Rosh Yeshiva Responds
Rabbi Linzer answers halakhic questions from rabbis and community members

8 04, 2021

When Does Aveilut Begin When the Body is Sent to Israel?

April 8th, 2021|Death and Dying, Yoreh De'ah|


Chicago, IL

A member of our shul died today. He is being flown to New York tomorrow (Friday) morning and will be flown to Israel after Shabbat and buried there next week.

His widow and two of his children are remaining in America. Does shivah begin for them tomorrow when the body leaves Chicago?

One son lives in Israel. He will attend the burial there and then join his family in America. Does he count shivah from burial in Israel or does he adopt his mother’s count once he joins her in Chicago?


My pesak here would be a little unconventional. I believe that if those

24 03, 2021

Performing Taharah on a Transgender Meit

March 24th, 2021|Death and Dying, LGBTQ, Yoreh De'ah|


New York, NY

I asked the Rosh Yeshiva this question on phone, but thought people might benefit. A chevrah kadisha wanting to be sensitive to transgender issues, who do they assign for the taharah of a transgendered meit?


My tentative answer – and this is really a policy question more than a halakhic one – is that we have to have a chevrah of the same gender as the meit‘s identity – to do otherwise would be a tremendous pegiah in kevod HaMeit and a tremendous delegitimization and erasure of the trans community and the identity of its members. The reason for

7 02, 2021

Aninut and Aveilut for Delayed Funeral

February 7th, 2021|Aveilut, Death and Dying, Yoreh De'ah|


Washington, D.C.

Someone died today. Due to issues with the cemetery, they cannot bury her for two weeks. Is her daughter an אונן until then? Can she start shivah early? She does plan to drive to the funeral.


So this is an interesting middle state where there is no aninut, but also no aveilut. No aveilut because the body isn’t buried and they have not been נתייאש מלקוברו, but also no aninut, since it is totally out of their hands and they can’t do anything about the burial or

31 01, 2021

Conducting Medical Tests on a Corpse After It Has Expired

January 31st, 2021|Death and Dying, Science and Medical Ethics, Yoreh De'ah|


New York, NY

A not yet למעשה question: New York State requires that when hospital patients die with COVID-19 or influenza as a cause of death, the hospital must provide documentation of a nasopharyngeal swab from within the previous 14 days. If no qualifying test took place and there isn’t a swab collected before the patient died that can have additional testing done, the clinical team is instructed to swab the מת. Am I remembering correctly that this presents a halakhic problem? Should the family prevent this if they are able?

20 12, 2020

Yerushah and Halakhic Wills

December 20th, 2020|Choshen Mishpat, Death and Dying|


Maryland, USA

Does one have to be worried about halakhic rules of yerushah (boys over girls, פי שנים for the בכור, etc.)? and therefore put all their money in a trust to go into effect a minute before death except a small amount to fulfill halakhic yerushah. Or, can this totally be ignored and fill out your will to have equal parts go to daughters and sons, etc?


Yes, you do need to worry about it. The Rishonim are explicit that dina demalkhuta does not apply

5 12, 2020

Aveil Joining Zoom Birthday Party

December 5th, 2020|Death and Dying, Yoreh De'ah|


Baltimore, MD

Rabbi Linzer, what are your thoughts on an aveil joining a Zoom gathering to celebrate a birthday? Would there be a difference if the gathering were limited to family vs. open to a broader audience? What about if there is an “agenda” that includes playing games over the Zoom?


I can’t see the problem once the aveil is after shivah. If the event is in his home, there is no problem (except if it is truly joyous) – see Rema (Shulchan Arukh YD 391:2),