A prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbi has issued a ruling forbidding public prayer and called on followers to abide by the government’s regulations against gatherings. The decree followed large-scale violations of the restrictions by the country’s Haredi population, and high infection rates in ultra-Orthodox communities.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky of the Lithuanian sect, said it is a matter of saving lives, known in Hebrew as pikuah nefesh, which in Jewish law overrides almost all other religious requirements.

KAN's Naomi Segal asked Prof. Benjamin Brown, an expert on ultra-Orthodox Judaism at  the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Democracy Institute, if the rabbi's ruling is a significant move.