February 27, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
February 27, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

We Still Need to Be Careful This Purim

Given the severity of the spread of COVID-19, it is necessary for people to keep vigilant as Purim approaches. R. Jachter (“Rav Ovadia Yosef Rejects Megilla Reading on Zoom,” January 21, 2021) published in your paper his opinion that one cannot fulfill the mitzvah of Megilla via Zoom, thus encouraging Jews to congregate in synagogues. Even with the best masks and social distancing this activity would increase the risk of the spread of the disease in our community, potentially resulting in more sickness and deaths. I sadly recollect that as a probable direct result of gathering for Megilla last year, five people died soon after in one of our main Orthodox synagogue communities in Teaneck.

Fortunately, contrary to R. Jachter, a respected rabbi at Yeshiva University, R. Herschel Schachter, has just circulated the following instructions: ”If one has no option to hear the Megilla with a minyan due to these circumstances, if they have a kosher Megilla in their possession and know how to read it correctly, they may do so on their own. If they do not know the reading but would be able to read it correctly while listening to a recording or livestream of a slow reading from one who does know, that would also be effective. If this is not possible, one may rely on the opinions that the mitzvah can be fulfilled over the telephone or via Zoom” (Paragraph 8 of Piskei Corona #58: Inyanei Purim, 1/30/2021) (https://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/987942/).

That guidance seems to me reasonable, even urgent, in this time of immense exigency. The pandemic has not eased and we ought not let down our guards or increase risks to ourselves or our community.

Rabbi Dr. Tzvee Zahavy
Teaneck

Rabbi Jachter’s Response: Thank you Rabbi Dr. Zahavy for your kind note. To clarify, I am not in any way encouraging people to gather unsafely at this or any other time. There are ways to facilitate very safe Megilla readings (such as reading outside people’s homes, while residents listen inside their homes) that compromise neither Halacha nor health concerns. My congregants and students know very well how scrupulous I have been about COVID safety.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles