If the government or a physician has decided that an individual must remain in isolation over the course of Yom Tov and this individual has a psychological condition where physicians who know this patient have determined that there is a possibility that this person being alone over the course of Yom Tov would be in a situation of pikuach nefesh (possible suicide) if the individual was not able to communicate or speak with family members, then the family members must reach out to this person over Yom Tov to speak on the phone or use the internet by leaving a connection open from before Yom Tov. Rav Moshe Feinstein has decided that, in certain circumstances, psychological danger is considered life threatening. Rabbi Soloveitchik went further and noted, in the name of his grandfather Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, that even if there is a concern that someone will lose his or her mind even if their life is not in danger, that too is considered a case of Pikuach Nefashos.

If a person is physically ill and alone and the physicians have determined that there is a possibility of the condition deteriorating further to a point of being life threatening, then the family must remain in contact using electronic devices with that person over the course of Yom Tov in order to check on the person’s well being.

If a parent who is ill lives outside of Israel and the parent has a non-Jewish aid then the children who live in Israel are allowed to call the non-Jew and speak with the non-Jew when it is Yom Tov outside of Israel and not Yom Tov in Israel in order to check in on the parent. Those family members in Israel can also ask the non-Jew to show the parent a live screen of the family so that the patient can see that his family members are safe and healthy. It is also proper to tell the non-Jewish aid in America that if the patient is upset or concerned over Yom Tov and the patient would like to speak to family members, then the non-Jew should remind the patient that it is Passover or the Sabbath and that after the Sabbath and holiday is over they will certainly be able to speak on the phone.

However, if someone is not as ill as described above, however they must be confined and alone because of the circumstances related to the Coronavirus then they may not use any electronic devices in order to connect to family members on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Although it is painful and sad to be alone and people want to be with family and friends, this is not a sakanas nefashos, a life threatening situation, and there is no place at all to allow the violation of Shabbos and Yom Tov.

If a person were to leave the phone on before before Yom Tov and conduct a Pesach Seder from their home so that others can follow along (like Baalei Teshuvah who may not know how to run a Seder) there may be reason to be lenient under great and pressing circumstances. However, to leave a computer screen on and to have people watch and connect over the internet is a greater concern of violating Shabbos and Yom Tov since it creates images and pictures when the people move. Another possible suggestion for those who are unfamiliar with the Pesach Seder is to create videos of how to run a Pesach Seder and in the weeks leading up to Pesach people can watch and learn from this video in order to know what to do when Pesach arrives. However, the video may not be played over Shabbos and Yom Tov. If the individual in need of help is handycapped and these preparations from before Yom Tov are not sufficient then they should rely on listening to the live Seder over the phone.

If the government and medical professionals have said that it is not safe for parents and children to be together then children may not visit for Pesach, even at the insistence of the parents. Not listening to the parents in this situation is not a violation of Kibbud Av V’Em.

[March 25]

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