Harav Lau: Don’t Kiss Mezuzahs During Coronavirus Crisis

Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

At an emergency meeting Wednesday, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Harav David Lau conferred with Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman and Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Simantov to discuss the implications of coronavirus on the religious public. Among the decisions: Mezuzahs should not be kissed or even touched while the coronavirus crisis was ongoing, by anyone, he said.

“At this time when we are unfortunately witness to the spread of a serious disease, there is no question that mezuzahs should not be kissed, or even touched,” Harav Lau’s office said in a statement. “It is halachically sufficient for an individual to think about what is written in the mezuzah when entering or leaving a room or a building.”

Individuals who are supposed to remain in isolation due to possibly being infected with the disease are not to participate in public events, such as azakarot, or use public facilities, such as mikva’os. Such individuals cannot participate in a minyan as well. Harav Lau added. “Azakarot and other events can be postponed until such time that ther is no danger involved. Individuals affected should not daven in a minyan, and those who do are doing a mitzvah through a serious transgression” of endangering the public.

This coming Shabbos features the reading of Parshas Zachor, a d’oraisa obligation for men. Those who are in isolation are likewise not to go to shul to hear the parashah, Harav Lau said. “Such people are in isolation through no choice of their own, and as such are considered an ones, and are exempt from this mitzvah.” Instead, those at home should read the parashah from a Chumash. As it is not clear whether or not coronavirus can be spread via objects, an individual in isolation should not borrow a megillah from a friend, the statement said.

The same holds true for the hearing of the megillah on Purim; those who have or can obtain a kosher megillah can fulfill the mitzvah on their own, and if they cannot get a megillah or cannot read one on their own, they can fulfill their obligation by reading it from a chumash. Mishloach manos and matanos l’evyonim can be fulfilled via an agent (shaliach), the statement said.