Rabbi David Lau
Rabbi David LauNoam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

Coronavirus patients should not fast during the upcoming Tisha B’Av fast day, Israel’s Chief Rabbi said Monday.

Rabbi David Lau, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, released a statement Monday urging the public to take special precautions during this week’s Tisha B’Av fast, citing both the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the expected hot weather.

“Unfortunately for all of us, the pandemic is strengthening and we need the mercy of heaven,” wrote Rabbi Lau.

“The weather on Tisha B’Av is supposed to be hotter than usual. Therefore, in addition to the general obligation on all of us to fully comply with the Health Ministry’s instructions, I would also like to add the following halachic instructions.”

Rabbi Lau wrote that people confirmed as being infected with the coronavirus should not fast – even if they do not presently feel unwell, and that anyone exhibiting symptoms of the virus should also not take part in the fast, even if they have not yet been diagnosed.

“A diagnosed patient must not fast, even if he or she feels well.”

“Anyone who has a fever over 38 degrees Celsius (100 F) is forbidden to fast.”

“Anyone who is exhibiting symptoms which are associated with the coronavirus, including fatigue, coughing, and a loss of the sense of taste should not fast.”

“Anyone in the process of recovering from the coronavirus should not fast.”

Rabbi Lau added that patients who have recovered from the virus but still feel weak also should not fast.

But people currently in mandatory isolation who have not shown any symptoms and have not been diagnosed should fast. If they feel weak at all during the fast, they should drink periodically (up to 37 milliliters once every nine minutes). If the feeling of weakness persists, the should eat without restriction.

“Anyone who is prohibited to fast should not try to fast at all, and they are not obligated to limit the amount they eat.

“People who are permitted to eat during the fast day should eat only as necessary, and should have only a single dish each meal.”

The rabbi also called for the shortening of the ‘Kinnot’ (ritual elegies recited during Tisha B’Av), so as to minimize the amount of time worshippers are outdoors in the heat during prayer services