Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovezh Explains the High Rate Of Chareidi Victims From COVID-19

Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, head of the Ponevez Yeshiva

BNEI BRAK (VINnews) — In a live video clip transmitted from his home, Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovezh and the president of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah (Council of Torah Sages), spoke to Yeshiva students around the country and gave them words of Chizuk during the present difficult situation:

“Baruch Hashem, some Yeshivos have already started learning, but the main thing is to be very careful and maintain all Ministry of Health precautions. Most yeshiva students are still learning at home over the phone, with chavrusas (study companions) over the phone, and shiurim over the phone. This is a very big merit for them. A lot of people are doing this, they’re learning נט phone and gaining tremendous Chizuk from their studies.”

Rav Gershon also referred to the present epidemic and the high rate of Chareidi victims from the coronavirus:

“There is something we must understand. The chareidi public had a higher death rate than the secular public, both in Israel and abroad.

What does this mean? The Chazon Ish says the following principle: In our times, those that never studied Torah and did not repent, when they transgress they are considered shogeg (mistaken, unintentional). Tinokos shenishbu (like children taken captive, they follow what they have seen from youth) They are not at fault. They never had any education!

But a Chareidi? A Chareidi that transgresses, is not a shogeg! Therefore, the Midas Hadin (G-d’s attribute of justice) is more harsh for chareidim, as we have seen abroad as well.

The impact of the coronavirus on the Jewish world is a study in contrasts.

In Israel, where the total death toll as of Tuesday was 238 and the number of new daily infections below 50, the country has significantly eased its lockdown. School has resumed for some grades, businesses have reopened, and on Thursday beaches and outdoor markets are slated to reopen.

But in many large Jewish communities worldwide, the coronavirus is still wreaking a terrible toll. Among the 8 million Jews living in the  Diaspora — more than Israel’s 6.7 million but less than its overall population of 9.2 million — the death toll is in the thousands and climbing.

It’s impossible to say exactly how many Jews have died of COVID-19 because governments don’t count the deaths of their Jewish citizens separately and, in most places, the Jewish community doesn’t have a full accounting of those who have lost their lives.
What’s clear is that the Jewish rate of death is exponentially higher in the Diaspora compared to Israel and that the virus is devastating the Jewish world. In many places, the infection and death rate among Jews is also far higher than the local non-Jewish population.


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  1. Because our people in the beginning (….) of the pandemic was very careless. But NOW, as we finely understand the seriosity of the situation, and the dangerousity of the illness, we must to hold the safety measures very – very carefully, with patience. Yiddish life is the most precious thing on the world, and in the case of pekiach nefesh, afile doiche es hashabbos. Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over yet, in some countries in the world already talking about a second wave, rachmone litzlon, so we have to be staying carefully . So long it’s doesn’t exist a PROVEN vaccine or medicine, the virus does not going away. We must be really careful, holding the health measures, and asking for hashem’s mercy.

    • This virus is _not_ a random physical manifestation. It’s a response to a particular aveirah. The Gemara Shabbos describes it. All the biochemical research in the universe will not stop it, any more than research in the midbar would have stopped the various makkos and nega’im.

      When everyone – including the non-Jewish world — takes their chelek in the Torah seriously, this nonsense will subside.

      • The mitzva we were lax in was pikuach nefesh. Too many of us did not listen to our manhiggim and insisted on beating halachah and Hashem (kivyochol) by going to “minyan” , mikva and a whole host of ossurim. We were poshaia. Hkb”h teaches us this by middah kineged middah. He says, you don’t treasure the mitzvah of pikuach nefesh. You don’t reasure the psak dinim of our manhiggim, I will therefore not protect you from the virus and he punished us severely.

        Hashem is giving us a second chance now in EY and soon in the USA too. It seems that in EY, most of the poshiim are BH chozrim bteshuva and we are seeing the return of minyonim and kollels that are mehudor in the mitzvah of pikuach nefesh. Bez”H, we in the US will see this wave of Teshuva soon when Rabonim lift the halachos of no minyonim, no kollels, no mikvas. May we this very soon.

    • Correct but only when it’s truely health measures. If abiding by social distance rules we have to use the koach hatzibur and tefila of the public to fight this too.

