Halacha: Shabbos Under Coronavirus

With the many halachic questions arising due to coronavirus and quarantine, Anash.org presents practical Halacha for Shabbos.

With the many halachic questions arising due to coronavirus and quarantine, Anash.org presents practical Halacha for Shabbos.

By Rav Gedalia Oberlanderrov of Heichel Menachem in Monsey.

Coronavirus Guidance & Directions

May Hashem bless you and protect all of Klal Yisrael.

Many new queries have arisen and due to the severity of the virus many restrictions should be adhered to, as per Pikuach Nefesh.

It is important to reiterate that everyone is obligated to carefully follow the medical advice and recommendations of the doctors and the Department of Health, as clearly stated in letters written by R’ Akiva Eiger during a Cholera Epidemic in 1831 (see Iggeres Sofrim, letter 31).

In communities where shuls have been officially closed, one should not try to circumvent the rules and go to shul. There is a renowned letter from the Shem MeShmuel of Sochochav written to a sick person who was dejected because he was ordered by his doctor to eat on Yom Kippur. The Shem MeShmuel explained to the sick person that the same Hakadosh Baruch Hu, Who commanded us to fast on Yom Kippur also commanded us to eat on Yom Kippur when medically warranted due to Pikuach Nefesh. Therefore, said the Shem MeShmuel, “You should eat with Simchah, knowing that you are fulfilling Hashem’s mitzvah.” Likewise, in our situation today, one should know that by forgoing a minyan and kriyas haTorah, he is thereby fulfilling a Mitzva D’Oiraisa, which is cause for joy and not sadness chas v’Shalom.

