Israeli Chief Rabbi Curbs a Jewish Tradition Over Coronavirus Fears

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A polling station in Tel Aviv for those in isolation over  the coronavirus.
A polling station in Tel Aviv for those in isolation over the coronavirus, March 2, 2020.Credit: David Bachar

David Lau, Israel's chief rabbi, has issued a statement advising Jews that in light of the virus, they should not touch or kiss mezuzahs – scrolls inscribed with Biblical verses contained in a case placed on a doorpost that observant Jews traditionally touch or kiss when they enter a building or room. 

In an advisory published in the Israeli media on Wednesday, Lau said there was no religious obligation to carry out the practice, and it was enough for Jews to reflect on the scroll's message when entering or leaving a home.

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The handwritten parchment contains the Biblical "Shema" prayer verse that declares: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One."

"During these days, when we are witness to the spread of a serious disease, there is no doubt that one should not kiss the mezuzah or touch it at all," Lau wrote.

Some Jewish faithful also kiss their fingers when touching the mezuzah.

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