      Furthermore, we need to advocate that health officials do the proper thing and not act out of fear. You mention a scare of a second wave. Unless you are ready to stay locked up till after next winter and bring this disfunctionality to extremely crazy levels that are dangerous, we need to rally and support the sensible people . In simple English schools and camps for kids under ten most reopen immediately while the most vulnerable stay locked up. I fear the worse from unstructured kids. Every summer we suffer Korbanos

      • Yes. “STAY LOCKED up till after next winter” schools don’t need to open at all. Learn on the Net. Social Distancing will stop many shigas like the Choson Bocher planning 5 years a wedding etc. Let the Rabbis teach on the net and let WE THE PARENTS teach them menchlachkeit. It will stop the “Off the Derech” and “Freezer/Shiduch” crisis in less than a year.

        • You obviously have no littel children. Your comment is so wierd. Little kids acnnot learn via the net. It doesn’t work.

          Furthermore, when it comes to yiddishkiet and hebrew studies you need interaction and a rebbe present . This is our mesora.

          I laugh at your stupidity. Because I teach my little child via a paid internet home school website (secular studies). Its a disaster.

          Early education is so crucial to a childs development. How do you have the nerve and audacity to deprive them because you are a paranoid about a .0001% increase in death risk. Yes do the math. As you would say its only a google away. Whats the risk of an under 55 year old dying from covid 19? The overwhelming majorty of over 55 won’t have kids under ten. We need to get those kids back to school.

          I shutter at the thought of unstrucured environment for kids. Every summer we lose a few korbons due to lack of structre and kids dying. We had one already in AZ. Much worse than corona.

          More kids will go OTD from being stuck home, watching goyisha videos and being bored.

          Your ideas are completely wacky. Where do you even come up with ypour stupid nonsense? And are youa frum jews? Youw rite so much reform judiasm ideas

          • Is English not your first language? Your writing is terrible, with misspellings and poor grammar. Perhaps you should spend less time criticizing others and more time improving yourself.

      • Retarded Archy, maybe if you weren’t such a child yourself you could give your kids structure. Alas, you are too worried about Duchaning and “taam”. Whah! Life is so hard! Why can’t we go back to the Yeshiva raising my kids for me so I have all my time to be an ignoramus on the internet! Your poor children. Hopefully, they get their seichel from their mother and don’t grow up to be self centered, bigoted fools like you.

      • Definitely people did not die because they did things like this idiot did and felt a need to brag about his irresponsible anti-science behavior.

        Educated Archy March 15, 2020 12:56 am at 12:56 am
        Nope sorry I went to shul shook hands and acted normal. I did use extra soup. We need not fall for this super hyper paranoid society. There are some good olde fashion drs that laugh at all this and say the world has gone mad.

    • I’m sorry but that really isn’t true. I’m out and about. No one really believed it in the United States The only time people started to believe it was when suddenly the basketball player got sick and they canceled basketball, followed by cancel hockey, baseball etc. That’s when people started to believe it. Before that no one believed it and there was really no reason to believe it either based on the information we were being fed.

  2. Thank you Rabbi. Now we have to figure our what did we do wrong to deserve the punishment. For a start. Closed and Punished. Shuls, Yeshivos,Kolels,Chasenes, (Lehavdil Clubs, bars,Sports arenas,concert,beaches etc) NOT THE HOMES OR SUPERMARKETS. I have made 1000’s of trips to many different supermarkets and not once did I say or hear Loshon Hora. Made 1000’s of trips to supermarkets and not once was I told about this Fancy chasenes we debated in the last week. Its done in the Yeshivos as we learned from the beautiful letters from the Chosen Bocher and from the Fathers perspective who must have picked this up in the shul or Kolel (or mikveh) Bottom Line The longer we stay home not only we will ij”h stay healthier Begasmiyus but we will do much better in Ruchniyus and Hashem will love us. Everything you do in a Shul,Kolel,Chasenes etc could be done at home without the juicy avejros what probably the pro-open crowd is missing. The 2 big Issues affecting us: Of The Derech and Shiduch crisis are all created by SOCIAL PRESSURE at Beth Jacobs, Yeshivos, Kolels etc. none were invented in HOMES or SUPERMARKETS. Hashen gave us the answer: SOCIAL DISTANCING

    • The umos haolam are not being punished because or our OTD and shidduch issues. EVERYBODY is blocked from communal prayer, schools & camps, etc. The entire world is stricken when it’s a mitzvos bnei Noach problem. Now the question is whether the world is ready to do a cheshbon hanefesh, on that level, and willing to make the needed changes.

      Yes, we need the social distancing, face masks, etc. It’s the hishtadlus side. But that’s always been a gashmius effort, and ONLY an effort, while the real action is in the ruchnius theatre. That’s “theatre” as in war. It’s a worldwide yetzer harah war.

