In response to numerous queries the Beth Din has received concerning davening without a minyan and other matters during the Covid-19 outbreak, we advise as follows:
• Congregants should make every effort to daven Shacharit and Mincha at the same time that their shul minyanim would normally daven. This is to maintain good habits and also so that it should be considered “prayer at a favourable time”, i.e. when the rest of the community is davening.
• Ideally, when one davens without a minyan, one should daven Maariv at the proper time after nightfall. However if there is a concern that this will lead people to forget to daven Maariv, then it is advisable that people daven Mincha before sunset and Maariv after sunset.
• If one is davening at home in a room where Sifrei Kodesh (Jewish Holy Books such as a Chumash, Tanach, Talmud etc.) are usually housed, then one may recite Tachanun while resting upon one’s arm, as is done in the presence of a Sefer Torah.
• When praying at home or elsewhere, one should endeavour to have a set location where he davens in which there will be minimal distractions.
• One should still dress in the same manner for prayer at home as he would when coming to shul.
• People with young children and/or infants should ensure that they do not daven in the presence of soiled nappies.
• Where a ‘minyan’ is taking place through a virtual platform, such as Zoom, no devarim sh’bekedusha (prayers requiring a minyan) may be recited. This includes Kaddish, Kedusha, the repetition of the Amidah, Torah Reading and the Thirteen Attributes of Hashem’s Mercy.
• Participants in a virtual minyan may answer Amen to the brachot of the ‘chazzan’ but should not answer at times when one is not permitted to interrupt one’s prayers.
• Although one may answer Amen to blessings recited on a virtual platform, one does not discharge one’s obligation to perform that particular mitzvah, such as Havdalah or blessings for the performance of a mitzvah or for physical enjoyment, such as for food and drink.
• Congregants should be encouraged to learn the parsha by themselves, one aliyah per day in the style of shnayim mikrah v’echad targum, reciting each verse twice with a translation and/or Rashi’s commentary. They should attempt to complete the parsha by/on Shabbat and to read the Haphtarah. Rabbis can assist in this regard by sending daily summaries of the parsha.
• To assist those who are in mourning, learning Torah (such as Mishna) in merit of the soul of the deceased parent or relative should be done in place of Kaddish. Rabbis are encouraged to set up WhatsApp Groups in which they regularly share Divrei Torah with their congregants. The congregant should say that he is doing the learning as a merit for the soul of the departed.
• A siyum on the Fast of the Firstborn on Erev Pesach may be done in real time over a virtual platform but the special Kaddish should not be recited.
• The Blessing of the New Month, recited on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh and Avinu Malkeinu, recited on fast days, may be recited by one davening alone. However the following prayers must be omitted: the blessing Magen Avot after the Amidah on Friday night and the last two paragraphs of Yekum Purkan on Shabbat morning. When reciting the Shemah one must add the words “El Melech Ne’eman” before the recitation, as indicated in the siddur.
For and on behalf of the Beth Din,
RABBI D BADDIEL