From the Rav’s Desk: What to do about Parshas Zachar if in quarantine due to Covid-19?

  1. Question: [Thursday, 5th Adar 5781]

Rabbi, due to COVID-19 I am in quarantine and possibly sick with the virus. What should I do about Parshas Zachar?


Unfortunately, despite the great value and importance of hearing Parshas Zachar which is biblical, you cannot participate in a minyan in Shul due to your predicament and the possible health risk to the public, as is always the case with all matters of danger of life that they differ all Mitzvos. Nonetheless, you have the following other options available.

  1. Arrange for a minyan to read Zachar outside your window: If you are able to arrange a minyan with a Sefer Torah to read Parshas Zachar outside your home from where you can listen from a window, this would be the best option. Although in general it is forbidden to carry a Sefer Torah outside of a Shul for the purpose of an individual hearing the reading, the Poskim write that Parshas Zachar is an exception to the rule being that is Biblical, and therefore in your predicament a Sefer Torah may be brought outside your home for you to hear the reading. Nonetheless, there is still another Halachic problem applicable which is the position of some Poskim that it is forbidden to simply make a reading just for Zachar, as the reading must come as a continuation of the entire weekly Parsha, being read as Maftir. The solution for this issue is as follows: Try to arrange with the local Shul Minyan that as soon as they conclude the reading of the weekly Parsha [i.e. Teruma] they should then split up for Maftir and have 10 people come with a Sefer Torah to outside your home for you to hear their reading of Maftir-Zachor. If there is only one Sefer Torah available in shul, then at least 6 people can simply step outside while Maftir-Zachar is being read in Shul, and after they are done, these six people with another four will then go with the Sefer Torah to outside your home to read their Maftir-Zachor.
  2. No minyan available: If the above is not applicable, either due to the shul being too distanced in proximity or for whatever other reason that it cannot be arranged, then you should do the following:
    1. Read the portion of Zachar to yourself at home from a Chumash.
    2. If applicable, make sure to go to shul for Shacharis on Purim and intend during the Purim Torah reading of Amaleik to fulfill your obligation of Zachar with that reading, which is valid according to most Poskim. If you are still in quarantine at this time and cannot attend, you still have a chance to make up the mitzvah later on in the year when Parshas Ki Seitzei is read towards the end of the summer. You should make for yourself a reminder on your calendar that when that Parsha arrives that you will intend to fulfill the biblical Mitzvah of Zachar. You should also inform the Baal Korei at that time to have in mind to fulfill your Biblical obligation when he reads it. Even if you attend the reading on Purim, it is proper to have the Mitzvah in mind again by Parshas Ki Seitzei, in order to fulfill it according to all Poskim.

Sources: See regarding bringing a Sefer Torah for Zachar: M”A 135:23 based on Oar Zarua [regarding Zachor]; M”B 135:46 [adds even Parah]; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 135:26: See regarding the issue and debate with making just a reading for Zachar: Birkeiy Yosef 685:3; Tzitz Eliezer 16:21; Sheivet Halevy 4:71; See regarding reading Zachar to oneself from a Chumash if he cannot attend a Minyan: Rama 685:7; Kaf Hachaim 685:35; See regarding being Yotzei Zachar with the Purim Torah reading: M”A 685:1 and so rules Beir Heiytiv 685:2; P”M 685 M”Z 12; Shaareiy Efraim 8:85; Minchas Elazar 2:1; Kaf Hachaim 685:28; Dissenting opinion: Aruch Hashulchan 685:5; Hisorerus Teshuvah 1:5; M”B 685:8; Mahril Diskin 2 Kuntrus Acharon 5:111; See regarding being Yotzei Zachar with the Torah reading of Ki Seitzei: Aruch Hashulchan ibid; Hisvadyos 1989 2 p. 442-446 printed in Shaar Hamoadim Adar 46-47

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