      I hope we all win it.

        • to yingele: why do you spam us with your multiple names? Aha, ah, ha, yingele, anonymous.. etc..
          To mention just a few. Your obnoxious spelling gives you away. No it’s not ij”h, and it’s not “gasmius” just like you wrote “Shul” and not “sul”… oh I almost forgot to mention it’s not “bisvil” yisroel it’s bishvil. Nobody thinks your sophisticated because of your imbecilic spelling which outshine your equally obnoxious opinions. Also “avejros” is a dirty word in Spanish. Perhaps you meant “aveiros”?

          • It sure looks like you agree with all the posts since your only objection is the spelling. FYI Vo isNeis or Wisiznaias or anyway you whated to spell thom is a Yiddisch or Jidish or Yidishe place not Harward Evangeliste who cant understand it.

          • What religion is Manny? We yiden jidelech unsere have Yidische nomen like Moshe, Abraham, Avromi Avrumi, Majseh, Majsi, Our religion forbids non jewish names. Fersteist?

    • Yup the charedi behavior is to gather and congregate. This is our mesora . It may have resulted in more deaths but we will not change our mesora whereby the steghnths last in the masses and tzibur. Who knows how many lives were saved bec of it during other eis tzaras.

      Let’s continue to congregate as much as possible while maintaining social distance rules . Without this we cease to exist

      • NOPE. Its not our Messorah to go to shul and smues, drink coffe, kiddis club,mingle and (Ladies showing off the newest untzniusdig dresses and long sheitls. One of the Greatest Godajl a few years ago even mentioned that the Holocaust happened because of the Sheitlach. Todays sheitlach were designed and purchased for Shul Shows, Chassenes etc. (Not for home) Its not OUR Messorah to have Chasenes 5-600 and more people (No matter how many friends 1st 2nd cousins we have) There were NO SHULS at all for 1000s of years of our History and for sure no Fcy Chasenes. Its OUR (yours and mine) SHIGAS not mesorah HUGE difference.

        • Godajl?! What does that mean? Kiddis???? Whaaaaat? At least be consistent with your Obnoxious spelling.. you should have written “seitlech” or better yet…. to truly follow your own formula you should have written “seijtlech”

          Your response to Archy does not make any sense. He never claimed those things are ok. You have an issue with how people show up to Shul and make weddings you can campaign (campaijn)against it, but to mention here follows no logic.

      • Suicide and murder is not our Mesorah . Every Rabbi, Doctor, Hatzolah guy will tell you that to CONGREGATE is suicidal today. Its not our Mesorah to act against publicly posted Rabbonik PSAK (except the Erev Rav)

        • Nope we have 1000’s that say if you congeragte and social distance its NOT sucidal and safe. You need to learn how to read. This is OUR mesora. Congregate while tsaying safe. That may mean no more than 10 . And its suggested to stay 15 feet away not 6 feet away plus wear a mask and only out doors. But congeragte as per 1000’s of rabbonim

          • Like on 3/15/2020 when every respected medical professional was warning about this, Archy’s mesorah was to ignore all the experts and spread the disease. Time for him to go hide in a hole and actually learn something for a change.

            Educated Archy March 15, 2020 12:56 am at 12:56 am
            Nope sorry I went to shul shook hands and acted normal. I did use extra soup. We need not fall for this super hyper paranoid society. There are some good olde fashion drs that laugh at all this and say the world has gone mad.

      • Retarded aarchy, you have blood on your hands! I lost many family members in BP and CH. It is because people like you were saying in March that “it will be gone by Pesach” and “I will hug people in shul but just use more soap” (of course, you spelled soap wrong). Many listened to the stupid ramblings of shotim like you an paid the ultimate price. You can talk about social distancing now but we remember what you were saying in March. You have given up any chalek that you may have earned. So Rodef Archy, you should visit the overflowing morgues to look in the face of your victims and ask mechilla!

        • You are a kofer and apikoros. Hashem decided who should pass away. Not my shaking hands.

          Now once the official govt guideline was to social distant we listen and at that point if we don’t its suicide and blood on our hands. We need not worry about things before the govt says so. At that point its “shomer pissom hashem”. If we did worry about it all society would never function.

          Re duchaning yom tov. Again if it follwoed all CDC guidelines its safe. We need not listen to your silly paranio. The proof is in the pudding. How did our community do from those social distant minyanim? BH almsot no new cases at all. And noone from those minyan got sick. The koach of tefila and ducahning saved lives too

          Now For the hundredth time can you quit spamming like a two year old and gow up. And stop harping over and over again over the same nonsense.

