Rishon Lezion Issues Warning Against Large Gatherings at Kosel

Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef speaks during Shas Party’s election rally at the Yazdim synagogue in Jerusalem on February 29, 2020. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90 

Rishon Lezion Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef has called on the public to avoid large groups at the Kosel, in light of the Health Ministry ban on gatherings of over 100 people in the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, the Ministry revised its order of the night before, which applied to closed areas, and said that the 100-person limit would cover open areas as well.

“I want to clarify there is no Halachic instruction that supersedes Health Ministry orders,” Rabbi Yosef wrote on Thursday. “The Halachic directive on this issue is to fully obey all Health Ministry orders without exception and every order issued by them is a Halachic order for all intents and purposes.”

The Ministry said the limit on public gatherings will take effect on Thursday night. It applies to minyanim, chasunahs and other mitzvah gatherings as well.

It was not immediately known what the impact will be on Muslim prayers Friday at Har Habyis.

Earlier in the day, health officials reported that the number of confirmed cases of the virus in Israel reached 109.

Five of the patients are in moderate condition and two are in serious condition.

Among those who have tested positive for the virus is a 1.5-year-old baby, according to the ministry.