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Rabbi Akiva Dershowitz

Number of Entries : 515

Ivf and gender selection

Question:Would there be any halachic/ethical issues with one who is performing IVF due to infertility to request a specific gender?I’ve heard that R SZ Auerbach thought it to be unethical for a couple to undergo IVF specifically to have a specific gender, however what would be with one who is anyway undergoing IVF?(We currently have 2 girls BH and would like to be mekayem Pru Urvu.) Answer: While it would n ...

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Self Sacrifice – יהרג ואל יעבור

Question: I understand that one must- under specific circumstances- give his/her own life rather then transgress.Is this only in a case where one has an ultimatum do or die (get killed)? what if one is faced with the option do or kill yourself? Answer: One must give up their life rather than transgress the sins of idol worship, adultery [and various other forbidden relations] and murder. Taking one's own li ...

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Entering reform temple

Question: My wife's family from the USA are planning a Bat Mitzvah for their oldest daughter in Israel. They have rented the premises at Beit Shmuel which is the world headquarters for Reform . The family is observant - i.e. American modern chareidim. The kashrus could be reliable because they have external supervision. So the question is not about kashrus. The question is: are we allowed to go to such a pl ...

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Emunah and mistaken beleifs

Question:Shalom k’vod harav. How should we relate to someone with the following beliefs?: a) The mabul was a local flood, and did not extend outside of a limited area in the Middle Eastb) The “shishim ribo” the Torah refers to at yetzias mitzrayim is a metaphorical number and the actual number of those who left Egypt was far smaller. Can this person serve as a witness? Is his wine yayin nesech? Answer: A pe ...

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Question: Is one obligated to give tzedakah if he cannot afford to pay tuition? If one cannot afford to tuition is it like a debt, meaning if he won the lottery he would be require to pay now on? If one cannot afford tuition would he be allowed to take his family on vacation, if most people would consider that excess? Please provide any sources possible. Thank you. Answer: Even one who is struggling financi ...

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Bracha on a Gift – Megillas Ester

Question: My mother-in-law is giving me a gift of a beautiful Megillas Esther. Should I make the bracha of Shehechyanu since I have no plans to lain it in public and, so, no one else but i will have hana'ah from it? Or should I say Hatov v'Hameitiv, since she will have hana'ah from giving it to me? Answer: In fact it is questionable if a bracha should be made at all. The Magen Avraham 223:5 rules that upon ...

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Kabbolas Taanis Yochid

Question: There is an obligation to be mekabel taanis yochid before shkia of the fast day 1. Is it meakev? In other words if one wished to fast that particular day (eg Shovevim or as a Teshuvah etc.) but forgot to be mekabel the taanis - should he still fast or does he need to postpone it? Is there any point saying it after nacht? 2. Whilst virtually all the Siddurim print (and printed) the nusach of "Bli n ...

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Hand Transplant

Question: A right handed individual with an amputated left hand (but intact forearm and biceps) has been wearing his tefilin over the left side without a bracha as per the Rema in OH 27.1. If he undergoes a left hand transplant would he go back to making a bracha? If he is a Cohen can he go back to doing nesiat kapyim? Many thanks Answer: Yes, once a limb or organ is attached or implanted into a person's bo ...

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Ashkenazi shatz in a sfardi kahal

Question: לכבוד מורינו הרב שליט"א Minha is organized everyday, even though it is not קבוע, meaning that people just happen to be near the beis knesset and they organize a minyan. Infortunatly, there is no halachic authority in the beis knesset. However, the majority of the usual kahal is sfardi. I am ashkenazi and I am often asked to be the shaliach tzibur. But when the kdusha starts, the tzibur starts sing ...

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High Speed Rail Link to Ben Gurion

Question: Israel Railways has recently opened a high speed link from Jerusalem, currently to Ben-Gurion airport. The chillul shabbos involved in building this line is well documented and, as for as I understand, beyond doubt. I'd like to know if this creates any halachic problems with using this line. Thanks for your time Answer: see here : // ...

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