New Periodical: RJJ Journal LXIV

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New issue of The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society (Sukkot 5773, Fall 2012, No. LXIV):

  • Deafness in Halacha: A Reappraisal by R. Moshe Taub – Deaf people who can communicate or even hear with a hearing aid or cochlear implant fall somewhere between the classical deaf person and someone who can fully communicate. This article explores where halakhah will change across the spectrum of abilities and where not, according to a variety of authorities.
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy Practices: A Halachic View by R. Yigal Shafran – Covering the rules of intergender touching in a variety of circumstances–training, mild injury, severe injury, another therapist is available, wearing gloves. Also therapy on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Practical guidelines rather than an article exploring the issues.
  • In the Eye of the Storm: Shabbat Observance During a Hurricane or Severe Weather Event by R. Kenneth Brander – An excellent article sensitively covering all of the likely situations, according to multiple views.
  • Determining the Onset of Aveilut by R. David Etengoff – A machlokes whether mourners who do not accompany the deceased to Israel begin shivah when they leave the airport or after the burial. With modern communication, we can know exactly when the burial takes place.
  • Hemophiliac Brit by R. A. Cohen – Debate whether a hemophiliac should have a laser circumcision.
  • Scriptural Inscriptions on Jewelry by R. Eli Ozarowski – Is jewelry with biblical verses forbidden? Simple answer is yes based on a responsum of the Rambam but there are leniencies according to many. Covers many issues but not the potential leniency of verses written on a curve.
  • Letters – R. Binyamin Cohen (of Chaim Berlin?) challenges R. Yona Reiss’ acceptance of the testimony of minors to their own injury. R. Reiss responds at length. R. Fred Grossman and M. Levy object to the notion of invalidating a conversion. E. Lewkowicz objects to the freezing of eggs on social grounds. Dr. Rybak responds that the social issues are worthy of communal discussion.

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.


  1. Does Scriptural Inscriptions on Jewelry discuss

  2. Yes, of Chaim Berlin. (Son of Rav Shraga Feivel Cohen, author of Baday Shulchan series.)

  3. ” Covering the rules of intergender touching in a variety of circumstances”

    is there a distinction btween ot/pts and physicians?

  4. “abba’s rantings on October 5, 2012 at 12:31 am
    ” Covering the rules of intergender touching in a variety of circumstances”

    is there a distinction btween ot/pts and physicians?”

    Why should there be a distinction? If a physician is engaging in pikuach nefesh it might be different but then what is permissible for pikuach nefesh would be applicable to all-just physicians may deal with it much more often.

  5. Therapy is long, ongoing and often in a private residence. Much more intimate.

  6. Rav Binyamin Cohen is author of Chelkas Binyamin on Yoreh Deah.

  7. Anon and Sass: I certainly know who R. Binyamin ben R. Shraga Feivel Cohen is. I used to daven in his father’s shul. My question was that, given that this is a common name, is this the one from Chaim Berlin and the author of Chelkas Binyamin (on some parts of Yoreh Deah)?

  8. MiMedinat HaYam

    regarding deaf and cochlear implant — i undestand some (?many?) deaf ppl oppose the surgery for their deaf children. does the article should discuss that issue, too.

    hurricane — a hurricane a few years ago in southern florida had advisories to shuls to cancel shabbat minyan, and permitting … various …

    r brander would be appropriate for such an article.

    private residence — but often the spouse (other caretaker) is present. which may (or may not) make a difference. not in touching, but other issues.

  9. IH, were the Ketef Hinnom amulets used as jewelry? In any case, if halacha had to account for the actual history of amulet use in Jewish history we’d be in big trouble. Too many weird things going on. Fortunately it’s probably not relevant to the issue at hand.

  10. Jerry — I am no expert, but my understanding from the articles was that they were worn on the body apparently on a permanent basis. Whether that makes them “jewelry” in that time period, I do not know.

    My thinking is that if you accept that halacha (as opposed to mitzvot) is an innovation of the Tana’im in the Mishna, then p’shita. But, if you believe Rabbinic Halacha was practiced by Jews since Matan Torah, then it is a problem that the only (!) Torah text we have found from the period of Bayit Rishon is, dafka, an amulet worn on the body. Hence, my question given the short summary provided.

  11. “Hirhurim on October 5, 2012 at 7:50 am
    Therapy is long, ongoing and often in a private residence. Much more intimate”
    Thus the question is not profession but meziut-thus a gynecologist,urologist etc is much more intimate than other physicians or pt/ot-private residences also question of fact-I have a sister-in-law who works in a hospital as a therapist not in a private residence.

  12. Yes, Gil. This Rav Binyamin Cohen, son of Rav Shraga Feivel Cohen is author of Chelkas Binyamin and a Rosh Kollel in Chaim Berlin. It is he who wrote the letter to the RJJ Journal.

  13. IH: They were found in a grave. There’s no way of knowing how they were used, although they were rolled up into cylinders, implying they were amulets of some sort.

    It’s not surprising they are the only surviving texts- they are etched into metal (silver). Other ways of writing- parchment, papyrus- are organic and thus rot. (The Dead Sea Scrolls and Cairo Geniza and other documents from Egypt had the good fortune to be in really dry conditions.) Thus, apart from wall carvings and paintings, any non-amulet used texts have most likely not survived.

  14. Oh, and it should be pointed out that the texts are not identical to those in “our” Torah, although again nothing definitive can be proved. (In one case, it seems a line was skipped by accident.)

  15. Do tefilin count as amulets?

  16. Nachum — Yes, but it still seems relevant to the topic of the article. All I am asking is if it is covered? Has anyone actually read the article who can answer yes or no?

  17. BTW, I am not a curator, but I think that much ancient jewelry we have in museums today also comes from graves.

  18. IH: I agree that it would be. As to graves: I think the general rule is that if it wasn’t buried, it didn’t survive. Back in the day, people weren’t as respectful of antiquities. If it was a precious metal, you melted it down. This doesn’t have good implications to ever finding original keilim of the Beit HaMikdash, by the way.

  19. Do tefilin count as amulets?

    Their stated purpose is to remind you of the mitzvot and of yetziat mitzraim. If for some reason some people believe tefillin to have magical protective powers, then in their eyes, tefillin are amulets. But that wasn’t the Torah’s intention.

  20. >Hemophiliac Brit

    Cute pun (the British royal family suffers from this condition)

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