New Weekly Halakhic Responsa Coming Out by Rabbi Dov Linzer
This past month has seen a new initiative from a Modern Orthodox rabbinical school to deal with contemporary halakhic issues. Dealing with questions coming in from its graduates, the Rosh HaYeshivah of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Rabbi Dov Linzer, has been publishing weekly responsa to help guide them and the Modern Orthodox community, writ large. Rabbi Linzer “will be writing a weekly teshuva on sheilot that I receive from our rabbis in the field”, he wrote. “Last year, we launched the Lindenbaum Center for Halakhic Studies at YCT, whose goal is to enrich the community’s halakhic discourse and to teach a sophisticated Modern Orthodox halakha that is relevant, honest, and comprehensive.”
The five responsa thus far published, have been answered by Rabbi Linzer in 3-6-page treatments available in PDF format, which are indexed alongside other teshuvot from the Lindenbaum Center for Halakhic Studies at YCT. Here is a listing of them:
- Nov. 17 – Yihud in a shul
- Nov. 24 – Picking lock on Shabbat
- Nov. 30 – Public displays of affection
- Dec. 7 – Roast marinated in possibly unkosher wine
- Dec. 21 – Buying Non-Kosher Food for a Non-Jew
The responsa utilize in-text citations allow for easier reference than would footnotes for the primary material. Although Rabbi Linzer then utilizes an endnote apparatus in the second and a footnote apparatus in the third, fourth and fifth responsa to supplement his discussions. As to materials referenced, his first responsum primarily relies on the Shulhan Arukh and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. His second one uses a mix of rabbinic literature, medieval commentaries, Shulhan Arukh and commentaries, and 20th century rabbinic responsa. The third uses 20th century rabbinic responsa, Shulhan Arukh and commentaries, and others. The fourth heavily relies on Shulhan Arukh and commentaries, as does the fifth, along with a mix of references to rabbinic literature.
Coming in at only 3-6 pages, the responsa seem to be designed for a broader audience to read, as opposed to his other two responsa he has written for the Lindenbaum Center in September and October. While his May One Take Down a Sukkah on Chol HaMoed in Anticipation of Hurricane Joaquin? is also only five pages long, his May a Woman Lead Selichot? is more than a dozen pages long (and is also designed in a different, and significantly nicer, way than the others). His responsum on public displays of affection is the longest, coming in at six pages, and is a fascinating read, taking into consideration both social considerations and a closer look at certain halakhic texts.
Providing a broader context to this new project, Rabbi Ysoscher Katz wrote:
YCT believes that a vigorous engagement with halakha is essential for the religious well-being of our community. That is why we established The Lindenbaum Center for Halakhic Studies.
The goal of the Center, founded through a generous grant from Belda a”h and Marcel Lindenbaum, is to enrich the community’s halakhic discourse and to teach and disseminate a sophisticated Modern Orthodox halakha that is relevant, honest, and comprehensive.
The Center will feature a short teshuva (responsa) by the Norman and Tova Bulow Rosh HaYeshiva Chair Rabbi Dov Linzer, in which he will address a variety of contemporary halakhic issues.
Rabbi Katz concludes, “Answering your halakhic questions is an essential feature of this project.”
It should be enjoyable to follow along the new responsa coming out for 2016 in Rabbi Linzer’s continuing discussions of halakhah in the contemporary world. Stay tuned.