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

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

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

24 01, 2021

Lo Techaneim and Supporting Non-Jews in Need

January 24th, 2021|Interpersonal Ethics, Non-Jews and Other Religions, Yoreh De'ah|


New York, NY

Is there a concern of lo techaneim (in the sense of giving free gifts to non-Jews) in supporting campaigns to help non-Jewish victims of terrible injustice (such as the Uyghars)?


Definitely not. I think first we have to make it clear that when it comes to the issur of giving praise or gifts (Avodah Zarah 20a), then as far as I am concerned, we need to totally embrace the position that this only applies to ovdei avodah zarah (Sefer HaChinukh 426, Rashba Teshuvah 1:8, Yabia Omer YD 10:41; Rav Kook

29 12, 2020

Use of Wine-grown Yeast in Green Coffee Bean Fermentation

December 29th, 2020|Kashrut, Non-Jews and Other Religions, Yoreh De'ah|


Chicago, IL

Green coffee beans are often fermented before being rinsed, dried, and roasted. Fermentation allows naturally occurring bacteria and yeast to break down some of the sugars on the outside layer of the coffee bean, enhancing the flavor of the bean. Sometimes a foreign yeast is added to help the process along or bring out specific flavor profiles. A certain locally produced roast uses red wine yeast (fed on non-kosher red wine) to assist fermentation. Does this constitute a kashrut issue?


This is a great

22 12, 2020

Assisting in Solstice Ritual

December 22nd, 2020|Non-Jews and Other Religions, Yoreh De'ah|


Detroit, MI

A non Jewish family member asks for some paper and matches from you so they can do a “solstice ritual” (which likely includes prayers to Mother Earth and the like). Are you allowed to give them the paper and matches?


The Gemara is clear that lifnei iveir applies to a non-Jew regarding his sheva mitzvot, of which avodah zarah is on the top of the list (Avodah Zarah 6a). However, that is limited to תרי עברי דנהר – when the non-Jew cannot get it

20 12, 2020

Bishul Akum with a Boarder

December 20th, 2020|Kashrut, Non-Jews and Other Religions, Yoreh De'ah|


Riverdale, NY

A frum family has a non-Jewish young adult (post-college) who lives with them and participates in family life (more than a boarder). How do we think about בישול עכו״ם for them from things he cooks?


That’s a tough one, because there aren’t even the kulot of when it is of a commercial nature, etc. I’m not sure what I could advise other than – in special circumstances – NB: NOT saying this as regular pesak – we could adopt a very broad category of

12 12, 2020

Assisting Non-Jew in Performing a Mitzvah

December 12th, 2020|Chanukah, Non-Jews and Other Religions, Yoreh De'ah|



Are there any halakhic issues with aiding a non-Jew in performing a mitzvah?

Someone who is not halakhically Jewish (father is Jewish), but identifies very much as Jewish, has asked for me to bring her Chanukah candles. Would there be an issues in giving her the candles, over which she will make a berakhah?


According to Rambam, if a non-Jew does a mitzvah s/he gets skhar as an אינו מצווה ועושה. Provided that this is not their own religion but they are doing it in

5 12, 2020

Lying to Children about Tooth Fairy

December 5th, 2020|Choshen Mishpat, Interpersonal Ethics, Non-Jews and Other Religions|


Midwest, USA

My daughter just lost her first tooth and I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on telling kids about the Tooth Fairy and whether it’s harmless or if it borders of issues of chukat HaGoyim or Geneivat Da’at.


Interesting… I don’t think it is chukat HaGoyim, unless you think that we have to stop reading stories of Peter Pan and Pinocchio, etc. I guess this is somewhat worse because you are telling her that it is a real thing. I am having a hard