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About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of TorahMusings.com, 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 has served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently 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.

38 comments

  1. I’m not sure what to feel about the Hadar article.

    On the one hand, I think that we need to be much more open about sexual issues than we are today. I also think that premarital sex has got to stop being the “one-strike-and-you’re-out” offense it is today.

    OTOH, I can’t help but get the feeling that some of the people there are just looking for a way to justify their having pre-marital relations. I have a real problem with this kind of “find the justification” attitude (on the right and the left). It really rankles me that people who join a community with a commitment to halacha then see halacha as simply a rubber stamp (again, in any direction).

    It’s God-worship, people, not me-worship. Sometimes we have to sacrifice for our principles.

  2. WADR to Rabbi Tucker and the rest of the Hadar staff, this business about starting what he calls, “a beginning to a whole new way of talking” is a load of arrogant BS. People far greater than Rabbi Tucker have already weighed in rather effectively on the subject and there’s no need for anything further. What Rabbi Tucker is engaging in is obfuscation of something that is abundantly clear and unambiguous.

  3. BTW,

    Does anyone know more about Norman Solomon? He has a book slated to come out in the fall that might add more fuel to the TMS grist, so I’d be curious to know his credentials:

    http://www.littman.co.uk/cat/solomon-torah.html

  4. Did he write a book about lomdus many years ago?

  5. I don’t know if it’s the same person.

  6. Norman Solomon is an Orthodox rabbi from England who used to have a pulpit, and is now an academic at Oxford (though I think it is a a subsidiary institute and does not involve a faculty position). I believe, however, that he may have some left wing theological views despite his strict orthodox practice. I think we will have to wait for the book to find out. And I do not believe he ever wrote a book on lomdus.

  7. MDJ,

    Solomon wrote ” The Analytic Movement: Hayyim Soloveitchik and his School (Scholars Press, Atlanta 1993)”

  8. Skeptic,
    OK. I wasn’t aware of that, but assumed a book on lomdus was supposed to be something like “The Lomdus Book” from a few years back, which is not his type of book.

  9. For those who are interested in R. Dr. Solomon:
    http://www.mucjs.org/sherman01cv.htm

  10. MiMedinat HaYam

    doesnt the article state that hadar does NOT consider itself a halachic institution, unlike jts, which does?

  11. This is why I can’t take pro-Hadar people seriously. They’d really like you to believe that the crowd observes Halakha fully, the only difference between them and Orthodoxy is that they supplement it with all the fluffy stuff (or at least, they generally try to convince me that way). But there’s a serious problem here. Up until now, when they were just messing with d’rabbanans like minyan stuff, which also isn’t a mahmir/mekil, I think they could still consider themselves Halakhic if not Orthodox. But now we’re talking about extremely clear d’oraitas brought down explicitly straight through the Rishonim with no wiggle room – unless you really think pilegesh is wiggle-room – and in fact the only problem they have with pilegesh is that it’s “sexist”! If one – just *one* – person interviewed said, “well, yes, I’d really like to have pre-marital sex, but it’s clear that the Halakha is that I should not, so I’m gonna have to wait a while,” then they might retain some legitimacy. And the “we’re training lay-leaders” is no excuse either – they force everyone to daven at their egalitarian minyan in order to participate, so it’s clear there are deal-breakers for them. Just that the deal-breakers involve commitment to egalitarianism, not Halakha itself.

    But I do appreciate that the article pointed out the hidden abandonment of sexual prohibitions that goes with further egalitarianism.

  12. One would think pre-marital sex (not to mention masturbation and homosexuality) doesn’t exist amongst Orthodox young adults. Or adultery amongst older adults…

  13. IH-The issue is not whether the practices you mentioned exist, but whether one understands that the same are prohibited, and that even if one transgresses the same, there are means of Teshuvah, as opposed to discussing how one “relates” to the same. WADR, there is a huge gulf between the two views.

