is left for other religions to subscribe to. That means that mistakes are made, and have always been made, within Psak Din. The possibility is nothing new. The Torah designates a special offering for when mistaken rulings are made by the Sanhedrin.

    Together with that caveat, Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s psak was very clear. That, at the onset of the virus, Batei Kenesisos and Batei Medrashios should remain open so long as those using them abide by the rulings of the Israel Health Ministry. That meant that masks should be used at all times. Unfortunately, many people ignored the second part of what he said and only focused on the first part. When the Health Ministry approached Rav Chaim Kanievsky and explained that it was no longer viable for the Batei Kenesisos and Batei Medrashios to remain open, he then ruled in accordance to what the experts were telling him.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team