Announcements #171: Expert Firearms Instruction

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Expert Firearms Instruction

NRA certified Firearms Instructor offering firearms instruction; NRA and non-NRA courses. Groups, individuals or 1-on-1. Women only classes available. Pistol, Rifle and Shotgun, Home or Business protection, weapon & ammunition choice & more.

Contact Joseph Izrael 845.356.5018 [email protected]

(Announce your simchah or Torah lectures by clicking on the button in the top right corner of Hirhurim. See here for readership statistics and here for instructions on buying an announcement. Please note that announcements now cost $36 each.)

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief 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 serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also 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.


  1. What’s up with this announcement?

  2. Legitimate advertisement

  3. Doesn’t sound like a Torah lecture. Maybe a Simcha?

  4. This ad is for the next person who writes a Torah-Science book that raises the ire of the Yerushalayim Kanoyim. .

  5. Is this a joke? If it is for real then someone should tell them that firearms are used much more in suicides and in- the family homicides than for self protection. When we lived in the Golan Heights we had no choice but to keep firearms in the house. Unfortunately in a neighboring settlement someone used his M16 to settle a quarrel with his wife. That is note a joke.

  6. Joseph Kaplan

    Perhaps Gil could tell us the parameters for announcements which, the instructions say, include
    “a simchah
    a publication
    an upcoming lecture
    a get-together
    that you are looking for a particular book
    an upcoming radio appearance
    a holiday greeting
    and much more.”

    Is this the “much more”? If so, what other type of business would fall int that category?

  7. Announcements have ads all the time. I’ve got no problem with Jews having to defend themselves. When I was walking through Washington Heights during the Rodney King riots, I wished I had a gun and the training to use it.

  8. Well said Hirhurim.

  9. Joseph Kaplan

    So, Gil, does that mean that ads for any type of business — as long as they are not inappropriate Jewishly (e.g., selling treif food, involving chilul Shabbat or the like) — are acceptable for announcements?

  10. Within reason, although I reserve the right to use my own judgment and to ask she’eilos on specific cases.

  11. Kudos to Gil for publishing this ad. It is very appropriate in a frum Jewish publication, liberal anti-gun sentiment notwithstanding.

  12. I am as anti-gun in the home as they come (believe me), but I don’t see why frie-arms training is so objectionable. He’s not selling guns (AFAIK), just teaching people how to use them. There’s no reason one shouldn’t know how to handle a gun if it comes to that.

  13. The issue that I had was that there was nothing particularly JEWISH about the ad. Gil has now told us, I believe, that there does not necessarily have to be anything Jewish about an ad. If I’m mistaken in that, then I did not understand Gil’s responses to my earlier posts, and perhaps he could clarify.

  14. It’s sad. None of you would have said peep if it had been, say, a driving course. But liberal Jews never learn.

  15. Joseph Kaplan


    You’re absolutely wrong! I am strongly for gun control but my questioning of Gil had absolutely nothing to do with my position on that issue; I would have asked exactly the same ones for a driving course. Neither has anything “Jewish” about them, and I thought the announcements were reserved for things with some Jewish content. Apparently I was wrong, so I have no trouble with either type announcement (shooting or driving lessons) as far as advertising on the blog and making Gil some well deserved income for his hard work. But what’s really sad is that conservative (small “c”) Jews, so desperate to show how “right” they are, foolishly attempt to turn anything into an attack on liberals. (But I’d still look forward to an opportunity to duchan with you.)

  16. I am shocked at this pro- gun sentiment and no one would “accuse” me of being a “liberal” (rachmana letzlan) I think if any of you would have seen up close what a gun does to a child who has found it in the house would change his mind. IMHO in the galut let the authorities do the protection. Anyone who is dissatisfied with the police in America is hereby invited to come to Israel and learn how to use a firearm where it is really necessary.

  17. Lawrence Kaplan

    David Tzohar: I would hope that firearms instruction would include proper storage and keeping guns out of sight and reach of children.

    Your suggestion that anyone in Galut dissatisfied with police protection move to Israel is simplistic and offensive. There may be all sorts of reasons why someone may not be able to move to Israel. IYNSHO you think that in the Galut let the authorities do the protection. First it’s not nwcessarily a matter of either or. But more relevant, why not let those who live in the Galut decide for themselves, even if you think they are wrong. They’re the ones on the scene and you are not. Sound familiar?

