Musings

Is Yom Kippur Prayer Getting Better?

by R. Gil Student Dr. Haym Soloveitchik famously lamented the limited devotional nature of prayer today, particularly on Yom Kippur. Dr. Judith Bleich, however, begs to differ, providing a much more positive evaluation. Dr. Haym Soloveitchik in Rupture and Reconstruction (link): In 1959, I came to Israel before the High Holidays. Having grown up in Boston and never having had ...

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Spanning the Spectrum of Prayer

by R. Gil Student Aficionados of all kinds agree that the more you understand something, the more you appreciate it. The ability to distinguish between works of art or bottles of wine allows you to recognize their varying attributes and the hard work that went into making them. In an English translation of one of the books he wrote personally, ...

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Newspapers on Shabbos

by R. Gil Student I. Orthodox Newspapers The powerful industry of print media is crumbling under the weight of the internet but no one seems to have informed the Orthodox Jewish community, whose magazines and newspapers are flourishing. The reason is two-fold. General newspapers do not conform to the same standards as Orthodox Jews and often promote views or discuss ...

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Does Tashlikh Make Sense?

by R. Gil Student I. Fixing Judaism On the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, many have the custom of walking to a natural source of running water and reciting the Tashlikh prayers. The texts consist primarily of biblical passages, with many additional prayers added for the ambitious reciter. The name of the ceremony seems to come from ...

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The Disappearing Jewish Woman

by R. Gil Student Separate entrances. Sky-high mechitzos. Publications without pictures of women. Some people take the growing frequency of these and similar phenomena as a sign that women are disappearing from the Orthodox community. Obviously, this fear is overstated. Anyone walking the streets of Brooklyn will see that women still exist, in public, living and thriving. Setting aside the ...

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Physician Assisted Suicide and the Orthodox Healthcare Provider

by R. Micah Segelman In this paper I provide background on the legalization of physician assisted suicide, and analyze whether and to what extent the halacha precludes a healthcare provider from assisting a patient who seeks help in ending their own life. Physician Assisted Suicide in 21st Century America The legalization of physician assisted suicide (PAS) is an area of ...

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Thinking About God and Natural Disasters

Religious philosophy is replete with vibrant, sometimes desperate, reconciliations of divine justice and mortal experience. Explanations abound for why bad things happen to good people and good things to bad. But why bother? Why should so many great minds apply so much effort to this intractable problem? Put differently, since ultimately we must utilize faith somewhere in the answer, what ...

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Women and Shofar

by R. Gil Student On Rosh Hashanah, Jews throughout the world hear the shofar blown 100 times each of the two days (except on Shabbos). Hearing shofar is a time-bound positive mitzvah (mitzvas aseih she-ha-zeman gerama). Since, generally speaking, women are exempt from time-bound positive mitzvos, they are not required to hear shofar. However, over the centuries women have accepted ...

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Haunted House in Halakhah

by R. Gil Student In 1872, Rav Yosef Zechariah Stern (Zeikher Yehosef, Yoreh De’ah, vol. 2 no. 142),1 a prominent Lithuanian rabbi, was asked whether a house was cursed. After a house burned down, the gentile owner built a beautiful house in its place but died shortly after. A Jewish family bought the house but both the husband and wife ...

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