The Torah, also known as the 5 Books of Moses explains the legal obligations of the Jewish people and the Jewish law known as “Halacha” is based on the commandments which is known as “mitzvot”. In Judaism, mitzvah means obligation or commandment. The mitzvot teaches the Jews how to act when they deal with other people. Among the various commandments mentioned in the Jewish mitzvot, Pikuach Nefesh is the most important commandment or obligation. According to the concept of Pikuach Nefesh, the Jewish people should give top priority to safety of human life. A follower of Judaism has the privilege to break the laws mentioned in the “Halacha” if the purpose is to save a human life. Thus Pikuach Nefesh proclaims that human life is precious and that its safety is very important. The pandemic known as Corona has raised a severe challenge to entire humanity and the Corona virus had created a horrible situation due to which people are forced to be away from one another. The government authorities are asking the people to strictly avoid gatherings, mass prayers and all types of crowds. The Jews used to gather in the Synagogues and today the Synagogues are shut to prevent community transmission of Corona virus. The “mikvah” inside a Synagogue contains sufficient quantity of good water which is used by people for ritual cleansing. Unfortunately, Corona has made the mikvah unsafe.
Uphold Pikuach Nefesh
Under the current circumstances, group prayer is not advisable since peoples’ gathering together may have dire consequences. Hence, during these days of Corona, the Jews may have to temporarily stop the practice of praying with a minyan. People who are in isolation or in quarantine also want to pray. Ten adults constitute a minyan and in these days of Corona we cannot expect ten people to be physically present in one place. A more lenient approach is necessary. Those who are in isolation and others who are supposed to remain in their homes can have to find new methods to pray to god. Minyan can facilitate spreading of the deadly virus and for a few days at least Synagogues are not safe places to gather. This is time for the Jews to uphold the principle of Pikuach Nefesh which ensures priority to save human lives. Those who are in isolation and others who have to remain in their homes can start practicing meditation so as to focus their minds and prevent distractions effectively.
Establish mental presence
When Corona virus is threatening the entire world, the challenge before the Jewish community is to find out new methods and create new ways to get connected to Almighty. For the Jews, the Kaddish Prayer is very important. However, this is not the time for them to feel sad and deprived just because they are unable to offer praises to Almighty and thank him in the company of their loved ones. Instead of worrying about the physical presence they can use mental presence as the best substitute. Every Jew, whether in isolation or inside his home can offer his prayers to god while playing a stringed instrument or can pray to god three times a day with the siddur in their hands. With the tehillim and siddur the Jews can meditate and be mentally connected to god even though they are physically isolated.