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

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

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

3 11, 2023

Shaving for an Important Business Meeting Before the End of Sheloshim

November 3rd, 2023|Aveilut, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

A man currently in aveilut (mourning) for his mother has a critical meeting with a potential buyer for his company. His meeting is set to take place six days prior to the end of sheloshim; however, Shavuot falls out before the meeting date.

According to Yoreh De’ah 399:4 – does Shavuot effectively end the sheloshim period, permitting shaving, or does it not suspend sheloshim, requiring him to refrain from shaving, until someone reprimands him for his unkempt appearance (עד שיגער בו חביריו)?

ANSWER

31 05, 2023

Conversion Certificate for a Child Born Through Surrogacy

May 31st, 2023|Clothing and Appearance, Even HaEzer, Family, Fertility, Geirut and Geirim, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION

Providence, RI

A couple who could not have children naturally had kids by means of a surrogate (not sure whose sperm or egg or if that’s relevant). They’re having a giyur (conversion) for the kid and have requested to use their names, and not Avraham/Sara on the teudat giyur (conversion certificate). Do you have thoughts/an opinion about this? Thank you in advance!

ANSWER

If it were both the husband’s sperm and the wife’s egg then you definitely can, because many authorities say that maternity is defined by whose egg it was (for example, Rabbi Shlomo Goren (Torat HaRefuah, pg. 176-177), Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

29 05, 2023

Guidance for Sleeping Arrangements for a Chuppat Niddah

May 29th, 2023|Even HaEzer, Kiddushin and Ketubah, Marriage and Family, Niddah, Yichud, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION

What do you advise regarding reasonable sleeping arrangements in the case of chuppat niddah (where halakha requires that one observe the laws of yichud)? This will be relevant for our upcoming wedding.

ANSWER

Mazal Tov on the upcoming wedding. Regarding sleeping arrangements—I take the position that even if the two of you are sharing an apartment, it is not yichud if you are in separate rooms with a closed door between you (some require that the woman’s door be locked. I do not require this). (See Chazon Ish Even HaEzer 34:1)

Therefore, what I advise is that until bedtime, when both of

21 05, 2023

Buying A Non-Kosher Gift Card for a Non-Religious Parent

May 21st, 2023|Kibbud Av Ve'Eim, Yoreh De'ah|

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Amazon_Gift_Cards.jpg

QUESTION

Detroit, Michigan

A ba’al teshuva’s father has asked for a gift card to a non-kosher restaurant for a Father’s Day present so that he can enjoy a nice meal out. The father is not interested in a kosher restaurant (and would likely be somewhat disappointed to receive one).

Is it permissible to buy a gift card for a non-kosher restaurant if the restaurant also has drinks and possibly less problematic food such as green salads? Can the son or daughter rely on a false assumption that the father might just get

5 05, 2023

Understanding One’s Personality through Zodiac Signs

May 5th, 2023|Non-Jews and Other Religions, Yoreh De'ah|

https://pixabay.com/photos/astrology-star-sign-horoscope-2792352/

QUESTION

New York

I was informed by someone that there are ways to understand one’s personality based on the zodiac signs. This involves looking at not only the astrological sign, but also the time and location of birth, as well as the position of the moon, stars, and planets. I don’t actually believe in this, but I am curious to explore it with my student who does very much believe in this.

I’m concerned about any kind of divination issurim. From my understanding, you could stop before you get to predicting the