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 […]

22 12, 2020

Calling Up a Kohen Married to a Divorcee to the Torah

December 22nd, 2020|Keriat HaTorah, Kohanim, Orach Chayim|


Northwest, USA

If there are a pair of brothers (Reuven and Shimon) who’s father is a kohen and Reuven decided to forego his kohen status to marry someone, is Reuven still called to the Torah as Reuven ben Ploni haKohen, or just Reuven ben Ploni? (Shimon is in the same kehillah and is called up as the kohen he identifies as).


First of all – there IS NO SUCH THING as giving up your kohen status. You can violate your kohen status, but you are still a sinning kohen, not a non-kohen. […]

5 10, 2020

Birkat Kohanim During the Pandemic

October 5th, 2020|Kohanim, Orach Chayim, Shema and Shemoneh Esrei, Simchat Torah, Tefillah|


Baltimore, MD

With no Kiddush being served in shul, strict masking rules, and shortened hakafot on Simchat Torah, what are your thoughts about duchaning on Simchat Torah? Is it now Minhag HaOlam to do it at Shacharit even if no concern of drunkenness or should we delay until Musaf like other chagim?


I think Shacharit still makes sense because not everyone will stay to the end even with things shortened, no? If you think they will, then yes, I’d go back to Musaf.

22 03, 2018

May Kohanim Become Doctors – Part 2

March 22nd, 2018|Kohanim, Science and Medical Ethics|

Two weeks ago we began to explore the question of whether kohanim may become doctors according to halakhah.   We noted that three halakhic arguments could be advanced to question the applicability of this prohibition to the case at hand: (1) Kohanim nowadays are only presumed (hazakha) to be kohanim and might only have the status of doubtful (safek) kohanim; (2) If we are all presumed to be tamei nowadays, then, according to Ra’avad, kohanim do not violate a Biblical prohibition by becoming tamei again by a corpse; (3) According to Yereim, it is not a violation for kohanim to […]

8 03, 2018

May a Kohen Become a Doctor?

March 8th, 2018|Kohanim, Science and Medical Ethics|

This Shabbat we read Parashat Parah to remind us of the preparations that were necessary to undergo in order to be able to bring the korban pesah.  While it is hard for us nowadays to relate to the laws of corpse-impurity detailed in the maftir section, there is one case where these details really matter.  It is the question of whether a kohen can become a doctor.

To become a doctor in the United States, medical students are required to perform a dissection on a human cadaver.  For a kohen who wishes to become a doctor, this can present a serious […]

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