Lifecycles

11 04, 2021

Are There Limitations on an Uncircumsised Levi?

April 11th, 2021|Milah, Status, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION

Philadelphia, PA

A levi wasn’t circumcised because his parents are intactivists. Does the Rosh Yeshiva allow such a person to read from the Torah? Could they have the levi aliyah? Can they wash the kohen for birkat kohanim?

ANSWER

The basic pesak is that someone who does not have a brit milah, even if he is מומר לערלות, is only considered to be a mumar for one aveirah. He does not have a larger status of pasul.  See Shulchan Arukh YD 2:7. (The one exception might be whether he can be a mohel, see Rema in Shulchan Arukh YD 264:1.) There is a […]

8 04, 2021

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

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

QUESTION

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?

ANSWER

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|

QUESTION

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?

ANSWER

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 […]

14 03, 2021

Can a Geir Perform Hatafat Dam Berit On Himself?

March 14th, 2021|Geirut and Geirim, Milah, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION

Chicago, IL

Hopefully this is only a theoretical question. Can a geir perform hatafat dam berit on himself?

ANSWER

No. Since he is doing it, he is either definitely not yet a geir or it is a safeik whether he is yet a geir. Therefore, the hatafah does not work.

Regarding milah for a Jewish baby, the Shulchan Arukh (YD 264:1) says that the mohel has to be Jewish, but if he was not-Jewish the baby does not need a second milah. Some commentators understand that to mean that bedieved a non-Jew can be a mohel for a Jewish baby (See Taz there), but many […]

6 03, 2021

Ketubah in Hebrew

March 6th, 2021|Even HaEzer, Kiddushin and Ketubah|

QUESTION

Midwest, USA

Rabbi, a close friend is getting married soon and is interested in using a ketubah with modern Hebrew text (apparently this is starting to catch on in Israel). Is this permissible, and is there a Hebrew version out there you have seen that you feel is the most “authentic” or recommended? Thanks so much.

ANSWER

It is totally permissible. At the end of the day, this is a legal document, so any language, certainly Hebrew, is fine. It was originally in Aramaic because that was the vernacular.  As to a good text to use, I found two good examples […]

27 02, 2021

Mourner’s Kaddish Connecting to a Minyan over Zoom

February 27th, 2021|Aveilut, Kaddish, Orach Chayim|

QUESTION

Canada

What is the Rosh Yeshiva’s position on saying Kaddish Yatom over Zoom where there is a minyan on the other end?

ANSWER

The short answer is that it is fine if there are ten men gathered in one place. If there are ten men Zooming in from different places, it is more questionable, but there is a reasonable argument to say that this works as well. Let us consider the various issues:

  1. For a minyan, Gemara (Pesachim 85b) requires both a core ten, plus the shaliach tzibbur to be in the same physical room. This is ruled in Shulchan […]
7 02, 2021

Aninut and Aveilut for Delayed Funeral

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

QUESTION

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.

ANSWER

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|

QUESTION

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?

24 01, 2021

Biodegradable Burial Pods and Composting a Corpse

January 24th, 2021|Aveilut, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION

Westchester, NY

I’m curious about the Rosh HaYeshiva’s thoughts on two forms of non-burial:
Composting: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna1008606
Capsula Mundi: https://www.capsulamundi.it/en/
B”H this is not lema’aseh for me.

ANSWER

From a technical halakhic perspective, the burial pods seem fine. It’s biodegradable. I don’t know why it should be anything but a weird looking coffin. As to the composting, how is this done exactly? What is done with the body and how is it processed to turn into this compost in just 2 weeks? Without knowing any more details, I […]

10 01, 2021

Ketubah for Wedding in Rural Area

January 10th, 2021|Even HaEzer, Kiddushin and Ketubah|

QUESTION

Oakland, CA

I’m performing a wedding in a rural area. The mailing address and Google Maps lists the nearest city in the address, but it is outside the city limits in an unincorporated part of the county. What should be written on the ketubah?

ANSWER

In such a case, the practice is to write סמוך לעיר פלונית, so here- fill in פלונית with the city name in Google. This would be true even if it were under the jurisdiction of one city, but closer to another one, […]

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