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Teshuvot -- Jewish legal opinions

Teshuvah (plural teshuvot) means "response."  Traditionally, the way Jewish law is formulated is that someone asks a question, and a rabbi prepares a teshuvah, a response.  Below you will find teshuvot that Rabbi Leff has written, as well as links to teshuvot written by other rabbis and to other sources in Jewish law.  These opinions are Rabbi Leff's only, they have not been voted on by the Conservative Movement's Law Committee, and hence do not qualify as "official" positions of the Conservative Movement.

Rabbi Leff's Teshuvot:
Click on a question to see the full response.

Question:  Is it permissible to eat hot dairy meals in restaurants lacking rabbinic supervision?
A very high percentage of observant Conservative Jews, many Conservative rabbis among them, eat hot dairy meals in unsupervised restaurants.  Are they violating halakhah (Jewish law)?

Question: To what extent does an employee have an obligation to report wrongdoing on the part of his or her employer?
A rabbi was asked about the following specific situation: an executive of a company (a vice president, but not a corporate officer) knows that his employer is failing to pay a technology licensing fee for the use of a patented technology.  What are his responsibilities relative to rebuking his superior and informing others, such as his own company’s board of directors, or the management of the company whose technology is being infringed? Is there a responsibility to report the wrongdoing to law enforcement? In this particular case, neither the employer nor the company whose technology is being infringed is Jewish, and the company is headquartered in California. The CEO of the company failing to pay the royalty has said they will pay the fee when the company they owe it to comes after them for it. The two companies do not have a contractual relationship. The company infringing the technology received the technology from another source.

Question: Is it permitted to hold a Purimshpiel in the middle of the Megillah reading?
The reading of the “whole Megillah” is a rather lengthy process, and it can be difficult for children to sit through the whole thing. Furthermore, when Purim is on a school night, some families may want to come for the Purimshpiel and still get their children home at a reasonable time. Is it permitted to start the Megillah reading, perform the Purimshpiel in the middle of the Megillah reading, and then finish the Megillah reading afterwards to accommodate those for whom this is an issue?

Question:  Is it permissible to recite Maariv (the evening prayers) before plag haminchah (one and a quarter halachic hours before sunset) on Friday night? 
In communities where in the summer months sunset comes well after 9pm , even the customary “early” time to recite Maariv, plag haminchah, will be after 7:30pm .  This can be a burden for people who want to follow the traditional practice of reciting their prayers before eating the Sabbath meal, but who have children or others who would have a hard time waiting until after 8:30pm to eat dinner.  On those occasions, is it possible to recite Maariv earlier than plag haminchah?

Question:  May a convert choose to use a name other than Ploni ben/bat Avraham Avinu v’Sarah Imanu? 
Especially today, when it is the custom in many congregations to call people to the Torah by both the father and mother’s name, calling someone to the Torah as Ploni ben/bat Avraham v’Sarah gives the appearance of announcing the person’s status as a convert.  Many converts prefer not to be reminded of their status in such a public fashion.  Also, with no disrespect towards Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imanu, some converts may find that they relate more strongly to other Jewish figures of the past.

Teshuvot from other rabbis:

Click here for Rabbi Stuart Kelman's teshuvah on gays and lesbians.  The teshuvah addresses the below questions:

I. May same-sex couples have an aliyah together when a joint aliyah makes sense, for example, at a baby naming, the adoption of a child, or a bar or bat mitzvah? (Our policy has been to allow joint aliyot on certain occasions, giving them, for example, to parents or grandparents of a bar/bat mitzvah but not to uncles and aunts.)
II. May a gay or lesbian couple have an aliyah on the Shabbat preceding their commitment ceremony?
III. May commitment ceremonies be performed in our congregation?
The central issue is not about accepting gays and lesbians, but of sanctifying their relationships.
Click here for Rabbi Roy Tanenbaum's "Kosher Korner" with responses to over 100 questions about kashut.

Click here for Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl's article on "Organ Donation and Jewish Law."  "The case of organ donation is an example of the way Jewish law argues using terminology and concepts which are specific to a particular religious tradition. At the same time, this approach provides a model for others seeking a structured way to examine questions of moral import."

Click here for Rabbi Roy Tanenbaum's teshuvah on gambling and summer camp.
Question: A certain camp practices Orthodox ritual by day and gambling by night. Is it permissible to send a teen to such a camp?


Other resources on Halacha (Jewish Law)

Recent teshuvot that have been approved by the Conservative Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards can be found at   http://rabbinicalassembly.org/law/teshuvot_public.html

Teshuvot approved by the Conservative Movement's Vaad Halakhah in Israel can be found online at  http://www.responsafortoday.com/eng_index.html

The Jewish Law web site presents a wealth of halachic information primarily from an Orthodox perspective.  Their web site is http://www.jlaw.com/

The Reform movement also publishes teshuvot on line.  Their approach to halakhah is very different than the Conservative movement's.  Someone who considers himself a Conservative or Orthodox Jew should not rely on one of their teshuvot without checking with his rabbi first, but the teshuvot can still be interesting to study.  Teshuvot approved by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform) can be found at   http://data.ccarnet.org/resp/tindex.html