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Hilchot Corona



Instruction of the Ministry of Health
Q: Is one obligated to listen to the instructions of the Ministry of Health regarding Corona?
A: Rabbis are not physicians.  Therefore, regarding medical matters, please turn to physicians. As the Torah states, “He must provide for his complete cure” (Shemot 21:19), regarding which our Sages commented, “Here we derive the permission that physicians have to cure people.”  The Ba’al Ha-Tanya wrote that “only the Prophets had additional knowledge regarding various matters such as [medicine and economics]… but now there are no more prophets, and even great Torah scholars like the scholars of the Mishnah and Talmud do not understand medical or economic matters, or the like” (Igeret Ha-Kodesh 22). 
Just as in a disagreement between rabbis we follow the majority, so, too, in a disagreement between physicians. For example, if there are physicians who say a patient should violate the Sabbath or should eat on Yom Kippur, and others say he should not, the Shulchan Aruch rules that we must follow the majority.  And we follow the mainstream view of the medical field.  See Ramban, Torat Ha-Dam, Sha'ar Ha-Sakanah.  The Minstry of Health is following the instructions of the majority of doctors and the mainstream view of the medical field, so one is therefore obligated to listen to their instructions.

Bikur Cholim on the Telephone
Q: Does one fulfill the Mitzvah of Bikur Cholim on the phone?
A: It depends on the situation and what is best for the sick person.  In the case of Corona, one does fulfill the Mitzvah, since it is forbidden to be with him physically (Shut Tzitz Eliezer 8:5.  Shut Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 1:223).

Minyan
Q: If a person is in quarantine for Corona, what does he do about Davening in a Minyan?
A: He does not attend.  He must follow the doctors' instructions.  He is Anus (exempt because of a situation beyond his control).
Q: But I heard that if someone wants to be spared from getting Corona, he should be particular to attend Minyan, and Davening in a Minyan is like being in a safe room.
A: One must obey the instructions of the Ministry of Health.  One who is in quarantine is forbidden to attend Minyan.  One who is not in quarantine must attend Minyan as usual.  We have not heard that there is such a Segulah.

Kissing Mezuzot
Q: Should one refrain from kissing Mezuzot on account of Corona?
A: There is no halachah that we must kiss the mezuzah.  It is an expression of our love of the mitzvah. Kissing the mezuzah is not mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch. What is mentioned is placing your hand on it when leaving and entering (285:2 in the Rama). It is possible that there is no concern of transferring the illness by simply touching it but one should not put his hand to his mouth afterwards. The essence is not kissing or touching the mezuzah, the essence is fulfilling what is written within it as the Rambam says at the end of Hilchot Mezuzah (6:13) that one should distance himself from the vanities of time and cling to the Master of the Universe.  One should therefore refrain from touching or kissing Mezuzot.  This is also the ruling of the Chief Rabbi, Ha-Rav David Lau Shlit"a.
Q: Does the same apply to kissing Siddurim at the Kotel and in Shul?
A: Yes.

Parashat Zachor
Q: What about hearing Parashat Zachor which is a Torah Mitzvah?
A: He is exempt because he is Anus (because of a situation beyond his control).  It is a dispute if it is a Torah Mitzvah or a Rabbinic Mitzvah.  He should read it at home from a Chumash.  He should also have intention to fulfill the Mitzvah during the reading of Parashat Ki Teitze and the Torah reader should also have this intention as well.

