March 4, 2020 / 2:46 PM / a month ago

Israeli chief rabbi curbs a Jewish tradition over coronavirus fears

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s chief rabbi has advised Jews to forego the traditional touching of the “mezuzah”, a decorative case containing a small holy scroll that is attached to many doorposts in the country.

In an advisory published in the Israeli media on Wednesday, the rabbi, David 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.

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.

Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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