During this time, we find ourselves preparing for the upcoming Pesach holiday. Unfortunately, as a result of the current situation we find ourselves being confined to our homes because of COVID-19, there are many questions which arise. We will use this forum to answer some of them and answer others during the coming days.
Joining a Minyan
In places where it is still permissible for ten people to pray together while following social distancing protocols, these people will be able to form a Minyan when they are in the same domain, such as in a garden, large courtyard, and the like. However, if a public domain is separating them, such as if five people are gathered on a porch on one side of the street and five on the other, they do not join together to form a Minyan.
However, if there are already ten people in one place and someone else sees some of them from a further place, this individual may join them even when he is in another domain.
Wearing a Mask
One must make sure to dress in a respectable manner while praying (even alone), as the verse states, “Prepare yourself before your G-d, Israel.” It is therefore improper to pray while wearing a face mask. Only when there is great concern one may be infected, such as, if one is in the hospital, one then retains the law of an ill person about whom Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 94) writes that there is room for leniency regarding some of the laws of prayer. The same applies here.
The “Ha’Gomel” Blessing
When one leaves quarantine without having been ill, one does not recite “Ha’Gomel.” However, if one was ill to the extent that one was bedridden, when one recovers, one must recite the “Ha’Gomel” based on the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 219). One should recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing the next time one is in the presence of ten men (not virtually), even if several weeks pass until one has such an opportunity.
If one has new vessels or dishes for Pesach which require immersion in a Mikveh, during this period of time when it is not possible to immerse one’s vessels in the Mikveh, one may alternatively gift them physically to a non-Jew one is acquainted with and then ask him to lend it back to him. In this way, the vessels will be exempt from immersion. (If one has the ability to drive alone to an ocean, sea, or stream to immerse the vessels in, one should preferably do so instead.) However, using such dishes as is without immersing them or giving them as a gift to a non-Jew is forbidden.