JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Sephardi Chief Rabbi Rav Yitzchak Yosef just issued a significant psak (ruling) regarding the coming Purim celebrations in the wake of COVID-19, according to BeChazit. Rav Yosef met with Coronavirus manager Nachman Ash to work out protocols and issues for the upcoming Parshas Zachor and to ensure some consideration would be taken for the religious when setting the regulations for the holiday.
The agreement they arrived at led Rav Yosef to issue the following halachic guidelines in relation to Parshat Zachor.
1. The first reading of Zachor in shul should be done with a bracha, before and after, as normal. The Torahs should be taken out after davening for additional readings, but brachas should not be said. They can also do readings later in the afternoon. Multiple readings should be arranged to avoid large gatherings of people.
2. Children under the age of 16, who are not vaccinated or recovering from Corona, should have a minyan arranged just for them for reading Zachor, so they will not put adults in a situation of risk or danger.
3. For Parshat Para – the minyan should be divided into multiple minyanim to avoid congregation of large crowds.
4. Women should not be machmir this year to hear Zachor, so as to avoid congregating. This year they can rely on the opinions in halacha that exempt women from hearing Zachor. Women who normally go to hear Zachor do not need hataras nedarim this year.
5. Children below the age of 13 are exempt this year from hearing Zachor. They should read the portion of Zachor at home from a chumash, for chinuch purposes.
6. Megilla on Purim must be heard from a proper scroll, and not via radio, zoom, or other similar methods. Additional minyanim should be arranged to accommodate everyone without congregation of crowds. People arranging readings for women should do so according to the guidelines.
7. The Purim seuda, on Friday in most places and on Sunday in Jerusalem, should only be held with the nuclear family and as small as possible. Extended family should be informed that because of the situation around the world the halacha is to avoid groups of people.
8. For mishloach manos, people should make do with the minimum of halachic requirements of two portions to two people, and should not send out a lot to a lot of people as might be done in normal years.
9. Matanos La’evyonim – two gifts to two poor people, and this year people should try to give more and should try to transfer via bank transfers rather than giving directly.
10. Yeshiva bochurim who normally go fundraising for the yeshiva “tatim” should not go this year but should make do with sending out requests by mail and telephone and request bank transfers.
11. All Purim parties should be cancelled in all yeshivas and all institutions. Purim celebrations should be held only with immediate family at home.
12. People should get vaccinated as soon as possible and not listen to those who confuse the public taking responsibility for issues of pikuach nefesh against daas torah and against halacha.