by R. Gil Student
The beautiful flow of Jewish life was tragically diverted by Coronavirus. The pandemic altered our experiences of communal worship, celebrations, mourning and the plethora of daily rituals that constitute a major part of Jewish life. Many people were traumatized to varying degrees by the disruptions caused by the pandemic, without even discussing the great suffering and loss of life. These changes impacted halachah in ways that are both obvious and less evident—changes that are not revolutionary but perhaps express a sign of significant evolution.
Halachah represents the lived faith of the Jewish people, the practical application of our beliefs that strengthens our faith by incorporating sanctity into our daily lives. Even when we are under stress and duress, we need halachah in order to function spiritually. Halachah contains built-in mechanisms to address unusual circumstances when health concerns require alternative religious behavior. We observed that process working robustly, as, for example, people prayed at home rather than with a minyan, sold new kitchen utensils rather than immersing them in a mikveh when the kelim mikva’ot were closed, and arranged with their rabbi for the sale of their chametz over the phone rather than in person.I thank the many respondents over Twitter who offered these and many more examples.
However, major shocks to a system often cause change and realignments, as Torah leaders are forced to adjust common practice for the unusual times, and these adjustments leave an imprint going forward. Based on what we have experienced so far in this pandemic, what will—or should—halachah look like going forward after the crisis? I would like to divide this discussion into four sections: specific halachot, attitudes within halachah, the overall halachic process and the question of whether we have entered a new era of halachic history.
Continued at Jewish Action: link
|↑1||I thank the many respondents over Twitter who offered these and many more examples.|