Troubled times often lead to rash conclusions about the cause of such difficulties, none more so than by some religious leaders.
Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu posted a video to YouTube on Monday in which he noted that people have been asking him why the coronavirus pandemic has been sent to the world by God.
In answering, Eliyahu said that the world was coming closer to “the days of the Messiah,” and went on to imply that the coronavirus outbreak was bringing about greater adherence to God’s word.
Eliyahu, a hardline right-wing religious leader, noted the recent comments of Pope Francis, who has called for stricter observance of the Sabbath by Christians and has spoken approvingly of Jewish observance of Shabbat.
“Maybe the Muslims will tell us to build the Temple,” continued the rabbi, something which is often understood will herald the coming of the messiah.
“The Jewish people lives, we are waking up, opening our eyes, stopping all the nonsense we do, and really drawing closer to Shabbat.”
Another hardline leader of the religious right, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, wrote on Sunday that the coronavirus is a rectification for humankind’s arrogance and haughtiness, and a rebuke to moral relativism.
“In our days, man thinks he is God, that he is the master and can decide what is good and bad, something which is called moral relativism or postmodernism,” wrote Aviner on the Kipa news website.
“If this is the case, that mankind is proud, mankind knows everything, understands everything, let us see you fight the smallest of God’s creations. This creation is called corona, a crown,” he continued.
Coronavirus is so named because of the crown-like arrangement of proteins on the virus when viewed under a microscope.
“We must restore the crown to God.” he concluded.
On Twitter, Aviner said however that there was one good thing the coronavirus outbreak in Israel had caused.
“Almost all the non-Jewish culture has stopped. Academia, the Education Ministry, leisure culture, travel abroad,” the rabbi wrote on the 21st century micro-blogging site.
Earlier this month, a prominent ultra-Orthodox leader, Rabbi Meir Mazuz, proffered a similar and more specific explanation to Aviner’s. He claimed that the LGBTQ community and Gay Pride marches were against nature and had caused the coronavirus pandemic.
And Mazuz is not the only cleric to have made such accusations.
Pastor Steven Andrew of the USA Christian Church designated the month of March as"Repent of LGBT Sin Month,” and said that "Obeying God protects the USA from diseases, such as the coronavirus.”
And at the end of February, a Muslim preacher speaking on official Palestinian Authority TV said that corona is “one of Almighty Allah’s soldiers” and that Allah is punishing the sinners – “those who attack His believers.”
“The true meaning of the epidemics is a trial from Almighty Allah and a punishment. A trial for the believers and a punishment for the sinners,” said the preacher, whose name was not publicized, according to a translation by the Palestinian Media Watch organization.
“If the epidemic harms non-believers from among the abusers and the aggressors, then that is punishment. This virus is one of Almighty Allah’s soldiers, and he is unleashing it on those who attack his believers.”