New Periodical: RJJ Journal LXI

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A really great issue of The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society (Pesach 5771, Spring 2011):

  • Confirming Piskei Din in Secular Court by R. Yaakov Feit and Dr. Michael Helfand — A convincing article that from both the legal and halakhic perspectives, confirming a beis din’s ruling in secular court is permissible and even recommended. The article is online here: link.
  • cRc Guide to Starbucks Beverages by R. Sholem Fishbane and R. Dovid Cohen — This is the way an article on practical halakhah should be written. Precision on the realia; exploration of the halakhic issues with care to show areas where room exists for leniencies and/or stringencies; and a practical ruling where their posek decided. I would be suspicious if they were lenient or strict on every issue raised. Bottom line: There is what to discuss but their posek (R. Gedalia Schwartz) is strict on one important issue and they therefore do not recommend just about anything in Starbucks stores. See also this post: link. The article is online here: link (PDF).
  • Shabbat Brit of a Child Conceived Through Medical Intervention by R. Yonatan Kohn and R. Gideon Weitzman — If a child is conceived artificially, does a mother become temei’ah at birth? According to R. Chananel (commentary to Chagigah 16a, no. Therefore, based on Shabbos (135a-136b), such a child’s circumcision would not be allowed on Shabbos. Authorities disagree on many of the details within this argument or whether it is valid at all.
  • Secular Music by Ezriel Gelbfish — A review of the standard responsa on this subject, albeit omitting R. Yehudah Henkin’s responsum (link), and including an oral ruling from R. Yisroel Belsky that “one should not listen to rock music and its sister genres, whose aggressive styles and rowdy undertones erode one’s sense of morality and closeness to Hashem.” Surprisingly takes R. Efraim Luft’s booklet The Torah is Not Hefker seriously (see here: I, II, III, IIIa, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII).
  • Halacha and Bioethics by Dr. John D. Loike and R. Moshe D. Tendler — Broad principles of bioethics that initially seem abstract until the authors contrast them with secular ethics and offer concrete examples. That really helps crystallize the important points.
  • Letters R. Binyomin Cohen of Chaim Berlin sends a brief and understated critique of an article on taking medicine on Shabbos. The authors, R. D. Sukenik and R. M. Walter respond at length.

    R. O.Y. Westheim clarifies that he has changed/improved his standards for oat matzos.

    R. Kaganoff (no first name — Yirmiyahu?) sharply critiques R. Alfred Cohen’s article for not stating that until rabbis and dayanim are fully equipped to deal with allegations of sexual abuse, victims’ parents should go immediately to the police and/or media. R. Cohen responds that he was only discussing a case where the allegation could not be substantiated.

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 Board of Jewish Action magazineand the Board of OU Press. He has published four 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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