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

12 07, 2024

Remedies for Pregnant Woman with Low Platelets Containing Brandy or Snake Venom

July 12th, 2024|Kashrut, Science and Medical Ethics, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION

Berkley, CA

A pregnant woman in her third trimester with low platelets has been recommended two remedies by her midwife. The first remedy (https://www.taprootmedicine.org/shop/p/strongwomansyrup) contains brandy.

The second remedy is a homeopathic product that may contain snake venom. The midwife believes that if it contains any actual snake substance, it would be in a very small amount due to the nature of homeopathy.

Can she take either of these remedies?

ANSWER

Even before considering the fact that this woman is a choleh (a person who is ill), there are good reasons to permit either of these concoctions.

Regarding the remedy containing brandy:
Brandy is fermented wine, so

27 06, 2024

Referring to Someone Named “Adonai” by Name

June 27th, 2024|Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION


Oakland, California

I met someone whose name is Adonai. Can I refer to him by name?

ANSWER

Calling him by name would be prohibited. Besides for the concern of using God’s name in vain, I would find calling someone by this name a deeply problematic theological act.

I think that the best thing to do is to explain to him why this is a problem for you, and ask him if he has a preferred nickname/shortened name that you could use.

If this

23 06, 2024

Having a non-Jew help after a communal Shabbat meal

June 23rd, 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)
b) Make a not-so-subtle allusion to the fact

2 06, 2024

Megillah Reading By Microphone

June 2nd, 2024|Disabilities, Electricity, Moadim, Orach Chayim, Purim, Shulchan Arukh, Synagogue, Technology|

QUESTION

Canada

At the school where I work, the Megillah reading will be conducted with a microphone, as it always has been. I am unable to change this practice, at least for this year.

What is the Rosh Yeshiva’s position on reading the Megillah with a microphone? Can one rely on the poskim who permit it?

For those attending a Megillah reading with a microphone, should they seek out another reading later not read with a microphone? Alternatively, can those standing close to the reader assume

2 06, 2024

Taking Tums on Shabbat

June 2nd, 2024|Choleh, Orach Chayim, Shabbat, Shulchan Arukh|

QUESTION


NY, New York

May one with mild heartburn/acid reflux take Tums on Shabbat? Are tums considered ma’akhal beri’im or refuah on Shabbat?

ANSWER

By way of introduction, Chazal established a prohibition (gazeirah) against taking medication on Shabbat because of the concern that people might grind their own medication, which was a common preparation method at the time (Shabbat 53b, Rashi s.v. gazerah). This led to the general

26 05, 2024

Warming Up Food on Yom Tov

May 26th, 2024|Bishul, Moadim, Orach Chayim, Pesach, Yom Tov|

QUESTION

Minneapolis, MN

K’vod HaRav, I’m hoping to host the second seder in shul. Our shul ovens turn off after 12 hours automatically and there is no override function. From a culinary standpoint, the best food-warming option would be to hire a non-Jewish person to (privately) turn on the ovens. Is that an acceptable approach?

The other option is for the shul to invest in some platas (hot plates) and timers, but I have found those to be very unpredictable and uneven as far as food warming goes and this seder is potentially feeding

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)