The leader of the Vishnitz Hasidic sect, Rabbi Israel Hager, on Saturday condemned people who report on ultra-Orthodox school openings and mass events in violation of coronavirus regulations, referring to them as “snitches.”
“One must bitterly condemn and harshly protest any Jews who raise a hand against the Torah of Moses,” said Hager, a member of the Council of Torah Sages of the Hasidic Agudat Yisrael party. “To interfere with a Jew holding a celebration is offensive and unacceptable on principle,” adding: “The mental and spiritual harm caused by the closure of schools is unbearable” and must not be tolerated again.
Hager said the biblical imperative “Take good heed unto yourselves,” frequently quoted by Orthodox Jews to justify social distancing and closure rules, does not warrant the interruption of Torah study. “And what does it accomplish when police, who are supposed to protect the public, show up and assault people, act violently, showing no mercy, all because of some scoundrel who went and snitched," Hager said.
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In recent months, Hager and his followers have frequently violated the coronavirus regulations and held mass events and prayer services. At the end of Yom Kippur, police arrived and made arrests at one such event attended by hundreds of Hager’s followers. Last week the leader participated in a massive wedding held at a Hasidic house of study in Bnei Brak.
Other massive wedding celebrations have been held among other ultra-Orthodox Hasidic sects. At a wedding held by the Toldot Aharon Hasidic sect last week, organizers attempted to prevent “leaks” and guests were asked to come in through side entrances and to wear everyday clothes, but the ritual bath was opened so the men could change into their wedding finery.