The pumping of water from Lake Kinneret will be suspended at the end of next week because haredim fear that it could contain hametz, leaven, which is forbidden for consumption of during the upcoming Passover holiday.
Fearing Leaven, Haredim Get State To Ban Lake Kinneret Water During Passover
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The pumping of water from Lake Kinneret (also known as the Sea of Galilee) will be suspended at the end of next week because haredim fear that it could contain hametz, leaven, Ha'aretz reports, which is forbidden for consumption of during the upcoming Passover holiday.
In 1995, then-Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Rabbi Meir Porush was able to get Israel’s water authorities to agree not to supply Jerusalem with water from the Kinneret during Passover. At the time, Porush said he made those arrangements because of the concerns of haredi yeshiva students who followed the opinion of the Hazon Ish, Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz.
“If a crumb fell into the Kinneret, whoever used that water would have failed [to avoid] leavening on Passover,” Porush reportedly said.
The same arrangement started first in the haredi city of Bnei Brak, where the Hazon Ish had lived until his death in 1953.
“Cutting off most of the state from the Kinneret water supply is a continuation of the process of unbridled extremism that has been forced on us by Haredi politicians. Their demands show Judaism in a ridiculous and ignorant light. The extremism manifests itself in areas such as kashrut, conversion, discrimination against women and more,” Rabbi Uri Regev, the head of the religious freedom organization Hiddush said.
Sefardi haredi leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef permits water from the Kinneret to be consumed on Passover.
Many Ashkenazi haredi rabbis used to allow it, as well, but as the haredi movement has become ever more extreme, the number of those rabbis has declined markedly.
The basis for the ban appears to be the fear that visiting Christian pilgrims will cast bread into the water during the holiday, and that bread will somehow find its way into haredi homes.
That fear does not take into account modern water filtration and purification systems long in place that purify and filter the water before it is released into the country's water delivery system.
The Hazon Ish is famous for having ruled that that closing an electrical circuit to create current (or allow it to flow) was boneh, building, and opening a closed circuit was the corresponded to destroying. Both acts are prohibited on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.
Much like his ruling on Lake Kinneret water, the Hazon Ish's opinion has no actual basis in scientific fact, but it is the ruling Orthodox and haredi Jews follow when they abstain from using electricity on Shabbat.