JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel’s chief rabbi has called on the nation to humble itself before God and fast amid the coronavirus outbreak that has brought the Jewish State to a grinding halt.
Chief Rabbi David Lau wrote a letter Sunday urging all of Israel to fast until midnight on Wednesday “to remove the coronavirus disease from our midst.”
"Difficult days are affecting all of Israel and the entire world," wrote Lau. "At this time, it is on us to do some soul-searching."
Rabbi Lau wants Israelis to examine their relationship with God and those around them. For those who are unable to fast due to health reasons, he encourages them to practice "ta'anit dibur," abstaining from any speech that does not revolve around the Torah or prayer.
The chief rabbi’s letter instructs municipal rabbis to hold prayers on Wednesday at synagogues throughout the country. However, these prayer meetings must abide by the Health Ministry’s rules that limits gatherings to 10 people and orders people to stay two meters apart.
"The good Lord will listen to our prayers and answer us and redeem us from all the harsh decrees, He will save in His great mercy his people Israel and all the children of the world who need it. A petition looking to Divine Mercy," concluded Lau.
As of Tuesday morning, 1,656 Israelis have been infected with COVID-19. Of those cases, 31 are serious. The Health Ministry reported that 47 people are in moderate condition and the majority are mild cases.
One person, an elderly Holocaust survivor, has died from the disease.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a seven-hour meeting on Monday with officials from the Health and Finance ministries on Monday to discuss implementing harsher isolation orders.
Israeli media reported Netanyahu would announce on Tuesday these new restrictions, which reportedly includes a full shut down of public transportation, limiting how far civilians can move away from their homes. All stores will be shut, except grocery stores and pharmacies.
Police will reportedly be called on to enforce these rules.
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