NEW YORK (VINnews/Sandy Eller) – One day after Israel’s coronavirus czar, news outlets and social media were quick to denigrate Rav Chaim Kanievsky for reportedly offering a blanket ruling that yeshiva students do not need to be tested for COVID-19, comes word that the venerated rabbi’s remarks were taken completely out of context.

As first reported in a Mishpacha web exclusive (, Rabbi Kanievsky had been asked whether yeshiva students who had completed a mandatory two week quarantine and were not showing any COVID symptoms should be retested before being released into their yeshiva’s capsule system.

Rabbi Nechemya Malinowitz, chairman of the Coalition of Yeshivas and Seminaries for Bnei Chul and Israeli director of Eretz Hakodesh, explained that all students entering Israeli yeshivas must be tested for coronavirus before beginning their quarantine.  Once the quarantine is completed, students are released into a capsule system in groups of 45 and are not permitted to leave the yeshiva until after Yom Kippur.

“They are completely locked up,” Rabbi Malinowitz told VIN News.  “They don’t go in or out at all.”

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According to Rabbi Malinowitz, concerns arose after Yeshivas Chevron completed its initial quarantine and the entire student body of over 1,000 was tested again for coronavirus.  Two students tested positive, prompting the possibility of a second round of quarantine until it was determined that the results were incorrect and that the entire yeshiva was indeed COVID-free.

With multiple yeshivas completing their two weeks of seclusion, the suggestion was made to have everyone retested, said Rabbi Malinowitz, and the decision was made to ask Rabbi Kanievsky how to proceed.

“Nobody was sick,” said Rabbi Malinowitz. “Nobody had any symptoms.  They had just finished a two week quarantine and that was the question that was brought to Rav Chaim who said there was no reason to do the testing.  And the media jumped and said ‘Rav Chaim said that yeshiva students shouldn’t be tested for coronavirus.’”

A Wednesday Times of Israel ( headline read, “Top Orthodox rabbi says yeshiva students shouldn’t take COVID-19 tests” and YNet News (  reported that Israeli coronavirus czar Professor Ronni Gamzu had commented on the matter during a visit to Beitar Ilit.

“Rabbi Kanievsky’s statements are endangering the ultra-Orthodox community amid an ongoing pandemic,” said Gamzu.

As social media began lighting up on Wednesday with criticisms, others leaped to Rabbi Kanievsky’s defense, including former B’Chadrei Charedim editor Avi Greenzeig who explained on Twitter that the ruling was referring to a group of students who “are not part of a risk group, not going home and there is no concern that they will be infected. According to the Rav, there is no danger here and only a waste of time that could be spent learning Torah and preventing headaches for the yeshivas.”

Israeli journalist and commentator Yitzhak Nachshoni also offered his support on Twitter saying, “the yeshivas are completely locked down until Yom Kippur.  So why the need for testing?”

Hours before the truth about Rabbi Kanievsky’s remarks surfaced, Charedi newspapers in Israel condemned Gamzu and called for his ouster, as reported by the Times of Israel (, prompting more furor on Twitter.  A tweet by Tekoa resident Laura Ben-David read “Haredi press calls for virus czar’s resignation over rebuke of top rabbi. Well, perhaps someone should call for Kanievsky’s ouster…What kind of rabbi calls on the public to flout the law, endangering themselves & everyone else?”

Adding fuel to the fire, Dr. Peter Kalva tweeted “The stupidity of this Rabbi – and forgive me, there is no other word for it – this stupidity of Rabbi Kanievsky borders on the criminal.”  Torah Musings editor and publisher Gil Student took a different view noting, “Whenever Rav Chaim Kanievsky is quoted, ask to see the video. Otherwise assume it is a misquote and/or out of context, or just a baldfaced lie.”

In addition to clarifying the story, Mishpacha took news outlets to task, categorizing taking a statement out of context as “the height of journalistic irresponsibility.”  But the idea that a story disrespecting a Torah giant could appear on Jewish news outlets cut far deeper for Mishpacha which noted, “when even our frum outlets follow the same script and publish the same misleading stories, it leaves us wondering how they can possibly claim to serve as a forum for those whose every action is shaped by Torah and the talmidei chachamim who are its living embodiment.”