Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi, David Lau, issued guidelines on Monday that stated coronavirus patients and those with possible symptoms of the disease were prohibited from fasting on Tisha B’Av, which will begin at sundown on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately for all of us, the plague is intensifying and we need the mercy of heaven,” Lau said, according to Israeli news site N12.
“The weather on Tisha B’Av will be warmer than usual,” he added, “and therefore, in addition to the duty we all have to observe the guidelines of the Ministry of Health in full, I would like to add these halachic guidelines as well.”
Lau declared that fasting was forbidden in the following cases:
- A patient diagnosed with the coronavirus, even if they do not feel sick.
- Anyone with a fever of over 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Those who have symptoms of the coronavirus, even if they have not been diagnosed.
- Those recovering from the coronavirus.
- Those who have fully recovered but still feel physically weak.
In addition, anyone currently under quarantine who has no symptoms should fast, but if they feel physical weakness, they can drink minimal liquids. If the weakness gets worse, they are not permitted to fast.
Those permitted to eat, however, should do so only to the extent necessary to maintain their health and no more. In addition, they must observe the remainder of the day’s traditions.
Besides Lau’s guidelines, other adjustments are being made to the observation of Tisha B’Av, a solemn day on which disasters that have befallen the Jewish people ‐‐ including the destruction of the Temples ‐‐ are remembered.
The recital of public lamentations will be shortened and they do not have to be recited in a synagogue. In addition, prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City will be restricted, with prayers being recited only in groups of 20 people apiece and the total number of worshipers capped at 1,000.
Normally, tens of thousands of people observe Tisha B’Av at the Western Wall.
To provide an alternative option, a prayer service at the Western Wall will be broadcast live. It can be viewed at www.thekotel.org.