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Live Stream Seder?

Tuesday, 31 March, 2020 - 11:53 pm


NOTE: The answers below reflect the current positions of halachic and medical authorities in Sydney, Australia. Opinions may vary from place to place. Refer to your local authority before making any conclusions. 




Question: Is it true that rabbis have allowed Seders to be live streamed this year so elders can see their family?


Answer: In a word, NO. Live streaming is forbidden on Shabbos and Yomtov. There are certain specific circumstances when an exception is made, where life is in danger. If you think that applies to you or anyone you know, ask your rabbi.




Question: We are a young couple and we need to do our Pesach shopping. But going out of the house is risking our lives. So what are we supposed to do?


Answer: Unless you are infected with the virus or had close contact with someone who is, you are permitted to leave your house for your basic needs. This includes buying food. No one is suggesting that walking on the streets will kill you. The idea is that limiting our contact with others will slow the spread of the virus. We may get it anyway, but by mostly staying home we stagger the infection rates, which avoids overburdening the health system. 


So you can do your Pesach shopping while following the current guidelines and stay safe. And being that you are young and healthy, maybe call an elderly person who can't go out and do their Pesach shopping for them. 




Question: My grandfather risked his life in communist Russia by going to shul, even though he knew he could be killed for doing so. Shouldn't we be willing to do the same and go to shul now, even if it risks our life?


Answer: Jewish law stipulates that when an evil regime attempts to quash Jewish practice, we should be willing to die rather than give in. The communists wanted to uproot Judaism, so your grandfather valiantly took up the fight, and kept his Jewishness despite the risk. He was a hero. 


Today's enemy is totally different. We are fighting against an indiscriminate disease that doesn't care about your beliefs. The virus sees no difference between a religious devotee praying in a house of worship or a sports fan cheering in a stadium. It will infect both equally. So there is no mitzvah to risk yourself or others by gathering to pray. On the contrary, it is a mitzvah to listen to the rabbis in your community. If they are saying that public prayer is forbidden, it is going against the Torah to ignore them.


Communism was fought by being defiant in the face of the threat and praying in shul. This virus is fought by staying at home and praying at home. A family that stays together, prays together. 


Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss

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