  14. “This year, Tucker gave six lectures on nidah, the rules of sexual prohibition and permission in marriage.”

    They are available online (I haven’t viewed them myself). First one at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/10166280

  15. Given the views of Hadar on this area of Halacha and others, I can’t see how its POV could or should ever be given a forum at YU.

  16. I’m beginning to wonder if I misread the article posted. Can you refer me to the specific quotation(s) that elicited your last reaction, Steve? [And MMhY for that matter?]

  17. Jon_Brooklyn

    I think you’re misrepresenting Hadar people. Those I know claim specifically to not be following halacha like the Orthodox. R. Tucker has a special approach to halacha that he claims is more faithful to the mesorah than an Orthodox approach. You’re focusing on the details when they focus on the method.

  18. Richard, the question is, what mesorah? A textual mesorah? i.e. faithful to the sources or an actual passed down mesorah rebbe to talmid?

  19. Returned chametz-tvilat keilim?
    KT

  20. Richard: that’s very possible. I’m talking about the people I know that are “pro-Hadar”, not necessarily the people in the institution. It’s very possible that those are arguments only the people I know are making.

  21. I really don’t get the Hadar issue:

    1. The article did not refer to them as Orthodox. Their website (as far as I can tell) does not refer to them as Orthodox.

    2. The article did not refer to them ordaining people. Their website (as far as I can tell) does not refer to them ordaining people.

    3. If #1 and #2 are correct we are talking about the bedroom practices of non-Orthodox lay people (though quite religiously committed). So why are people shocked, shocked, shocked? Indeed, is any other alternative to their stance possible to have a viable program? Maybe I have an unrealistic sentiment about non-Orthodox Jewish adults.

    4. Is this going to be the same debate as about the 1st generation Reform? Are they making those who would be non-religious more religious (or keeping those born Orthodox from totally leaving halacha) or, alternatively, are they making those who would be Orthodox non-Orthodox? Or is it a little of each?

    5. Why shouldn’t they rely on preligesh on a deoraita level (not that I have any idea whether they actually rely on it)? On a deoraita level isn’t living with your partner better then the more Orthodox “tfillin date”? What is their alternative: “you are all hell-bound sinners but welcome to the elite egalitarian Jewish learning program for all that where you can explore your traditions in an open and caring environment”?

  22. MiMedinat HaYam

    chumus — first, this is very left wing area of nyc. and an arab store. second — sabra is garbage compared to sonny’s and joe’s. and its no longer made in brooklyn, but in virginia, where i am sure they employ few of the ethnic types desired by the protesters. and fourth — flaums the appetizing store and flaums the food manufacturers are two separate entities, owned by separate groups of chassidim.

    and its not a chumus war, like the recent biggest falafel contests of a few months ago, which the article begins to imply.

    2. who cares about a sheva brachot in modiin? (sounds like chassidic practice — a sheva brachot without the kallah present.) the real question we have here (and was discussed a year or so ago here in hirhurim (regarding rabbi l / national day of prayer event) is whether or not rav sachs will be at the wedding?

  23. IH wrote:

    “I’m beginning to wonder if I misread the article posted. Can you refer me to the specific quotation(s) that elicited your last reaction, Steve’

    WADR,I think that only someone ignorant or intent on distirting the meaning of the term “yeshiva” would consider Hadar a yeshiva. Seminars on how a person approaches a Halacha or area of Halacha should IMO be confused with Talmud Torah Lishma.