          VIN modertaor, Please enforce the on screen name per person rule. Please enforce the non offensive screen names rule. If Honest, yingele farklempt dishonors that please block the coward

    • David, I don’t believe that anyone will deny that chareidi behavior has a lot to do with how it happened, which button was pressed to cause the pre-designated outcome, etc. Our lives are built around being with the community. The Rosh Yeshiva Shlita was discussing with the larger picture, why was there a virus put into this world that would hurt people who follow a chareidi lifestyle.

      • Maybe it was to show that Daas Torah as so many of you believe (fortunately not every Rabbi and person is consumed with this desire to not take personal responsibility for things in life) is not a real thing. There is simply no one around who can say they learned all they need to about everything just from the Torah. Case in point, an epidemic like COVID-19, where too many lacking a sufficient understanding of science thought it was not going to affect their communities. This is further evidenced that across the board, by religious communities of varying faiths, those that tended to minimize the import of science and non-religious knowledge all are suffering worse from this as they thought they can blow the virus away or their faith is somehow able to overcome their acting negligent.

  3. “But a Chareidi? A Chareidi that transgresses, is not a shogeg!”

    I don’t understand. Is he actually saying that all the big rabbis who died were sinners?
    Or did I understand that wrong?

  4. A major reason that there should be no such thing as any of these yenta sites is because of the people who bash Torah and gedolim. It happens here and it happens at every other “Jewish” site.

    You guys think you know anything better? That’s the problem. You think, or you might think that is a question, but you definitely don’t know. You are basing it on boych svoros because you’re a certified עם הארץ מדאורייתא!

    Don’t argue with דעת תורה, ESPECIALLY when you have neither דעת or תורה!!!

    • I am not arguing with daas torah, as (1) I have no idea what that really means and (2) I am arguing based on the scientific facts. Viruses spread easily when people are in close contact with each other. Charedi communities were not trusting of the science and thought their faith would counter-act science. They found out they were wrong. Now they seek to redefine what happened by suggesting it is all because of midas hadin, gay people, loshon hara, lavish simchas, etc, and not in any part (i.e. it could be that we are punished for those things as well) due to acting negligently and not listening to the doctors and scientists here. I recall when Israel was having their first cases, I was very critical at the pushback the charedi community had to shutting down yeshivas and shuls and tried warning some that they will not escape what happened in other places because they are holier. The anti-science stance was well documented and now the early missteps which anyone with an ability for critical thought would have realized is being ignored as a large part of why this is affecting the charedi communites much worse than the rest of Israel.

      • Of course 100% correct. Go back and look at the headlines in the Jerusalem Post from the early days of this. Here is one from March: “Ultra-Orthodox in Israel ignoring social distancing: ‘We’re not scared'”. They should have been. And people died because of it.

  5. Here is the facts.
    When G-d sends a virus it’s for different reasons. Some we know and some not.
    The reason countries are getting hit is because of gay marriage being legalized. See gemorrah Chullin 92B
    Second reason
    Shuls have talkers. The same happened in TAch Vetat. Hundreds of thousands of Jews killed because of no respect in shuls. Tosfes yom tov
    Third reason
    Yeshivas refuse to take in kids from poor homes or broken homes.
    Fourth reason
    Lavish weddings that cause heart attacks to parents who can’t afford these expenses.
    Fifth reason
    Euthanasia the murder of old people legally now as instituted by democRATS.
    I have 21 other reasons but this will suffice for now.

    • Please add yeshivas only accepting metzuyonim and kicking our kids around. The refusal to accept our children for a number of reasons, without first consulting daas Torah. They only consult their own daas. All of this has led to another pandemic. The pandemic of our kids not wishing to live our lifestyle that is causing unimaginable pain to their parents. Parents who cannot sleep at night and are experiencing their lives as bitter. What is happening is unimaginable. Perhaps, G-d, said enough!

  6. To funny
    Every person is born with a brain.
    And by studying Torah you have a deeper insight. According to your thinking why do people go to rabbonim,rebbes or Rosh yeshivas.
    They have no nevios today.
    But because they are learned they can give more insight into an issue.
    To INA
    You are correct.
    In Judaism there is a concept Midah keneged Midah
    Measure for measure.
    The administrators of schools rejected many good kids because they came from broken homes and now their kids are sitting home on their necks as they sit with no income. This is the same they have done to either families that are poor,orphaned or divorced. Now they get a taste of their medicine.
    Nothing in this world happens for nothing.

