Minyanim: An Observation by Rav Yitzchak Berkowits Shlita


by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5TJT.com
Rav Yitzchak Berkowitz Shlita is one of the most prominent Poskim in Eretz Yisroel and is the go to Posaik for several thousand anglos living in Eretz Yisroel.  He is currently in shloshim for his father who had passed away due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.  His observations he should inform how we should be proceeding.

Rabbosai!I have been davening on my rooftop (being mitztaref to a minyan down below) from where I get to see the goings-on in the area.

The matzav is out of control. People are dreying around without masks, minyanim allegedly keeping to the rules but in reality are nothing more than “kosher-style” without masks, krias haTorah is as usual and the two meters observed for Shmoneh Esrei at best. It seems as if people are under the misconception that the government’s decision to allow outdoor minyanim is an “all clear” sign and that the danger is ostensibly over.

Let’s face it, adhering to the [Misrad Habriyut’s] rules in a minyan is not so practical and is just not happening.

Even if you believe your minyan is the exception, we must make a statement. We must not Chas V’Sholom turn into another Boro Park, Lakewood or Monsey. The mashchis has not been mavchin. It has attacked yereim ushleimim, manhigim and roshei yeshiva no less than any other part of the population, if not more. Who has the right to claim bitachon on the cheshbon of chalilah infecting others and endangering their lives?

I urge our kehilla and the entire Anglo community in Eretz Yisroel to go back to the mirpesset minyanim or davening b’yichidus. I am r”l in shloshim for my father hc”m and have yet to daven far amud once. I am sure that in today’s situation, urging the tzibbur to take things seriously is a greater zechus.

Nobody in this world knows if, when and how this is going to end. Gedolei Yisroel will have to determine how to maintain Talmud Torah for young and old without recklessly endangering the tzibbur. The danger of worldwide rifyon is more serious than the threat of Coronavirus, and we do not have the right to be mekil on either front.

For now, I would suggest that all of you are mischazek in your own davening (aren’t 9 and 10AM Shachris minyanim in public during an eis tzarah something of a chilul HaSHeM?) and maintain for yourselves sedorim in your regular learning as well as in sforim that inspire more Ahava and Yirah. And of course, take advantage of everyone homebound in strengthening the family bond.

And May HaSHeM Hear our tefillos and bring not only a yeshuah from the mageifeh, but the geulah sheleimah bimheira.

Yitzchak Berkovits