The Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah issued the following statement today:
In English Translation:
An Urgent Call from the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah:
The Hand of Hashem has struck us twice, with a terrible pandemic and a difficult decree, incomparable to anything in recent memory: a plague in which thousands of our brethren fell, among whom were great Torah scholars and community leaders; and by being removed from Hashem’s Presence by having shuls and batei medrash closed around the world. It is incumbent on us to better our ways and to repent to Hashem, every person and his community, as they recognize their own shortcomings. Specifically, we have to be mindful that the world operates in a measure-for-measure way; it is possible that these decrees came because we were not acting properly regarding the holiness of Shuls and batei medrash.
Hashem has been merciful and we have recently seen a glimmer of hope in that the decree of closing of Shuls has become somewhat lifted, and – with specific conditions – local jurisdictions in many states have permitted returning to them, with the approval of expert doctors. But we must be careful not to repeat our earlier mistakes. Therefore, when we return to Shul, we must accept on ourselves to act with greater care for the fundamentals of public prayer and the holiness of Shul. For this reason, we have come to suggest actions regarding the holiness of Shul and prayer — some of which are the plain halachah — that we should accept on ourselves when we return to prayer in Shul.
Conduct in Regards to the Holiness of Shul and Prayer:
- To envision for ourselves when we arrive to Shul that we are standing in the dwelling of Hashem.
- Although we have become habituated to praying alone, that we should now exceedingly try, if permitted to do so, to pray with a minyan and in Shul, which has many benefits.
- To pray as if we were standing in front of a king, and not to hurry.
- Shuls should, when permitted to do so and in a permitted manner, add more shiurim and learning with a chavrusa, which were diminished during the pandemic.
- Not to engage in idle chatter in Shul; not to talk at all and to pay attention during chazaras hashatz and keri’as haTorah; and not to leave Shul until the prayer is over.
- Not to bring publications with non-Torah content into Shul.
- To turn off the ringers of cell phones, and not to take cell phones out of one’s pocket, in Shul.
May it be the will of Hashem that the merit of our strengthening ourselves in these areas should enable us to have a true acceptance of the Torah on the upcoming holiday of Shavuos. May we merit that Hashem rest His Divine Presence upon us, that He accept our prayers with mercy, that catastrophe is not heard in our environs, that good and benevolence accompany us in our lives, and that He redeem us permanently, quickly.
Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America