How to fulfill the Mitzvos of Purim if you are quarantined due to the Coronavirus

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How to fulfill the Mitzvos of Purim if you are quarantined due to the Coronavirus:[1]

Due to the unfortunate epidemic of the coronavirus, millions of people across the world are under a medically mandated quarantine and isolation and the question is asked as to how a Jew who is under these conditions is to fulfill the Mitzvos of the Purim holiday. It goes without saying that one may not bend or compromise on the medical directives and exit his state of isolation even for the sake of fulfilling the Purim Mitzvos. The following however are some directives that can be followed:

  1. Megillah reading: The person who is in quarantine may not leave his home even for the sake of reading or hearing Megillah. This applies by both night and day, and applies to both men and women. However, if the person is not sick and does not show any signs or symptoms of the illness, then one should try to prearrange for someone to read him the Megillah from outside his home, such as near a window, or by the staircase of a condominium, outside the door. Alternatively, one is to have a kosher Megillah dropped off by them, and read it themselves with a blessing if they know how to read it with proper punctuation. [One may for this purpose listen on headphones to a recording of the reading of the Megillah, and then read along out loud.] If all the above options are not practical then one is exempt from the Megillah reading due to Oness. Nonetheless, even in such a case, one is to read the Megillah from a Chumash[2] without a blessing.[3] Likewise, if possible, one may tune into a live reading via internet or phone, as although we rule that one does not fulfill his obligation through doing so, nonetheless there is nothing to lose by it.[4]
  2. Mishloach Manos and Matanos Laevyonim: To fulfill this mitzvah one can prearrange for a family member, or store, to deliver Mishloach Manos on ones behalf on the day of Purim.
  3. Seudas Purim: One is to perform the festive meal in isolation without having any guests present.


[1] Based on a publicized letter of Tzach in Israel

[2] What type of Chumash is this Halacha referring to? Some Poskim [M”A 691:10; Bach] explain that this refers to a Pasul Megillah, such as a Megillah written on parchment and is sewed and rolls like a Sefer Torah, however has some invalidation, in which case according to some opinions [see Rama 143:4] one fulfills his obligation in a time of need. However by a printed Chumash one does not fulfill his obligation according to any opinion, [and hence there is no need to read from it]. [M”A ibid] However other Poskim [Mateh Yehuda brought in Kaf Hachaim 691:35] rule that it refers even to a Megillah written in a Chumash, as in a time of need one fulfills his obligation with it. Practically although we rule a printed Megillah is invalid, even in a time of need [Beis Oved 691:23], nevertheless one is to read from a Chumash if nothing else is available. [Beis Oved ibid; Mamar Mordechai 691:5; Kaf Hachaim 691:35; P”M 691 A”A 10; M”B 691:27] 

[3] Michaber 691:10

[4] Daas Torah 689 based on Halachos Ketanos; Mahraiy Engel Brachos 25; Rav SZ”A in Minchas Shlomo 1:9 “One cannot be Yotzei anything from a microphone and speakers or the radio and telephone, and those who puzzle at this ruling simply do not understand the mechanics of these machines, thinking erroneously that there is some kind of magical transportation of the persons actual voice. I have lengthened in this Teshuvah to negate this mistake, as they do not know the truth, and I have spoken with people knowledgeable of this matter, and they all agree with me.”; Eretz Tzvi 1:23; Mishpitei Uziel 1:5; Final ruling of Chazon Ish, as brought in previous footnotes; Minchas Yitzchak 1:37 and 3:38; Yechaveh Daas 2:68; 3:54; Chazon Ovadia Megillah 56; Mishneh Halachos 4:85; Kinyan Torah 1:75; Beir Moshe 3:166-168; Piskeiy Teshuvos 689:3; Rebbe in Igros Kodesh 23:304 and Likkutei Sichos 21:496, printed in Shulchan Menachem 3:319,“What is heard is not a man’s voice at all (and does not even resemble the case of one who sounds a Shofar in a pit). It is obviously most novel, even strange, to suggest that an indirect effect (koach kocho) and a basic transformation of the very nature of speech, should serve as a substitute for speech. Even though the recent scholars who have ruled otherwise include reputed poskim, it is evident from their very responsa that those who explained them the nature and workings of the telephone made a basic mistake.”; Rav Yaakov Yosef Z”l completely invalidates using it, and states the Poskim who permitted made a mistake in their understanding of these systems; The following lenient Poskim all agree that one is initially to be stringent: Igros Moshe 2:108; 4:126; Tzitz Eliezer 8:11; Sheivet Halevi 5:84 that it is forbidden to hear from the above systems even though it is possible that one is Yotzei

Other opinions: Initially, there were some Poskim who understood that one may fulfill a Mitzvah through hearing it on a radio, telephone, microphone or broadcast system. [Minchas Elazar 2:72; Rav Pesach Tzevi Frank in Mikraei Kodesh 11 based on Halachos Ketanos 2:45; Hearos on Halachos Ketanos 276; Possibility entertained by Igros Moshe 2:108; 4:126 regarding Bedieved or time of need [See there that his leaning opinion is to permit being Yotzei and that so should be done in a case of need, that one is unable to hear Havdala or Megillah otherwise, and that perhaps one is not to protest one who is lenient, although he concludes to protest being that the allowance is unclear]; Tzitz Eliezer 8:11-10 regarding Bedieved or time of need; Sheivet Halevi 5:84 that from the letter of the law seemingly one is Yotzei [Rav Yaakov Meir Shtern claimed that the Shevet Halevi was indeed lenient to rely on this Bedieved ]; Opinion of Rav Shteinman quoted in Vayishma Moshe Gilyon 23]

The opinion of the Chazon Ish: Chazon Ish, brought by Rav SZ”A in footnote in Minchas Shlomo 1:9, replied to Rav SZ”A with an argument to be lenient to validate if one heard a Mitzvah from a microphone, radio and the like, although Rav SZ”A concluded that he does not understand his argument; Practically, Rav Chaim Kanievsky stated that the Chazon Ish was not lenient to permit hearing Megillah from a microphone and even Bedieved one is required to re-hear it.

Other opinions who rule that despite the new and confirmed knowledge of the system one can be Yotzei: Some of the lenient Poskim ibid rule that despite the confirmed understanding of the mechanics of the above machines and that the sound is not the natural voice, nevertheless one is still Yotzei, or is at least questionably Yotzei the Mitzvah, as perhaps there is no need to hear the actual voice so long as the voice that one hears is the direct result of the actual voice and is heard at the same time as his natural voice. [See Chazon Ish ibid; Igros Moshe ibid; Mikraeiy Kodesh ibid; Tzitz Eliezer ibid]

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