05 May More Teshuvas on Corona
MAKING UP MISSED WEEKS OF KRIAS HATORAH
Once Shuls Reopen Due to the Coronavirus crisis we have missed many weeks of Torah reading in shul. There is no requirement to make up the missed parshiyos under these circumstances, but if a shul decides that they would like to make up the missed Torah readings from the previous weeks, there is value in doing so. There are two possible approaches: If the congregation wishes, they may read all of the missed parshiyos on the Shabbos they return to shul. After finishing the seven aliyos of that week’s laining, a second Torah should be used to read all of the missed laining in one session. If this option is too burdensome for one Shabbos, the congregation can divide the missed parshiyos into multiple weeks. Each week after the return to shul, two Torahs can be taken out. The first Torah will be used for the seven aliyos of that week’s parshah and the second Torah will be used to read the entirety of a missed parshah in one single reading. When the “make up” parshah has been completed the Haftarah should be read from the “make up” parshah because the custom is to read the Haftarah based on the last Torah that was read from. In the above cases, after the reading from the first Torah is complete the second Torah should be placed on the Shulchan and the Kaddish should be recited. Then the maftir aliyah should then be called up to read the “make up” parshah from the second Torah. Additionally, if a bar mitzvah boy was unfortunately unable to read the parsha he prepared in advance, the situation can be rectified by allowing him to read the missed parshah and Haftarah on a later Shabbos. When the shul reopens, the congregation should take out two Sifrei Torah, and use the first Sefer Torah for the regular weekly parshah, and the second Sefer Torah for the missed parshah prepared by the bar mitzvah boy. Since the general practice is that the Haftarah follows that which was read in the last Sefer Torah, he will now be able to read the Haftarah that he prepared originally. This procedure is not obligatory and therefore may only be performed with the prior permission of the congregation.
SAYING BIRCHAS HA’GOMEL WITH A MINYAN ASSEMBLED OVER ZOOM
Birchas Ha’gomel is meant to be recited in the presence of a minyan. It is best to recite this bracha within three days of recovering from a potentially life threatening situation, and it is improper to delay beyond thirty days. If it becomes clear that due to the danger it will be impossible to be in the presence of a minyan within thirty days, then one should recite the bracha over Zoom or phone conference with ten men watching or listening. This is possible because the requirement for a minyan is not the same as for tefilah b’tzibur or krias haTorah, which are devarim shebikedushah and require a minyan gathered in one place. In the case of Birchas Ha’gomel, the purpose of the minyan is to publicize the miracle, and this can be accomplished even if the ten individuals are listening without being present in one room.
BURIAL ON SHABBOS AND YOM TOV
Due to the highly contagious nature of coronavirus, there are certain governments that have mandated either immediate burial or cremation (this is not the case currently in the United States). Under those circumstances, every effort should be made to avoid cremation. Therefore if a Jew would pass away on Shabbos, the burial should be done immediately (on Shabbos) by nonJews. In addition, the storage facilities of many funeral homes in New York (and elsewhere) are currently filled to capacity and have raised concerns regarding the upcoming Yom Tov. Under these tragic circumstances, we must allow that the burial be performed on Yom Tov. Relatives who wish to participate would not be permitted to walk beyond the techum, nor would they be allowed to accompany the hearse in a car. On Yom Tov Sheini, it is theoretically possible for Jews to be involved in the actual burial, and in that case they would be permitted to join in the car and travel beyond the techum. This would only be relevant for those who would be physically involved in the burial (digging the grave, lowering the castket into the ground and filling in the grave with dirt). No one else including close family members would be allowed to travel to the cemetery. Ordinarily, one who travels to a cemetery on Yom Tov Sheini for a burial, would be required to stay in a local Jewish home for the remainder of Yom Tov, but due to the current necessity of social distancing, this is impossible. Therefore, they may return to their homes on Yom Tov Sheini. However, due to the current danger, it is strongly recommended that all burials be done by professionals with the use of machines. Accordingly, the family members would unfortunately not be present at the burial on Yom Tov.