April 23, 2020
Here are some halakhic guidelines:
According to the Ministry of Health's instructions, on Yom HaAtzmaut, the policy is to return to the general lockdown. Therefore, during this day, we are required to go back to having minyanim on balconies and in courtyards only. Nuclear family can gather on the balcony or private courtyard. No one is permitted to gather in the street, courtyard, shul, parking, lot etc.
Reminder: Today, minyanim of up to 19 people are permitted in a radius of up to 500 meters from home. Everyone must wear a mask and maintain a distance of 2 meters from each other. If there are more than 19 people, the minyan must be divided into two.
As a matter of principle, these minyanim should not use a Torah. One person should read the parsha and the haftara from a tanach, without making a bracha.
In the event that it can be arranged in a respectable manner and according to the instructions, a Torah scroll can be used in a location near the shul, or a private Torah scroll may be used if the owners are responsible for it.
The reason for this is that two people are needed to take the Torah out of the Aron Kodesh and into the outdoor space, and it is currently not permitted for two people to be so close together. Also, it is not honorable for the Torah to be taken outside. (This is not a problem on Simchat Torah when many people are together, and all are watching over the Torah. Today we are not allowed to congregate in large groups.)
Regarding the reading of previous parashiyot - reading Torah is a communal obligation and not a personal obligation like reading Megillat Esther. We therefore do not need to complete the reading of previous parshiyot.
We emphasize that there should be no minyanim in any building, shul, private home, public building, etc., even when it is raining, and if there is no open space that is covered, people should daven individually.
Starting Sunday of next week we will return to saying Tachnun. Here in Efrat, Rabbi Riskin has decided that we will continue to follow the custom of Jerusalem which does the 'nefilat HaApayim' even when there is no Torah present.
Since Rabbi Riskin ruled that this year it is permitted to get a haircut on Yom HaAtzmaut, you can get a haircut before the lockdown.
May it be that as we taste the beginning of our redemption on Yom HaAtzmaut, so we will merit complete redemption from all the various epidemics and threats that we are currently seeing.
HaRav Shlomo Riskin - Mara D'atra
HaRav Eytan Weisz, Secretary of the Religious Council