by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
Recently, Rav Hershel Schachter shlita issued a psak about COVID-19 and the Taanis.
The following translation of his ruling was attched to the Teshuvah:
“As a result of the ongoing danger of Coronavirus, there are many who are still uncomfortable davening indoors, and have been following the medical recommendation to convene in outdoor venues.Although davening with a minyan has great value, it does not take precedence over safety, or over the importance of fasting on Shiva Asar B’Tamuz. As there is a clear concern of dehydration when spending time outdoors in the hot summer months, if one feels that as a result of their davening outdoors they may be required to drink on Shiva Asar B’Tamuz, it would be best to daven at home without a minyan.
In areas where the heat is significant, it would be best not to conduct minyanim at all under these conditions, as they would place people in a position of either endangering their health or of compromising the fast.”It may also be pointed out that at this point, many of the outdoor minyanim have numerous canopies over the tables and some even have fans available. Also, it is probably preferable to time the minyan for Mincha at 8:00 PM rather than Mincha Gedolah to mitigate against the heat.
In a second psak, Rav Schachter writes:
“The period of mourning beginning on Shiva Asar B’Tamuz (The Three Weeks), is patterned off of the classical laws of Avelius when mourning a deceased parent. When mourning the loss of a parent, we have a custom to abstain from listening to joyful music. However, one would be allowed to listen to music if they felt it was needed to help assuage their personal feelings of anxiety or depression. At the current time due to the ongoing pandemic, the entire world is in a state of uncertainty and concern.One who feels compelled to listen to music in order to help alleviate their tension or pressure would be allowed to do so. This would especially apply to Erev Shabbos, when listening to music would create a positive frame of mind in anticipation of Shabbos.”