    Let me emphasize that I have no strong opinion regarding gun control or fire arms instruction. (I am not sure the two issues are necessarily related.) I agree with my brother that if Gil accepts ads on non-Jewish matters this is a legitimate ad.

  18. Joseph,
    FWIW, the instructor is (or at least was recently) a frequent commentor on some of the large Jewish blogs (maybe even this one). So the Jewish content would be a Jew who wants to teach his people what he considers an essential survival skill.

  19. Joseph Kaplan


    I’m not convinced. Lots of skills are essential, even driving or swimming (as the Mishna tells us). It’s simply not a “Jewish” announcement, which I have no problem with if that’s the standard that Gil is setting. If the standard is otherwise (i.e., that an announcement requires Jewish content), then I have problems with this one, as I would with a driving or swimming announcement.

  20. I think it reasonable for Gil to take announcements that want to reach his audience in particular (not just as a specific demographic group among many others), and are not clearly problematic in themselves — such as a add for J4J would be.

  21. Lawrence Kaplan- Simplistic? Yes, I simply can’t understand what orthodox Jews are doing in America. Of course there are those who are anoosim,who really cant leave but in the larger picture the failure of American Orthodox Jewry to rise to the challenge of the return of the Jewish people, b’chasdei Hashem to its homeland will IMHO be judged very harshly by history.Meileh if the Orthodox community would be willing and able to do something to stem the tide of assimilation and intermarriage among the non- Orthodox then maybe it wouldn’t be so simple, but in light of the silent holocaust taking place the only real solution is mass aliya. I am talking in practical terms here, not about recognizing that fact that we are living in the period of atchalta d’geulah. I am sorry if all of this offends you, that is not my intent,but if I would not speak out I would be guilty of over al aseh הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך ולא תשא עליו חטא

  22. Lawrence Kaplan

    David Tzoher: You are either missing or evading my point. I have no quarrel with your calling for mass aliyah. I do have a quarrel with your freely dispensing advice from afar to Jews in America as to how they best can arrange for their personal security, and for basically saying that if they do not move to Israel they cannot take the steps they think are needed for their protection.

    I have alwys thought that Amercan Jews should be very very circumspect in advising Israelis asd to how best ensure their security. Ditto in reverse.

  23. MiMedinat HaYam

    can i put an ad for my chanukkah outdoor light set company that mimics another (?secular?) holiday?

  24. Lawrence Kaplan- Halevai that American Jews would “meddle” more in Israels affairs. I much prefer meddling to dispassionate indifference. It shows that they care. When I heard that a Jew was going to be executed in Florida I cared very much. In the same way I would care if a Jew who kept a gun in his house because it gave him a false sense of security used it to kill himself or another Jew. This is what I would tell a family member if he told me he wanted to by a gun and I consider all Jews my family.
    Practically speaking there is very little that I can do to influence what American Jews do or not do. Just think of me as an annoying relative who can’t help but tell you what he thinks is good for you.

  25. lawrence kaplan

    David Tzohar: You create a false alternative, either meddling or dispassionate indifference. Most diaspora Orthodox Jews I know passionately support Israel. My point is that if they combine that support with criticism, it should be phased very mildly and tentatively.

    Generally annoying relatives who let you know you what they think is good for you in rather crude and unvarnished terms turn out out to be, however well meaning they may be, self-defeating– and just annoying.

  26. Lawrence Kaplan-You imply that what I wrote was crude and unvarnished. I honestly don’t see it, certainly not crude. If what you mean by unvarnished is that I told the truth “bli kchal u’srak” then I am guilty as charged. I would point out that even annoying relatives are often right. You should not dismiss them so summarily.

  27. Raphael Kaufman

    The old chestnut that “a gun in the house poses a greater threat to family menbers than it does to intruders” is based on a bogus “study” done back in the ’60s. The reason it was bogus is that in included households that were already leagally compromised and households actually engaged in criminal activity, I.E. drug sales and prostitution. For the average law-abiding Jewish family, a gun in the house is no more likely to cause injury than a table saw in the basement and a lot less likely to cause injury than a swimming pool in the back yard. Folks who posess objects that have a potential for dangerous missuse have an obligation to take precautions to prevent that misuse. That would include keeping such objects as, guns, power tools, swimming pools, prescription drugs, household chemicals and, yes, the family car under lock and key except when actually in use by or supervised by a competent individual.

