My very dear Mevaser Tzion members, May G-d give you bless and bestow upon you life forever!
It is with great sorrow, and after a long discussion with a professional physician, that we find ourselves required to temporarily close the shul doors, and completely prevent any gathering within it. By doing so, we follow the Talmudic instruction in Baba Kama, 60b: “At time of plague, gather your feet [home]”, and the related words of the Rem”a (Shulchan Aruch, Yore Deah 116:5): “All these measures are taken to avoid danger; he who cares for his soul will distance himself – and one is not allowed to rely on a miracle or to endanger his life”.
A Beit Knesset is a “small temple”, and the daily prayers are parallel to the daily Korbanot (sacrificial offerings). Thus, the ceasing of the daily davening in shul is equal to the ceasing of the daily offering on the 17th of Tammuz. Woe to us that in our sins such has befallen us.
A shul is the house of G-d, and what human being may dare to close the house of Hashem? But He had commanded us once: “And you must guard your life very much”, and added: “Do not stand idly over your fellow’s blood”, and concluded: “You shall observe My statutes and My ordinances, which a man shall do and live by them. I am Hashem”. Therefore, it is the commandment of G-d we do today, as we announce the closing of His house, for the sake of preserving the life of His children.
The closure of the shul’s gates does not mean the closure of the gates of heaven. On the contrary – the Jewish people and the entire world need our tefilla now more than ever. We must use this opportunity for davening alone to make our personal tefilla deeper and more meaningful. Those of us who stay at home with their children may use this opportunity to daven with them and teach them the difficult art of davening.
The stopping of gatherings for shiurim does not mean silencing the voice of Torah. On the contrary – “If not Your Torah had been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction”. Only the word of G-d can give us consolation and guidance in this challenging hour. All our shiurim moved to the virtual realm, and each and every one of us can participate in these shiurim or to add learning by himself, as “Torah is protecting and saving”.
The ceasing of coming physically together as a community does not mean the ceasing of our communal life. On the contrary – we need each other and are committed towards one another more than ever. In these difficult times of isolation, we must look after our friends and neighbors – especially those who may be sick or otherwise vulnerable, and make sure they will pass these days in peace.
Please G-d, in the coming days we will announce on different means that will enable us to enhance our Tefilla, learning and chesed, and make them even more meaningful.
The Closure of the shul is a step aimed at saving human life, but it will only make a difference if we all internalize the basic guidance – one may not leave his house but for the most essential needs!
בתפילה לישועה ולנחמה
ברוך וינטרוב, רב בית הכנסת
מבשר ציון, תל-מונד