  24. Steve — you’re entitled to your (mistaken) belief, but it has no basis in the article that I read. As always, when challenged you change tack rather than addressing the challenge. Whatever…

  25. Relevant to the Flaum story, the haftorah on the last day of Pesach (in chul) started at the end of Yeshiyahu 10. But, the perek begins:

    א הוֹי הַחֹקְקִים, חִקְקֵי-אָוֶן; וּמְכַתְּבִים עָמָל, כִּתֵּבוּ. ב לְהַטּוֹת מִדִּין, דַּלִּים, וְלִגְזֹל, מִשְׁפַּט עֲנִיֵּי עַמִּי–לִהְיוֹת אַלְמָנוֹת שְׁלָלָם, וְאֶת-יְתוֹמִים יָבֹזּוּ. ג וּמַה-תַּעֲשׂוּ לְיוֹם פְּקֻדָּה, וּלְשׁוֹאָה מִמֶּרְחָק תָּבוֹא: עַל-מִי תָּנוּסוּ לְעֶזְרָה, וְאָנָה תַעַזְבוּ כְּבוֹדְכֶם. ד בִּלְתִּי כָרַע תַּחַת אַסִּיר, וְתַחַת הֲרוּגִים יִפֹּלוּ; בְּכָל-זֹאת לֹא-שָׁב אַפּוֹ, וְעוֹד יָדוֹ נְטוּיָה

  26. Oh give it a rest, IH. Do you know the details of the story, any more than what Uri L’Tzedek have said?

  27. Jon: Do you disagree with these 2 facts: 1) the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Flaum’s oweed the workers $260,000 in back wages. 2) Flaum’s has not complied.

  28. So as not to be misconstrued – I am not a fan of the campaign for stores to boycott Flaum’s because this removes individual responsibility. Jews committed to halacha should ask themselves whether, given that there is a choice in certified Chumus products, they should be supporting a commercial enterprise that violates the ethical standards they think makes us Kadosh. It is the individual (and their community Rabbis) that should be weighing the facts; rather than the store owners.

  29. “I really don’t get the Hadar issue:

    1. The article did not refer to them as Orthodox. Their website (as far as I can tell) does not refer to them as Orthodox.

    2. The article did not refer to them ordaining people. Their website (as far as I can tell) does not refer to them ordaining people.

    3. If #1 and #2 are correct we are talking about the bedroom practices of non-Orthodox lay people (though quite religiously committed). So why are people shocked, shocked, shocked? Indeed, is any other alternative to their stance possible to have a viable program? Maybe I have an unrealistic sentiment about non-Orthodox Jewish adults.”

    Agree. Hadar is not Orthodox and does not pretend to be so. It is also non-halachic, despite its pretences. So basically, the fact that it has no issue with Pre-marital relations shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody.

  30. MiMedinat HaYam

    to raphael a:

    the article implies that it is an observant (of some type) institution, and only at the end disclaims a rabbinic ideal. its enough for them to reprint the article, and gain attention as a left of yct observant institution. (i am reminded of a radio announcer introducing utj as “modern orthodox”. despite my calling him on it, the O announcer insisted on his MO terminology.)

    2. wasnt there some sort of debate here on a similar “yeshiva” in your town of montreal. (or was it toronto? i’m sorry, its overseas, eitherway, in canada.)

    3. would they require the same weekend arrangement for a same sex couple? (or rather non arrangement)

  31. 2. wasnt there some sort of debate here on a similar “yeshiva” in your town of montreal. (or was it toronto? i’m sorry, its overseas, eitherway, in canada.)

    I’m in toronto (good memory). Well, there is no debate. Its (basically) a Conservative academy headed by R Speber and may only be accepted on the most left-wing fringes of Orthodoxy.

  32. MiMedinat HaYam

    to raphael:

    re: that other C institution in tornoto: while i agree with you, comments such as yours were disputed by other commenters on this site.

  33. MiMedinat HaYam

    regarding the moslem who returned the chametz — was it halachically legal to (some form of sell) whiskey to a muslim who cant / wont (supposedly) own alcohol? conversly — can you sell spirits to a non jew during prohibition (though i doubt spirits was considered sacramental, but lets ignore for purposes of discussion.)

  34. Interesting piece by Prof. Temple Grandin in the Forward:
    http://forward.com/articles/137318/

  35. Jews should not comment about internal affairs of other religions-whether or not Popes John Paul or Pius are saints or otherwise,

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