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

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|

QUESTION

Minneapolis, MN

Kvod HaRav, 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 and 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 […]

15 02, 2023

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

February 15th, 2023|Geirut and Geirim, Kiddushin and Ketubah, Marriage and Family, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION

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 advises to just use his mother’s name “Yaakov ben Temima”. Should the groom’s […]

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|

QUESTION
NEW YORK, NY

Dear Rabbi Linzer,
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 […]

9 01, 2023

Using Antique Serving Dish with Image of Hindu Deity

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

QUESTION

New York

K’vod HaRav, 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)

ANSWER

If this is merely ornamental […]

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 […]

11 04, 2021

A Playing Field Above a Former Jewish Cemetery

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

QUESTION

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!

ANSWER

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|

QUESTION

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.

ANSWER

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 […]

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 […]

13 02, 2021

Men and Women Counting for Minyan for HaRav et Riveinu

February 13th, 2021|Berakhot, Orach Chayim, Purim, Women|

QUESTION

Canada

Can women and men be counted together for a minyan for megillah reading for the purposes of saying הרב את ריבנו?

ANSWER

You mean would it be different than Rema (Shulchan Arukh OC 690:18) regarding the preferences for 10 where he writes – הגה: ויש להסתפק אם נשים מצטרפות לעשרה? Or are you asking whether we rule that way? I would say that the halakhot of berakhot and preference for 10 in general should definitely be the same. As to do we rule that way – one could argue ספק ברכות להקל, but also see Biur Halakha 692 ד״ה אלא בציבור who quotes shitot that you can make the berakhah even ביחיד. Given the […]