  28. Yossi (Joe) Izrael

    is there a moderation or waiting period of some sort b/f comments appear?

  29. Yossi (Joe) Izrael

    In the past year + I haven’t followed blogs (including my own semi-defunct blog) but a guy in shul told me that my ad on Hirhurim “stirred controversy”, which I checked out by myself. I just wanted to make a couple of points:

    1) I simply asked Gil for the advertising options on his website, this was one of them.
    2) The difference of opinions regarding firearms is not foreign to me. However, most people who oppose civilian firearms ownership are unfamiliar with either firearms or the history of gun control (going back to the days of Shmuel Hanavi – see I Sam 13:19). Part of opposing/criticizing something is to be familiar with the subject first.
    3) Firearms go far beyond home/personal protection. There are many different disciplines in the shooting sports, to suit every taste & personality. I believe shooting is very important for youth as it instills responsibility, concentration and respect – three vital elements sorely missing from contemporary culture. Another great aspect is that it doesn’t necessitate specific physical fitness or other requirement – in fact women are usually better than men with semi-auto pistols. Women have also won many shotgun championships. Many shooting disciplines compete at the Olympic games, too.

  30. Yossi (Joe) Izrael

    4) In a broader perspective firearms are closely related to many other fields; physics and math for ballistics, mechanical engineering & optics, etc. For many people, these important subjects by themselves would be dull and guns can really ignite their interest.
    5) Guns are dangerous, and only a fool would ignore it. You relate to it as to any other dangerous item you possess (cars, household chemicals, swimming pools, knives, gas ranges, etc) i.e. responsibly.
    6) For those wishing to find out a bit more, here are some links worth checking out:
    National Shooting Sports Foundation –
    Civilian Marksmanship Program

  31. Yossi (Joe) Izrael

    Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (check out the new movie “No Guns For Jews”!)
    Gun Owners of America
    Ask The Rabbi
    NRA –
    Find a course near you (check the course you’re interested in & enter zipcode) –

  32. Perhaps, the difference is where one lives. If one visits Israel, one can see “Shmirah” with armed weapons being performed by Israelis of all ages and backgrounds. In Israel, self-defense is a necessary part of fighting terrorism. In the US, we rely on the authorities, , even if one views their ability to do so as being circumscribed somewhat by the expansion in civil liberties, and speficically, the broadened readings of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

  33. It is certainly the case that all those who have commented on this post are tzaddikim gemurim. At the same time, I think (kitalmid ha’yoshev bakarka vidan lifnei rabbotav) that there is an important halakhic question here: since the gemara in Ketubot 41b derives from “vilo tasim damim biveitekha” that one may not store an unfriendly dog or a rickety ladder in one’s home, we may legitimately inquire whether it is appropriate for observant Jews to own guns. [A corollary of this question is presented by R. Bleich in “The Case of the Poisoned Sandwich” in Tradition 41:3.] Of course, a countervailing consideration to Ketubot 41b is the mishnah in Bava Batra 7b which entitles all members of society to compel one another to build urban fortifications. The latter source authorizes every society to equip a fully weaponized police force (overriding considerations of “vilo tasim damim biveitekha”). Thus, the key consideration becomes – do we view every citizen as a potential member of the police force (in anticipation of rare times of civil unrest, as described by R. Student) and therefore authorize the arming of all civilians. The State of Israel might arguably be unique in this regard; since it is in a theoretical state of war with its hostile neighbours, it might be deemed a district where every citizen is indeed a member of the police.

  34. Sorry, I see R’ Steve Brizel already nicely encapsulated what I was about to say. Thanks.

  35. Of course, I should also add that an entirely independent justification for the owning of a firearm by a Jew (even if civilians are not deemed to be members of the police) would be when the Jew uses a firearm to earn an honest living, e.g. he is a fur hunter. This is established by Shu”t Noda Bi-yehudah, Yoreh De’ah II, no. 10. R. Landau permits hunting for parnassah, but prohibits it for recreation.
    The reason I refer specifically to fur hunting (as distinct from meat hunting) is because a person who hunts for meat with a shotgun will be selling his customers treifah or neveilah, and that is not a permissible occupation for a Jew, as per Shulchan Arukh Yoreh De’ah no. 117. [In a Montreal lecture delivered in summer 2003, R. Hershel Schachter expounded a virtually identical point: a Jew may hunt non-kosher animals for fur, but not for meat.]

