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

12 03, 2024

Mechitza Construction with Bima in Between the Men’s and Women’s Sections

March 12th, 2024|Keriat HaTorah, Mechitza, Minyan, Orach Chayim, Synagogue, Tefillah, Women|

QUESTION

Washington, DC

Question regarding the construction of a new mechitza:

We have a chapel that seats 115 people. It opens from the back, straight into the middle aisle. The seats are distributed equally on both sides of the aisle, and the bimah is at the front of the room in the center. Our old mechitza for the space was 3 panels; two down the middle aisle, and a third to angle around the bimah so that there was a physical separation between the shaliach

12 03, 2024

Having a Non-Jew Help Clean Up After a Communal Shabbat Meal

March 12th, 2024|Amirah LeGoy, Orach Chayim, Prohibitions, Shabbat|

QUESTION

France

Is it okay to have a non-Jew come at the end of a communal Shabbat meal to do any of the following?

  1. Unplug the hot plates
  2. Turn off the lights
  3. Take the trash out (in a yard that belongs to the whole building)

If the answer to any of the above is yes, which of the following is the best way to relay the message to the non-Jew?

a) Ask directly (though we don’t actually need to)

25 02, 2024

Handling a Tanach Translated by a Heretic

February 25th, 2024|Non-Jews and Other Religions, Sefer Torah, Tefillin, Mezuzah, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION

Canada

I recently found a copy of a Hebrew-English Tanach translated by Christian David Ginsburg in a local beit midrash. How should this be handled? Should it be disposed of? If so, how so? If it were to be of historical importance to someone, could it be sold to them?

ANSWER

The starting point of this discussion is the Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 6:8) who writes that one may not burn a Torah,

28 01, 2024

Conversion Candidate Using Public Transportation to Get to Preferred Shul

January 28th, 2024|Amirah LeGoy, Geirut and Geirim, Orach Chayim, Prohibitions, Shabbat, Shulchan Arukh, Synagogue, Tefillah|

QUESTION


Chicago, IL

A woman who converted to Judaism under Reform auspices and is married to a Jewish husband is interested in relocating to our neighborhood and will eventually undergo another giyur (conversion) under Orthodox auspices. She does not currently live in our neighborhood and knows that she will not be able to complete her conversion until she moves to the neighborhood. For various financial reasons, it could be as long as three years before she is able to relocate.

Until she relocates and converts,

28 01, 2024

Drilling Holes Through Verses Etched on a Mechitza

January 28th, 2024|Mechitza, Synagogue, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION


Skokie, IL

We are creating new glass mechitza panels with the text of Kabalat Shabbat etched into them. The engineers want to drill holes in a few panels to install handrails. Some of those proposed holes will be drilled through Shem Hashem (God’s name). Would this be a problem?

ANSWER

Yes, this would be a problem. There is an

28 01, 2024

Jewish Single Woman Considering Embryo Adoption: Halakhic Clarification on Child’s Jewish Status

January 28th, 2024|Birth, Even HaEzer, Family, Geirut and Geirim, Lifecycles, Non-Jews and Other Religions, Shulchan Arukh, Status, Women|

QUESTION


Washington, DC

A Jewish single woman considering embryo adoption wants to know if she needs to look for Jewish embryos, or if it will be sufficient for her to be the gestational mother to have the child be considered Jewish. My understanding is that there are differing opinions, and because so much is at stake I would like to be crystal clear on the halakha. Thank you so much.

ANSWER

This is such a major debate

1 12, 2023

Using “Water Wow!” Toy on Shabbat

December 1st, 2023|Orach Chayim, Prohibitions, Shabbat, Shulchan Arukh, Technology|

QUESTION

Canada

Would it be permissible to use the Water Wow! toy on Shabbat? Assuming that it is, at the very least, uvda d’chol, what are other issues are there?

Here’s a description of how it works:

The basic concept is that each page is “laminated” with a very thin sheet of paper – almost like tissue paper, but more durable. When the paper is moistened by the water in the pen, it becomes see-through and reveals the picture underneath. There’s no chemical reaction involved.

ANSWER

Had it been that the water was interacting with some chemical to create the color, it obviously would be

5 11, 2023

Reciting Berakhot on Reading Megillat Rut From a Klaf

November 5th, 2023|Chol Hamoed, Moadim, Orach Chayim, Pesach, Purim, Shavuot, Sukkot|

QUESTION

Maryland

We are reading Megillat Rut from a klaf for the first time this year. The Ba’al Koreh told me he would like to say the berakhot of mikrah megillah and shehechiyanu. I thought this was not widely practiced and I was wondering your guidance on the matter.

ANSWER

I am fine making the berakhot when read from a klaf. I think what is not widely practiced is to read it from a klaf. My sense is that the places that do so, do it with a brakha. (See Rema SA OH 390:9,

5 11, 2023

Reciting Shehechiyanu on Joyous Occasions Not Mentioned in Shulchan Aruch

November 5th, 2023|Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Berakhot, Kiddushin and Ketubah, Lifecycles, Orach Chayim, Sheva Berachot|

QUESTION

Toronto, Canada

What are your thoughts about saying shehechiyanu for occasions not mentioned in Shulchan Aruch? For example, can it be recited by parents at shul for the 3rd birthday of a child whose wimpel will be used for gelilah. What about other lifecycle events such as benei mitzvah, or weddings?

There’s certainly simchat ha’lev, which SA OH 223:4 says is the underlying basis for making the berakhah, but on the other hand, are we makpidim (particular) not to extend the berakhah into other experiences?

ANSWER

The first big question here is weddings. Why is