Megillah Reading by Telephone or Video
Q: Can a person in quarantine fulfill the Mitzvah of hearing Megillah over the telephone or by video?
A: Ha-Rav Herschel Schachter Shlit"a, a Gadol in America, was asked this question and said that in Shut Igrot Moshe (Orach Chaim 4:91), Ha-Rav Moshe Feinstein rules that Lechatchila, one cannot fulfill hearing the Megillah over the telephone or through a microphone.  However, in a pressing situation, one can fulfill this Mitzvah over the phone or through a microphone since it is a Rabbinic Mitzvah (This is also the opinion of Shut Tzitz Eliezer 8:11).  In Shut Minchat Shlomo (1:9), Ha-Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach disagrees (This also the opinion of Shut Yechaveh Daat 3:54 and Shut Minchat Yitzchak 3:48.  And the Chazon Ish was in doubt about this issue – Shut Minchat Shlomo ibid. in the notes).  In our case, since it is impossible to hear the Megillah in person due to Pikuach Nefesh (a life-threatening situation) caused by Corona Virus, it is permissible to hear the Megillah via a live phone call or video (The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Ha-Rav David Lau, ruled however that one does not fulfill the Mitzvah in this manner).
Q: Does one recite Amen on the blessings?
A: Yes.  Just as one would in the Shul in Alexandria. (Sukkah 52a, Shut Minchat Shlomo 1:9, Shut Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 4:91).  The blessing of "Ha-Rav Et Riveinu" is only recited if a Minyan is present where the Megillah is actually being read.  One can also read from a Kosher Megillah on his own.  He is not obligated to recite the Troup, but must read it correctly and be careful to stop at the end of the verses.

One in Quarantine Attending Megillah Reading
Q: If someone is required to be in quarantine and attends a Megillah reading does he fulfill the Mitzvah?
A: No.  In Shut Maharam Shick (#260) it says that if a doctor warns a person not to eat Matzah, Marror and drink the Four Cups of wine because it is dangerous for him, it is certainly forbidden for him to be strict and eat them anyway.  This is based on the Eliya Rabba (618:2) who writes that a doctor says if a person is forbidden to fast on Yom Kippur and does so anyway, we force him to eat.  And in Shut Mahari Asad (#160) it says that if a person does not obey the doctor and fulfills the Mitzvah, it is a Mitzvah performed through a transgression (brought in Sha'aryim Metzuyanim Be-Halachah 119:18).  And the Tosafot in Baba Kama (23a) already wrote that more than a person should be careful not be injured, he should take care not to injure others.

"Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah"
Q: How could someone get sick with Corona while hearing the Megillah when the Gemara states, "Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah"? 
A: See the Gemara in Pesachim 8b.  "Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah" is said in regard to an infrequent danger.  The example given there is one who is checking for Chametz and perhaps should check under rocks.  But he should not check because there might be snakes or scorpions under the rocks.  The Gemara asks – how so?  Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah!  Answer: This is a frequent occurrence (snakes and scorpions under rocks) and there is therefore a chance that he might be harmed.  Another example: A person has a shared wall with a non-Jewish neighbor.  Perhaps he should stick his fingers into the cracks in the wall to search for Chametz.  But, he should not check, because the neighbor may accuse him of witchcraft and cause him terrible problems.   The Gemara asks – how so?  Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah.  Answer: This is an evil neighbor and it is considered a frequent occurrence.  Thus, we do not apply this principle when there is a frequent occurrence.  The Gemara states that the proof for this idea is found in the Book of Shmuel (1 Chap. 16) when Hashem tells the Prophet Shmuel to anoint David as king.  "And Shmuel said: How can I go?  If Shaul hears he will kill me?"  (verse 2).  Hashem said: Tell him that you are going to offer a sacrifice in order that he will not be suspicious.  The Gemara asks: But he was going to perform a Mitzvah directly commanded to him by Hashem and "Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a Mitzvah" (see Rashi).  Answer: When there is a frequent danger, even those performing a Mitzvah can be harmed.  This is discussed at length in the book "Mesillat Yesharim" at the end of chapter 9.  It is obvious that if one comes in contact with someone who has an infectious illness, it is considered a frequent occurrence and even someone performing a Mitzvah can be harmed. 

What is Hashem Telling us
Q: What is Hashem trying to teach us with the Corona Virus in the world?
A: Humility.  Man is arrogant regarding the incredible technological advances which help him control the world and thinks he is a god.  And Hashem sends a tiny microscopic creature and Man – with all of his wisdom – cannot control it.
Q: Many Rabbis says that Corona is the Mashiach.  Is it true?
A: It has nothing to do with it.

And may the following be fulfilled through us: "Heal us, Hashem and we will be healed, save us and we will be save" (from the "Shemoneh Esrei").