  1. Tefilla: As per the authorities, people should refrain from going to shul and should remain home even on Shabbos. Men should preferably daven at the same time that the congregation davens in shul, regularly (Orach Chaim 90:9).
  2. If one davens at home Friday night, one should add ולומר ברכו את ה’ after כגונא and the passage of ויכולו השמים and מגן אבות until מעשה בראשית after Shemoneh Esrei, but not the bracha before and after מעין שבע that follows ויכולו.
  3. A person Davening in private without a minyan does not recite the second יקום פורקן passage and the mi shebeirach that follows.
  4. One may say Birchas HaChodesh (bentch Rosh Chodesh) without a minyan.
  5. For hygienic reasons, one should not spit during the tefilla of עלינו לשבח (when saying the verse להבל ולריק), as one might normally do.
  6. If a congregation did not perform kriyas haTorah one Shabbos, they should continue on Monday and Thursday with the regular weekday kriah, and they should make up the missed parsha on the following Shabbos, by beginning kriyas haTorah from the previous (missed) parsha and continuing with the new parsha from that week (see Rama, Orach Chaim 135:2 with Mishnah Berurah ibid. §8; see also following paragraph).
    If only a minority of the congregation missed kriyas haTorah one Shabbos, there is no need to make up the missed parshah the following week (Shaarei Ephraim 7:10).
    When reading a make up parsha from the previous week, the entire previous parsha plus (at least) 3 pesukim from the new parsha are read during the first Aliyah (Kohen), because each person called to the Torah that week must read from the parsha of the present week (Sefer HaShomer Emes 15:1; Pesach HaDvir §4; Kaf HaChaim §5).
    There is a disagreement among the Poskim as to whether it is proper to read parshiyos from two different Chamushim on the same Shabbos. Thus, some say that if Parshas Pekudei (or Vaykeil and Pekudei) was missed, we cannot read Pekudei and Vayikra the following week since we do not read from two different Chamushim on the same Shabbos, while others say that even in such a case, the missed parsha (Pekudei) can be read the following week together with the new parsha (Vayikra). There is no clear-cut decision in the poskim as to which custom should be followed in this case (Mishnah Berurah 135:7).
    Even if we say that we may read the missed parsha from the previous Chumash (such as, Pekudei and Vayikra), there is a disagreement among the poskim if it is possible to make up a missed double parsha such as Vayakeil and Pekudei. Some rule that a congregation cannot make up more than one missed parsha, and thus if Vaykeil and Pekudei were missed, the congregation reads only Vayikra the following week, and they do not make up the missed double parsha (Magen Avraham ibid. in the name of Maharam Mintz; Olas Shabbos 282:4). Others, however, disagree and maintain that the congregation should read three parshiyos the following because they hold that it is possible to make up more than one missed parsha (Elya Rabba ibid. §2; see also Mishnah Berurah ibid. §7). According to this latter view, it is also possible to make up several missed parshiyos from several weeks (Elya Rabba ibid.; Aruch HaShulchan ibid. §6). Teshuvos Maharam Schick, Orach Chaim §335 writes: “I heard from my Rebbi (the Chasam Sofer) that Hagaon HaChasid R’ Nosson Adler zt”l conducted himself halachah l’maasah according to this view and he once read many missed parshiyos on one Shabbos.
  7. Kissing: One should refrain from directly kissing a Sefer Torah, mezuzah, or sforim. Rather, one should merely kiss them from afar. One should also not kiss the Sefer Torah when called to the Torah for an Aliyah.
  8. Mikveh for Men: Men should entirely refrain from using the mikveh now. A man can fulfill the mikveh obligation through the pouring of nine kabbim of water over himself (Teshuvos Shevet HaLevi 1:24 and
    Minchas Yitzchak 4:21). Nine kabbim water is approximately 11 ½ liters, and others say it is 20 liters of water. This can be accomplished by taking a shower for approximately 3 minutes. Nine kabbim of water are a valid substitute for mikveh only when the water is poured over oneself, as in a shower, but not when he immerses himself, such as in a bath. However, if one sits in a bath with half his body above the water line and nine kabbim of water is then poured over his head, it is valid (Mishnah Berurah 88:4).
    When the nine kabbim water are poured over someone, the person should stand straight with his two hands (spread apart a bit) nears his heart, so that the water lands on his hands too (Mishnah Berurah 88:4, citing Mateh Ephraim).
    When taking a shower for this purpose, one should first stand under the shower spout and then open the water, so that the water immediately goes over him as he opens the faucet.
    Some say that pouring 9 kabbim water is beneficial even for one who [did not experience tumah, but] wants to immerse himself in a mikveh for the sake of תוספת טהרה, additional purity (see Tashbatz §122,, Sefer Maavar Yabok, Imrei Noam ch. 18).
    Alternatively, if one cannot immerse in a mikveh, he may instead learn some Mishnayos from Seder Taharos. It is particularly beneficial for one to learn Mesechtas Mikvaos, as the Rebbe zt”l writes in Iggeres Kodesh (9:153).
  9. Mikveh for Women: Women may go to the mikveh, unless she is quarantined when she may not go. It is advisable to shower after the mikveh. However, they should take a shower only after arriving back home, and not in the mikveh building (see Rama, Yoreh Deah 201:75, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 162:9 and Taharas Yisrael §161). [This is the opinion of Shevet HaLevi.]
    If there is a woman who refuses to use the mikveh (out of fear of the virus), we may permit her to immerse herself in the sea (at the beach). However, another woman must accompany her there to ensure that her entire body with all her hair is properly immersed in the water. It is worthwhile for her to go into the water while wearing Crocs (which should be removed before she immerses) to avoid any chatzitzah adhering to her feet.
  10. Bris Milah: The holy practice of metzitzah b’peh should be continued. The mohel should rinse his mouth with Listerine, as this destroys the virus. The Herpes virus is more dangerous to infants than the Corona virus, andBoruch Hashem no child has ever been infected with Herpes due to metzizah b’peh. Therefore, there is no reason for a mohel to discontinue this practice at this time, provided of course that he is not ill and takes the necessary precautions. If the child’s parents (are not religious and) refuse to allow metzitzah b’peh, the mohel should perform metzitzah with a tube instead, and he should not make an issue about metzitzah b’peh at this time.
  11. Pitom ha’Ketores: During this difficult crises, one should try to say the passage of pitom ha’ketores with a minyan, every morning and afternoon (at shacharis and minchah time). Moreover, the Alter Rebbe writes one should recite the ketores passage שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום, reading the pesukim twice and the Targum once (see the Tzemach Tzedek’s Ohr Torah p. 240; see also Rav Y. Mundstein’s article in Kovetz Ohr Yisrael, Gilyon 18, p. 177).
  12. Brochos: One should make a great effort to say 100 brochos daily with devotion (see Bamidbar Rabbah 18:21).
  13. Charity: One should increase the giving of charity because צדקה תציל ממות, charity spares from death, and provides one with Olam Habah. One should also increase saying of Tehillim and his trust in Hashem.
  14. Visiting: Many poskim rule that one may not visit a person infected with the virus so as not to endanger himself, but should instead fulfill the mitzvah by calling on the phone. A doctor, however, is obligated to treat such patients (see Kovetz MeBais HaLevi, Gilyon ב”נשת סינ ‘א pgs. 147-148).
  15. Weddings: Weddings should be held as scheduled, and should not be postponed on account of a small crowd
  16. Hygiene: It is extremely important to wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with water and soap.
    It is permitted to wash hands with liquid soap on Shabbos. If the soap is heavy, it should be diluted with some water before Shabbos.
    It is permissible to wear a mask outdoors on Shabbos, and is not considered carrying.
  17. Handling Money: After handling money, it is extremely important to wash your hands before eating, touching
    food, or touching your face. One should certainly not touch money during mealtime.
  18. Communal Eating and Drinking: One must refrain from eating or drinking from the same dish as his friend, as
    this is a matter of pikuach nefesh (see Orach Chaim, 170:16 and Taz ibid. §8).
  19. Shiva: If a family is sitting shiva ר”ל, the aveilim should not sit close together, in a small room. One can fulfill the mitzvah of nichum aveilim even over the phone, hence this should be the suggested practice.

I conclude with the prayer אבינו מלכינו מנע מגיפה מנחלתך our father, our king, withhold a plague from your inheritance. May we yet merit in this Month of Adar – whose acronym is אני דרופאיך, I am Hashem, your healer– to והסירותי מחלה מקרביך, I will remove sickness from your midst, and we should emerge from darkness to great light with the coming of Moshiach. May we merit to see the building of the Bais Hamikdash and be able to partake of the korbonos and the korbon Pesach speedily in our days, mamash.

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