Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau on Monday issued special instructions ahead of Tishah B’Av, which will begin on Wednesday evening.
“Unfortunately,” Rav Lau writes, “the epidemic is spreading and we need much Heavenly mercy. The weather on Tishah B’Av is to be warmer than usual. Therefore, as it is our duty to keep the guidelines of the Health Ministry in full, I ask to follow these instructions:
• A verified coronavirus patient is not allowed to fast, even if he is feeling well.
• Anyone with a fever above 38°C [100°F] is not allowed to fast.
• Those who have the symptoms that characterize coronavirus such as weakness, coughing, should not fast.
• Those who are in the recovery stages from coronavirus should not fast.
• Those who have fully recovered, but still feel weakness, should not fast.
• Those who are in isolation and have no symptoms should fast. If they feel any weakness they should drink shiurim (every 9 minutes, up to 37 cc), if their weakness increases they can eat.
• Special care must be taken to maintain hygiene ,and therefore disinfecting hands and cleaning hands with soap and other places that need maintaining hygiene is allowed.
• Those who are forbidden to fast should not start fasting at all, and there is no need to eat less than a shiur.
• Even those who are allowed to eat on Tishah B’Av should eat only what is necessary and only one cooked dish is allowed at each meal.
• It goes without saying that even those who are not fasting must observe the rest of the laws of Tishah B’Av.
• This year, due to the need to spend as little time in public and due to the weather conditions, the recitation of the Kinnos in public should be shortened. Kinnos can also be said without a minyan and there is no need to say them all in shul. Therefore, only the Kinnos “Shovas Suro Meni,” “Zion Halo Tishali” and “Eli Zion” should be recited in public. The rest of the Kinnos can be said at home.
Last week, Rabbi Lau wrote a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein to ease restrictions on shuls by allowing more people in larger shuls.
“There should be a differentiation between a shul that can hold hundreds and sometimes thousands of mispalellim, and a smaller shul that can barely host 20 people,” Rabbi Lau wrote.
“The arbitrary setting of a maximum number of mispallelim [at 10] isn’t right for every place,” he noted. “We must consider the size and the distance that can be kept from one another.”