Misquoting Rabbi Kanievsky caused Shabbat desecration

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky never actually permitted traveling on the Sabbath to escape Hurricane Irma.

Tzvi Lev,

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky
Yaakov Naumi/Flash 90

Last week, reports surfaced that prominent haredi rabbi Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky ruled that traveling on the Sabbath was permitted according to Jewish law for residents seeking to flee Hurricane Irma.

The report was based on a video in which the rabbi says that the storm is dangerous and that Jews living in its path should leave.

"The storm is coming to Miami, and it is very dangerous. There are those from our community wanting to know if they should stay or leave Should Jews living there leave?" a follower asked. Rabbi Kanievsky answered that "it is dangerous. Leave!"

However, subsequent reports misquoted Rabbi Kanievsky as ruling that Jews living there should leave on the Sabbath itself, which he never actually said.

The haredi Behadrei Haredim newspaper, who first published the video, clarified on Monday that "Rabbi Kanievsky was told of a great danger approaching Miami, and he told those who asked him to leave Miami for a safe place because of the danger. He never discussed specifically traveling on the Sabbath itself in order to escape the storm."

Behadrei Haredim blasted the newspapers that published Rabbi Kanievsky's ostensible ruling, saying that "they have distorted Jewish religious practice and it is unclear how many Jews they [caused to desecrate Shabbat] in the wake of the erroneous publication. This is despite the fact that there is an accurate video document that shows and broadcasts exactly what was said."