New Periodical: Hakirah vol. 7 (Winter 2009)

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A new issue of Hakirah has been published, vol. 7 Winter 2009:

  • Letters — great letters including a heated exchange between Prof. Marc Shapiro and Asher Benzion Buchman
  • On the Psak Concerning Israeli Conversion by R. Yehuda Henkin — In a brief responsum, R. Henkin (in my opinion) utterly demolishes the responsum invalidating R. Chaim Druckman by proving that R. Druckman relied on minority opinions, which undermines the entire responsum written against him.
  • Conversion to Judaism: Halakha, Hashkafa, and Historic Challenge by R. Marc Angel — R. Angel’s by now familiar approach. I have yet to be convinced that his minority approach will ever become mainstream because he simply doesn’t have the firepower of a living Gadol Ba-Torah (which I hope is not perceived as an insult to him).
  • Click here to read more

  • Hasidism and the Rebbe/Tzaddik: The Power and Peril of Charismatic Leadership by R. Elijah Judah Schochet — Documents what seem to me to be extreme and extremist views among early Chasidim about the idea of a rebbe.
  • Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s View of Secular Studies in the Thought of Rabbi Joseph Elias: Some Critical Observations by Baruch Pelta — A college student/blogger picks apart R. Elias’ revisionism regarding R. Samson Raphael Hirsch. Sadly, a subject that is easily proven. But performed ably by this budding scholar.
  • Was Rashi a Corporealist? by R. Natan Slifkin — No formal conclusion. The chiddush is how he points out that the standard proofs are insufficient and tries to turn some counterproofs around. In my opinion, he puts too much stock in assuming that Rashi was consistent (why does Rashi comment here and not there?). Maybe he wan’t consistent.
  • A Hagiographer’s Review of “Studies in Maimonides and His Interpreters” by Asher Benzion Buchman — A blisteringly hostile review of Prof. Marc Shapiro’s book (discussed here: link). Hidden among the many weak arguments are some very strong critiques. All in all, I think he makes a pretty good case.
  • A Statistical Analysis of Iggeros Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:35 by Sheldon Epstein and David Greenberger — An analysis of R. Moshe Feinstein’s responsum in which he says that there are verses which are really two verses combined together. In my opinion, the reading rejected in the Conclusion is correct and the entire essay is wrong.
  • “It is upon him to bring the proof”: A Note on Historiography, Printing, and the Power of Hearsay in a Position of Rabad by R. Yaakov Jaffe and David Shabtai — An historical study of the controversial leniency of the Ra’avad regarding a kohen becoming more impure nowadays.
  • Wrapping Ourselves Blindly by Shimi Berger and Shloimy Zelcer — Arguing that the most common way of initially wearing a tallis is incorrect and you should instead do it the way I was taught, so it doesn’t cover your eyes. I agree with the conclusion but think there are a few weak textual inferences here. I would add that doing it this way allows you to keep two tzitziyos in front and two in back.
  • The Order of Lighting the Hanukkah Candles: The Evolution of a Custom and the Influence of the Publication of the Shulhan Arukh by J. Jean Adler — An historical study of the practices of the order and placement of Chanukah candles.
  • Backward and Forward: An Unusual Feature of Kiddush Levanah by R. David S. Farkas — Argues that we repeat a verse backwards in kiddush levanah due to a misreading of a passage in Masekhes Soferim.
  • ‘Shalom Aleichem’ to Three People During Kiddush Levanah by R. Tzvi Ron — Points out that the practice used to be to say “Shalom Alekha” to one person three times but has changed to saying “Shalom Aleikhem” (plural due to influence of French and German grammar) to three people one time.
  • Hilkhos Birkas Ha-Gomel (Hebrew) by R. Shmuel Pinchas — A guide in contemporary style (concise laws with long footnotes) for the blessing of Gomel.
  • Gidro Shel Beis Din Le-Inyan Geirus by R. Eliezer Ben Porat — A responsum that disputes the ruling that disqualifies R. Chaim Druckman’s conversions. In my opinion, R. Henkin’s is more powerful.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student currently is serving his third term on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and also serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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