by Rav Ya’akov Klass, RAA/Igud Presidium Chairman
Question: We are obviously in a very unique situation in this present Covid19 pandemic, which has caused a halt to almost all public gatherings; hence much of Jewish congregational ritual has come to a halt. Is there a way to deal with all that was missed?
Answer: Truly, the Corona virus, which has been officially designated by the U.N. as a world pandemic, a serious threat to life and limb. Due to this our President on the federal level, government officials on both state and local levels as well as most other world authorities, have all put in place bans of all sorts and ranges on public gatherings. This has in effect curtailed all public congregational activities. By way of assent the leading Halachic authorities have ruled that there be no minyanim due to the severity of the situation.
Besides our lives being upended, as relates to Jewish ritual everything has been affected if not seemingly nullified. Weddings that had been scheduled, were for the most part not cancelled, but only that couples are now marrying with Spartan guest lists of perhaps ten to fifteen men participating – all spaced apart, due to the high degree of contagion. A similar story describes a current Brit, Bar Mitzvah and Pidyon Haben in this present climate.
Yet all of these are life events that can occur, albeit in much abbreviated form. However, the thrice-daily minyan of Tefillah B’tzibbur – congregational prayer has all been missed. The advantage that Tefillah B’Tzibbur possesses cannot be recompensed. However this being due to matters that are beyond our control, we must rely on the rule anus Rachmona patrei – where the ability to perform any mitzvah is prevented due to matters beyond our control Heaven absolves us from their performance. But what if we can make good on any of these missed opportunities to serve Hashem, would we and could we?
Let us look at some of the matters that have been rendered beyond our control.