With Purim just a few weeks away and the realization that Covid-19 has created unique circumstances, it is the purpose of this document to outline the special features that pertain uniquely to this year’s Purim holiday. We present this Halakhic guidance, which has been reviewed and approved by Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Kollel of Yeshiva University, and a world respected Posek, as our united community policy.
Kriyat Parashat Zachor:
The practice to hear Parashat Zachor (which are the last three Pesukim in Parashat Ki Teitzei in Chumash Devarim) traditionally takes place on the Shabbat preceding Purim. If you are able to attend a Minyan and hear the Torah reading at that time you should do so. If you are not able to attend a Minyan due to Covid-19 considerations:
a) If you have access to a Sefer Torah you should read Zachor from the Torah, but without Brakhot.
b) If you don’t have access to a Sefer Torah, you should read Zachor from a Chumash. In this case, during the coming summer, when Parashat Ki -Teitzei is read (Shabbat August 21st), you should have in mind that you are fulfilling the mitzvah of Zachor with that Torah reading.
Megillah on Purim Night and Day:
If you are able to hear the Megillah in person with a Minyan on both Purim night and day, you should absolutely do so. If due to Covid-19 concerns you are not able to leave your home to attend a Minyan, and you are not able to read the Megillah on your own from a Kosher Megillah, then you should follow the Megillah via the Zoom transmission that will be arranged by your community Shul. In such a circumstance it is preferable to follow the reading with a Kosher Megillah and to recite the Megillah along with the Ba’al Kriah word for word. If this is not possible then you can simply listen to the reading via Zoom.
A general note: If one is reading the Megillah without a Minyan, the concluding blessing of “Harav Et Reveynu” should not be said.
We would like to emphasize that under normal circumstances, hearing the Megillah via Zoom is not ideal and our Psak is only for this year due to the extenuating considerations that Covid-19 has created.
Purim Seudah, Mishloach Manot and Matanot L’Evyonim:
This year Purim falls out on Thursday night and Friday creating a challenge of when to have the Purim Seudah (as one cannot fulfil the Mitzvah on Thursday night). One should have a Purim Seudah either for breakfast or lunch on Friday. The meal should be a festive one, similar to a regular year, preferably featuring meat and wine.
The Mitzvot of Mishloach Manot and Matanot L’Evyonim can only be fulfilled on Purim day. We would like to remind you that social distancing rules still apply, and we therefore urge you to avoid social gatherings or close proximity to those outside your immediate family when delivering Mishloach Manot or having your Purim Seudah.
Mishloach Manot only requires that you send two food items to one person. This year, because many people are concerned about receiving food from outside their home, it is worth considering reducing the amount of Misholach Manot one distributes. Additionally, consider supporting your shul Mishloach Manot programs.
Matanot L’evyonim requires that we give money to at least two people so they can celebrate Purim. By appointing your rabbi to distribute the money on Purim you can accomplish this Mitzvah. You can give the money to your rabbi for Matanot L’evyonim even before Purim.
Wishing everyone a safe and wonderful Purim Sameach,
Rabbi Pini Dunner
Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky
Rabbi Elazar Muskin
Rabbi Kalman Topp
Rabbi Jason Weiner