  36. Shalom,
    If you bring me a source indicating that it is assur to have a sword or a bow and arrow in the house, I will consider your argument. Otherwise, it is clearly a stretch, and an unreasonable one at that. A dangerous dog and rickety ladder are dangerous in themselves, that is, their danger is to anyone who comes in contact with them and is not (entirely) in the control of the person endangered. The same is not at all true of a gun.

  37. Thank you, R’ MDJ, for the excellent rejoinder. The gun could arguably be envisaged as more dangerous than the sword or bow & arrow since the gun requires less physical manipulation on the part of the miscreant to produce a lethal result than a sword or a bow & arrow. Still, your point is well taken; the matter appears to require further halakhic investigation. I think, then, there are three key questions to pose:
    (a) Is the gun actually analogous to the unfriendly dog or rickety ladder?
    (b) Even if so, are civilians to be reckoned as members of the police force, in anticipation of the rare event of civil unrest (like the Rodney King riot)?
    (c) Even if not, does the owner of the gun need the gun in order to earn an honest living (as per the responsum of the Noda Bi-yehuda)?

    If one can answer, either NO to the first question, or YES to the second question, or YES to the third question, then owning a gun would become an appropriate Orthodox Jewish enterprise. On the other hand, if one answers YES to the first question, plus NO to the second and third questions, owning a gun would be prohibited for the Orthodox Jew. I honestly don’t the answer one way or another.

  38. “…don’t know the answer one way or another.” Thanks.

  39. MiMedinat HaYam

    a number of years ago, an elderly jew was killed in crown heights on shabat eve because he did not have any money on him.

    rabbonim started discussing the permissiblity of carrying “mug money” on shabat. (mug money = token amount of $ to give off to a mugger.)

    when rav meir kahane h”yd heard about it, he said “if you can carry mug money, you can carry a gun!”

  40. R’ Spira,
    (b)should be “Does the owner have a legitimate need to be called upon to defend himself” Member of the police force is not a halachic category, and there are at least some on this blog (not me, except in my most paranoid moments) who think that Jews should be prepared to defend themselves also, or perhaps davka, from the legal authorities. (Note that I am not calling them paranoid.)

  41. Raphael Kaufman

    In Rabbi Neuwirth’s “Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchaso”, the question is raised if one may carry a personal sidearm on Shabbos. R’Neuwirth rules that it is permitted (within an eruv). He holds that a gun is muktza on Shabbos (unlike R’Goren who holds otherwise) but nevertheless may be carried where a threat exists. Further he rules that it need not be an immediate threat. If the knowledge that Jews are armed would deter a possible threat, that is sufficient. It seems clear that R’ Neuwirth feels that it is muttar for a Jew to have a gun in the house for self defense even if the need for self defense is only theoretical.

    In addition, as pointed out by a previous responder, a firearm used for a halachically permitted activity such as fur hunting (mentioned above)or legitimate sport may certainly be possessed by a Jew.

    As I mention in my previous post, any object that one posesses that has the potential for harmful misuse must be carefully guarded agaist such misuse.

  42. Raphael Kaufman

    The police function of a society is really vested in every adult member of that society. But, since calling everyone to periodic guard duty complicates normal social and commercial intercourse, and since everyone is not physically capable of extended foot chases, it is simply cheaper and more efficient to hire full time guardians, I.E. a Police Force, to pull guard duty and let the rest of us get on with running a society.

  43. lawrence kaplan

    Rabbi Spira; Why not say what you have to say WITHOUT your standard preface about the bloggers being tzddikin gemurim. Certainly you should realize tha since we are, indeed, all tzadikim gemurim– and great anavim to boot– we are deeply pained to receive such public praise.

  44. Touché. I thank Mori ViRebbi R. Kaplan for his kind guidance, and I stand corrected. [Thanks, also, to the previous three interlocutors for their improvements on my thought.]

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