Though many families around the world are struggling with their own needs, few truly meet the halachic status of “pikuach nefesh” (a matter of life and death).
One such case was detailed in a letter released by four of the most prominent haredi rabbis in Israel today: Rav Gershon Edelstein, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Baruch Dov Povarsky, and Rav Dov Landau.
The case is that of Adina Levine*, Bnei Brak mother of six. Adina’s husband reportedly left his family, and his faith, behind nearly three years ago. In the time that has passed since, he has sent no financial support whatsoever. The mother and childrens’ situation has become so dire, Rav Povarsky’s letter to the public describes their home as “empty.”
The young mother works, but is unable to keep six children afloat with her current wages. “They look through the empty fridge hoping for something to eat … they have ripped, stained clothes that I can’t afford to replace,” she writes, describing the extent of their desperation.
Levine’s hope is that, together with the public support of the rabbis, she will be able to raise enough money to provide her children with their basic needs. Rav Kanievsky has categorized their danger as “true pikuach nefesh.” Indeed, after the trauma that the children have endured, it is both their physical and spiritual lives which hang in the balance.
Those who are able to donate receive the rabbis’ assurance that this is a “true fulfillment of the mitzvah of tzedaka.”
*Name changed to preserve privacy.