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

5 11, 2023

Reciting Shehechiyanu on Joyous Occasions Not Mentioned in Shulchan Aruch

November 5th, 2023|Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Berakhot, Kiddushin and Ketubah, Lifecycles, Orach Chayim, Sheva Berachot|

QUESTION

Toronto, Canada

What are your thoughts about saying shehechiyanu for occasions not mentioned in Shulchan Aruch? For example, can it be recited by parents at shul for the 3rd birthday of a child whose wimpel will be used for gelilah. What about other lifecycle events such as benei mitzvah, or weddings?

There’s certainly simchat ha’lev, which SA OH 223:4 says is the underlying basis for making the berakhah, but on the other hand, are we makpidim (particular) not to extend the berakhah into other experiences?

ANSWER

The first big question here is weddings. Why is

2 05, 2023

Splitting a Berakha

May 2nd, 2023|Berakhot, Family, Marriage and Family, Tefillah|

https://pixabay.com/photos/head-brain-thoughts-human-body-1965669/

QUESTION

Rhode Island

A couple would like two different people to be involved in saying the Hebrew words of the final Sheva Berakhot, for family / political / musical reasons. Is it permissible that one begins the berakha and one ends, OR (more likely I imagine) that both say it together?

ANSWER

This is addressed by a teshuva of Rebbe Akiva Eiger. In שו”ת רבי עקיבא איגר מהדורא קמא ס’ ז’ he deals with the question of how a woman who does not understand Hebrew (which was common) can fulfill the mitzvah of Kiddush through שומע

13 01, 2023

Public Hanukkah Candle-lightings

January 13th, 2023|Berakhot, Candle lighting, Chanukah, Moadim, Orach Chayim|

QUESTION

CHICAGO, IL

What is the most appropriate way to handle public Hanukkah candle-lighting, that is not in a shul, and that does not fulfill anyone’s obligation? Should we participate in Chabad public lightings? Should we have lightings at a shul Hanukkah party?

ANSWER

I agree with the assumption of your question—that the practice to light in shul with a berakha is itself a chiddush, and ein lecha bo ela chidusho (i.e. the ruling here cannot be extended to other cases) (not to mention that it might also have greater weight because it is dumya d’beit HaMikdash—analogized to the Beit HaMikdash). Thus, a public Chabad

12 07, 2021

Saying The Bedtime Shema If Going to Sleep in The Morning

July 12th, 2021|Berakhot, Orach Chayim, Shema and Shemoneh Esrei|

QUESTION

Midwest, USA

Shalom Rav, I have a congregant who is taking on a night job where he will work all night, arrive home after sunrise and then go to bed. Since his now kavua “bedtime” is in the morning he asked if he could still say the bedtime Shema. The Biur Halakha on Shulchan Arukh OC 239:1 seems to clearly say one should not, at least not the berakhah, and the Arukh HaShulchan mentions that the point of the Shema al HaMitah is to protect from demons, which would only be a night problem. Does the fact that his bedtime is officially during the day

18 06, 2021

Birkat Eirusin When the Bride or Groom Cannot Drink Wine

June 18th, 2021|Berakhot, Even HaEzer, Kiddushin and Ketubah, Orach Chayim|

QUESTION

South Central, USA

I’m officiating at a wedding, and the kallah said she can’t drink wine or grape juice. The only liquids she can drink are water or tea. What would you recommend they say the berakhot over at the wedding? Thank you.

ANSWER

A couple of possibilities:

1. The chatan can drink without the kallah doing so.

2. You don’t need wine really – Shulchan Arukh EH 62:1 ואם אין יין מצוי מברך על השכר.

3. Bedieved you don’t need a kos at all. See Beit Shmuel there who writes ואם אין שכר מצוי יברך בלא כוס.

I think if you don’t want to do #1, she should do tea, which

13 06, 2021

May an Aveil Purchase a New Car? Can someone do so during the 3 weeks?

June 13th, 2021|Aveilut, Berakhot, Orach Chayim, Tisha B'Av - 3 Weeks, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION

Chicago, IL

A man in aveilut needs a new car. The old car the family has used is breaking down more and more frequently. Is this something that should wait another 10-12 months? What if his wife purchased the car and recites שהחינו? Would the halakha be the same during the 3 weeks?

ANSWER

The practice of not saying shehecheyanu is recorded in the case of the 3 weeks (Shulchan Arukh OC 551:17). Poskim explicitly state that this does not apply to a mourner. See Magen Avraham OC 551:42 and Mishnah Berurah 551:98. The reason is that the problem with shehecheyanu is not the simchah per se,

1 06, 2021

Is There a Time Limit to Say Birkat HaGomeil?

June 1st, 2021|Berakhot, Orach Chayim|

QUESTION

Washington, D.C.

Regarding Birkat HaGomeil, the Shulchan Arukh (OC 219:6) suggests you can still say the berakhah after three days have passed. Arukh HaShulchan seems to suggest that someone can say the berakhah after three days as long as they haven’t forgotten the incident. A congregant heard me give over this halakha and asked if he could make the berakhah 50 years later! He still remembers the event clearly as it was very traumatic. Is this an appropriate interpretation of the Shulchan Aruch and Arukh HaShulchan or is it taking things too far? Thank you.

ANSWER

The simple language of the Shulchan Arukh is indeed that there is no time limit. Arukh HaShulchan’s

7 05, 2021

Tefilah and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

May 7th, 2021|Berakhot, Disabilities, Orach Chayim, Shema and Shemoneh Esrei|

QUESTION

Washington, D.C.

The following is a personal and complicated question, and I totally understand if you don’t have time to answer it, but I thought I’d give it a shot:

I have been diagnosed with OCD for a few years, and one of the ways that manifests itself for me is that, on a daily basis, I doubt whether I have said parts of davening correctly (especially Shema where wrong pronunciation prevents fulfilment of the mitzvah, as far as I know), and repeat myself several times, or at least have a really strong urge to repeat myself.

I’m wondering if you think that

20 04, 2021

Does Someone Who Becomes Bar Mitzvah During Sefirat HaOmer Count With a Berakhah?

April 20th, 2021|Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Berakhot, Orach Chayim, Sefirah|

QUESTION

Baltimore, MD

Assuming counting the omer is one mitzvah for the entire period, if you turn 13 in the middle of the counting, are you allowed to say the blessing since there was no obligation to count prior to turning 13? What if you know ahead of time that you will miss a day of counting in the future (could be because you are flying across the world which will make you miss a day), should you be saying the blessings prior to missing a day knowing you will not perform the mitzvah in its entirety?

ANSWER

If you think about it, it comes

11 04, 2021

Halakhic Status of Bread Made With Both Wheat and Almond Flour

April 11th, 2021|Berakhot, Orach Chayim, Pesach, Yoreh De'ah|

QUESTION

Washington, D.C.

A bread made with mostly rice flour but some wheat flour would be HaMotzi if you could taste the wheat. What about if instead it were made with almond flour? Would the same taste rule apply or would you need rov?

ANSWER

A very relevant question for those who are gluten intolerant. So how do they make HaMotzi or eat matzah? One answer is to use oats, which is one of the 5 species of grain. However, from what I have heard, it is very hard to eat bread that is completely made out of oats. (Also, from an academic perspective, it is questionable if oats