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

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|


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!


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

5 05, 2023

Understanding One’s Personality through Zodiac Signs

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


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

23 04, 2023

Designing Text for a Catholic Shrine

April 23rd, 2023|Non-Jews and Other Religions, Yoreh De'ah|


Chicago, IL

A member of our community works in the museum industry. Her firm was hired by a local Catholic shrine to design the accompanying text that will be placed on the railings in the Shrine of St. Jude (a chapel/room in a larger church containing a statue of St. Jude and a relic of St. Jude (a piece of his arm).

The text she would be asked to write would not be about the history of the artwork or the architecture

28 03, 2023

Hosting an Intermarried Converting Couple for Yom Tov: Managing Bishul Akum and Kashrut

March 28th, 2023|Bishul Akum, Geirut and Geirim, Kashrut, Yoreh De'ah|


Minneapolis, MN

I’m working with two couples for giyur (conversion).

The first couple (couple #1) is close to finishing—they eat only kosher but have not yet kashered the house.

The second couple (couple #2) is intermarried (she is already Jewish and expecting a baby. The husband is patrilineal and committed to Orthodox giyur in the future.) They do not yet eat fully kosher. They also live very far from shul.

Couple #2 asked couple #1 to host them for Rosh HaShanah. Couple #1 asked me confidentially

15 02, 2023

Chatan with Non-Jewish Father and Other Descriptors in the Ketubah

February 15th, 2023|Even HaEzer, Geirut and Geirim, Kiddushin and Ketubah, Marriage and Family|


New York

I have a few questions regarding how to fill in the ketubah in an unusual situation.

1. The couple in question is already married with children. The bride is converting, so her name will be written in the ketubah as “Hadassah (her chosen name) bat Avraham V’Sara“. The groom is the son of a Jewish woman and non-Jewish man, in which case the RCA madrich

15 01, 2023

Refusing Delivery to Allow Delivery Driver to Keep Non-Kosher Wine

January 15th, 2023|Kashrut, Non-Jews and Other Religions, Yoreh De'ah|


Bottles of non-kosher wine are on their way to me as a holiday present. In the past, we have accepted them, dumped the contents and recycled the bottles since I understand that I can’t give them away. Assuming that’s correct, do we have any ability to not accept the shipment and allow the UPS driver to keep it? Is it too late if it is left on our doorstep?

As clarification, assume that I’m sefardi or following the Rema’s “tov l’hachmir” (good to be strict) position, as this was an unexpected gift from a business I use.

Thank you for

9 01, 2023

Using Antique Serving Dish with Image of Hindu Deity

January 9th, 2023|Non-Jews and Other Religions, Yoreh De'ah|


New York

A member of my community recently acquired an antique brass serving tray. After acquiring it, someone pointed out that the engraving appears to be a scene including a Hindu deity. Can he keep the tray? Can it be used for serving if it is covered?

Does this change at all if the actual tray in question has been used to place offerings on in the past? (It is 100 years old. At the time this would have been its use.)


If this is merely ornamental and not meant to be

11 04, 2021

Are There Limitations on an Uncircumsised Levi?

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


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?


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

11 04, 2021

A Playing Field Above a Former Jewish Cemetery

April 11th, 2021|Kohanim, Yoreh De'ah|


South Central, USA

A congregant who is a librarian has discovered that a big open field that is part of the library complex, which is often used for activities, was actually a Jewish cemetery until the mid-19th century, and there is no evidence of the bones there being disinterred or moved. He’s wondering if there are issues for him running activities/programs on that field (he’s not a kohen). Thanks!


This is a very complex question. Here are some of the relevant issues:

1. How does he know it was a Jewish cemetery? The field has a chezkat taharah, and

2 04, 2021

Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine on Shabbat

April 2nd, 2021|Choleh, Geirut and Geirim, Orach Chayim, Prohibitions|


Northwest, USA

If Shabbat is the earliest an immunocompromised congregant can receive their first dose, should I encourage them to sign up, or keep looking for an appointment not on Shabbat? They don’t drive and can arrange transportation beforehand.


In the case of someone immunocompromised, and assuming that they don’t have to sign anything, they can arrange for it on Shabbat, provided that they make sure that there are no דאורייתא concerns. Specifically, the internal light of the cab has to be taken care of and payment needs to be arranged before hand. They also shouldn’t carry anything if possible. If they