Chief Rabbis: Pray at home

Chief Rabbinate issues guidelines for Passover, says burning of chametz is banned this year, use of Zoom for seder not allowed.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

The Chief Rabbis
The Chief Rabbis
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and Rabbi David Lau, the Chief Rabbis of Israel, published a detailed halakhic document this afternoon for the Passover holiday in the shadow of the coronavirus.

The Chief Rabbinate noted that the new directives were given after consultation with all the professional bodies in the Health Ministry and the National Security Council prior to writing, and addressed a variety of topics including prayers, selling chametz, kashering utensils, and more.

1. Prayer in public:

According to the Health Ministry's guidelines, Jews should not pray with a minyan. Rather, everyone should pray at home in private.

2. Mikvah:

Men's mikvahs will be closed, while women's mikvah's will be subject to constant cleaning and disinfectant so women can continue to use them without fear of contracting the virus. The Chief Rabbinate stressed that swimming pools and Jacuzzis cannot take the place of a proper mikveh if a woman becomes a niddah (woman in a state of ritual impurity).

3. Mourning:

Shiva and consolation visits cannot be held. Instead, comforting the mourner should be done through telephone or e-mail. Mourners themselves must observe the customs of mourning such as the shiva.

4. Sale of Chametz:

Chametz can be sold through the website of the Chief Rabbinate.

There are places that cannot be checked for chametz because they cannot be reached at present because of the instructions of the authorities, such as: schools, offices, etc, and they should have their chametz sold.

All sales of chametz should be concluded before Tuesday, April 7.

5. Kashering of utensils

If utensils cannot be brought to a mikvah to be immersed, they can be given as a gift to a non-Jew (no real handing over has to take place) and then 'borrowed' from them. If this cannot be done directly then it can be done through the Chief Rabbinate website. After the corona distancing period is over, the utensils should be immersed in a mikvah for dishes but without a blessing.

6. Home kashering of dishes

Dishes used during the year can also be made kosher for Passover in a home baking oven. This is only for dishes that do not have parts made of wood, plastic or rubber. Keep completely clean in a clean oven (you do not need the oven itself to be Kosher for Passover) and operate the oven on maximum heat for 20 minutes. (This option is only available for this year).

It is recommended that one purchase disposable dishes.

7. Fast of the first-born

All first-born males are required to fast on erev Pesach. This year, they are asked to attempt to finish a tractate of Mishnayot by erev Pesach so they will not have to fast. If they cannot finish a tractate themselves, they may listen to a 'siyum' of another over the phone or online so they will not have to fast.

8. Burning chametz

The Chief Rabbinate forbids the burning of chametz, leavened goods, this year. Instead, the chametz should be thrown out after being bleached so that not even a dog would eat it.

9. Blessings during the seder

People who do not have a sense of taste because they are ill with the coronavirus should still make all the blessings one would normally make at the seder

10. Use of electronic devices during the festival

The Chief Rabbinate emphasizes that the active use of electricity is forbidden on the first and last day of Pesach. Therefore, livestreaming Seders through applications such as Zoom is also forbidden.

“The loneliness is painful and we must find a solution for it, perhaps with a video conversation before the holiday begins, but not by violating the holiday, which is only permitted in cases where there is a danger to human life," the Chief Rabbinate said.