Daily Reyd

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▪ Learning Torah in all sorts of online forms is the new normal: Internet Bible reading surges, now 4 in 10 read God’s words digitally
▪ On intermarriage: Fishman: The Larger Battle
Brody: NYC Primary a Referendum on Repentance
▪ The only place in the world where tourists need a Jastrow to communicate with the locals: Native Aramaic speakers caught up in Syrian war
▪ Is she Chabad, who are often remarkably open, or another type of Chasidic?: 24 Year-Old Hasidic Woman Seeks To Break Boundaries With Candidacy For Borough Seat
▪ Presumably he means marriage in its ideal form (Adam & Eve) or its Noahide form, because Avraham and Ya’akov, not to mention David, had more than one wife. Also opposes women’s ordination (equality does not mean uniformity): UK’s new Chief Rabbi: Bible clearly teaches marriage is between one man and one woman
▪ Misleading headline. Moving it from junior high to high school. Age-appropriateness is at least partially community-specific: Religious schools balk at sex ed
▪ Old blog post, quoting R. Lichtenstein about his father-in-law’s practice: Rav Soloveitchik and Kaparos
▪ Silly argument but serious point – even seemingly innocuous stringencies have unintended consequencess: Do The Burqa Women Have It Right?
▪ I can’t imagine any organization will care in this post-Tivo world: The NFL displays religious insensitivity

(Spelling of “reid” changed to “reyd”–after consultation with academic–to avoid confusion)

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 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. What Rabbi Mirvis said was, “We have a clear Biblical definition of marriage which is the union of one man and one woman”. The fact that on the man’s side this relationship is not exclusive means only that a man can be bound in more than one marriage simultaneously; it does not mean that a marriage exists with a husband and two co-wives.

  2. Joseph Kaplan

    Even if Joel is right about “simultaneous marriages”, such Biblical marriages are not accepted in most of the modern world, including the world of traditional Judaism. Thus, to link Biblical marriage with “traditional family life” would not, I believe, resonate with those who believe that “simultaneous marriages” are as destructive to traditional family life as SSMs. IOW, while bringing Biblical values into this debate within the Jewish community is perfectly appropriate, it does not seem to me to be the wisest thing to do, or the most intellectually honest thing to do (i.e., ignoring discussing the fact that “simultaneous marriage” also falls within the “clear Biblical definition of marriage”), with respect to the outside world. (I note that R. Mirvis’s remarks were to the BBC.)

  3. At least since the Gezerah of Rabbeinu Gershom, marriage has been defined as one man married to one woman. You cannot find a single place either in Tanach or Chazal that glorifies polygmamous relationships or views it as the ideal. Perhaps, R Mirvis’s use of the term “Biblical” was rooted in the view of the same via the Sages of the Mesorah.

  4. Biblical is biblical and rabbinic is rabbinic. I agree that one man one woman is a rabbinic value. But with 2 of the patriarchs and the 2 major kings of Israel — kings we still venerate — being married, simultaneously, to more than one woman, it is misleading to say it is a biblical value in speaking outside the Jewish community as R. Mirvis did. I don’t think it was intentional; probably a slip of the tongue. But as chief rabbi he has to be especially diligent to parse his words carefully.

    • Joseph Kaplan, you reiterated that “family” didn’t originally mean something founded by two adults, one of each gender. But those are different concepts. Also, every family had one and only one male, which would exclude gay marriage, biblically.

      But more to the point: Isn’t it accurate that the Torah defines marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman? (Questions of whether a man may participate in more than one marriage aside…) When we say marriage has value, in and of itself without taking into account any progeny or other relationships, isn’t that the “marriage” we are speaking of?

      In other words, Joseph Kaplan, how does your response reflect the exchange you had earlier with Joel C Salomon?

      • My point, Micha, was not that Biblical values supports SSM; of course they don’t. But biblical marriage is also not the relationship of one man/one woman (I disagree with Joel Solomon). Ya’akov did not have one marriage/relationship with Leah and another with Rachel and yet another with Bilhah and a fourth with Zilpah. He had one marriage/relationship with all 4 at the same time (which caused lots of problems). That’s the sense that I get from the biblical text. And that Biblical definition of marriage not only is not “the union of one man and one woman” but some types of Biblical marriages are also not something “through [which] we value traditional family life,” at least not since Rabbenu Gershom (and probably earlier)

        Or let me say it this way. If you want to bring a Biblical argument against SSM, bring it from Leviticus. Or make an argument from the “Jewish” or “rabbinic” definition of marriage over the past millenium (at least in Ashkenazic communities). But don’t bring it from the “Biblical” definition of marriage because to do so one has to defend polygamy. And to many, polygamy is no better than SSM. Indeed, to many it’s worse.

        • I don’t see how that “sense” is in the text. Yaaqov marries the two sisters a week apart, and initiates his relationships with Bilhah and Zilpah at 3rd and 4th time in his life. How can they be one relationship? Similarly, “ki yiqach ish ishah” isn’t followed by “o noshaim”.

          • Because there is no sense that there were four families living together. Rather, there was one family, with all 12 sons constantly referred to as brothers. (Reminds me of the HBO show about the Mormon polygamous family — in family structure, that is, not in anything else.) As for “ishah/nashim,” if it is meaningful (which I do not think it is), it would be a textual argument against polygamy. But as I said, I don’t think it’s meaningful.

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