  7. I am trying really hard to digest the message of the Rav, as he explains why so many chareidim died from Covid-19:
    “A Chareidi that transgresses, is not a shogeg! Therefore, the Midas Hadin (G-d’s attribute of justice) is more harsh for chareidim”

    So all the chosheva yidden, rabbonim, gedolim, Rebbes z”l including head of Moetzes – they all died because they transgressed?! Is he talking against the dead holy yidden? Is he saying that all those that died, died because they were CH”V wicked sinners? That doesn’t sound like Loshon Tov.

    • Rebbetzin Golden,

      Rav Gershon is not talking against all the holy dead yidden. Chazal say that Tzaddikim are taken as a kaparah for the Yidden of his generation. This means that the death of a Tzaddik is equal to the deaths of many regular yidden. Therefore, Hashem takes the life of a Tzaddik in order to spare many other yidden. Rav Gershon is saying that frum yidden in general are held to be highly accountable for aveiros. And the Tzaddikim who have been taken, have been taken on the general frum community’s account, not necessarily on their own account. If not for the Tzaddikim who have been taken, many more poshete yidden may have been taken.

      Hopefully this makes it easier to digest. Rav Gershon is one of the Gedolei Hador. The words of the Gedolim are fiery coals and always Loshon Tov. Let’s be careful what we say.

    • Yes, I think you are catching on. There are countless children running about who don’t wish to live our lifestyle! This didn’t happen 30 or more years ago when ALL the children were accepted into all of our schools. This is occurring in excellent homes AND to the best of our people because we all have children who are not “metzuyonim”! Of course, children from disadvantaged homes are also excluded. Children who can grow to be the greatest amongst our people, simply denied entry. Wake up before it’s in your backyard.

    • Yes, they were not careful in the d’oraisa of safeguarding their lives and congregated in shuls and other places when they should have followed the holy words of our sages and gone inside. How much simpler can this be?

  8. “A Chareidi that transgresses, is not a shogeg! Therefore, the Midas Hadin (G-d’s attribute of justice) is more harsh for chareidim”

    It’s impossible to argue with blatant ignorance!

  9. Whatever we think we know about this virus we really don’t. We use studies from other pandemics and virus behaviors to figure out what to do.

    Most governors are deciding to do what archy is saying, which is to sacrifice more lives in order to stop sacrificing the economy. I’m if the belief that all lives matter, especially the elderly who have sacrificed for us and our freedoms. I completely understand those that feel the opposite way. Struggling financially with young kids at home ( I see my kids suffering too) is terrible as well.

    To say that staying six feet away for a few hours daily inside a shul won’t spread the virus is simply impossible. Hashem doesn’t need the koach hatfilla from a minyan to hear our cries when we are actively saving lives to do so. It’s one thing to open up the economy and another to open up houses of worship so people can socialize. This is absolutely a punishment from god who understands we are a social people. It’s hard and we should redouble our tefillos at home to end this.

  10. I was happy that the man who I think must have taken over from Shach was correctly referring to tinukey sh’nisbharim as such, not saying they caused the Holocaust as did his dubious predecessor.
    I do feel ambiguous about whether or not The Chozon Ish would apply this shogaig maizeed logic to what happened.
    It seems to me that those religious leaders who didn’t exercise extreme caution when news of a deadly virus with no vaccination was spreading very quickly were more responsible for the spread & the results than were secular communal leaders who did exercise more caution.
    The religious leaders had the same choice as everyone else.
    How does the Rov say that it’s because they’re more religiously observant that God punished them?
    Does God sit around looking to punish people? I thought it says somewhere that He’s busy since creating the universe with making shidduchim.
    Is he saying that observant leaders were maizeed in not exercising caution while secular people were shogaig, even if the later in some cases didn’t exercise caution?
    Is he saying that observant people can never be judged to have done anything b’shogaig just because they’ve learned how to be religious? Or, that someone who isn’t so observant can’t do an aveira because all ostensibly less observant people have to be considered tinukey sh’nishbuim and not held responsible for anything they do that’s seriously wrong?
    Please forgive me or my ignorance, but am I wrong to see this Rov’s comments as childishly simplistic?

  11. There is a famous line from the Netziv in which he said that if he were to have been a shoemaker, he would’ve been shown in shamayim the seforim that he was supposed to have authored. To the many commentators here who try to compete for the most warped and wacky hashkafa, I say this: In shamayim they will say to all your self proclaimed “daas Torah”, “very nice Mister, but where are your shoes?”


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