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▪ American Yoatzot: Landmark US program graduates first female halachic advisers
Drive-by shiva
▪ I enjoy a good shot of whiskey but this bothers me: WhiskyFest Caves to the Jews
With vacant space, Conservative and Reform temples turn to Orthodox
▪ This is just strange. No, Bereishis does not claim that all languages derive from Hebrew (link): Is English Derived From Hebrew?
In case you missed it, R. Ari Enkin has published a new sefer, Da’at V’din: Halachic Insights & Responsa

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief 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 serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance 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. “I enjoy a good shot of whiskey but this bothers me: WhiskyFest Caves to the Jews”

    Why does this bother you? If a significant portion of the clientele are Shomer Shabbos, then it makes sense not to hold the festival on Shabbos. No one forced anyone to do anything — it is just that when the organizers moved it to Shabbos, they lost a large chunk of attendees, and then a competitor decide to tap into the market.

    I don’t like imposing our religion on others, particularly non-Jews, but OTOH if they want to service our community (and reaps the profits thereof) they need to accomodate us. Otherwise, the free market takes care of it.

    • Sorry for being unclear. What bothers me is the glorification of food, or in this case alcohol.

      • I have been to one WhiskyFest in my life (before it was switched to the weekend), and in my view, the observant Jews who attended accomplished nothing less than a kiddush Hashem: none were rowdy (although we were all admittedly freilich, just like our non-Jewish fellow attendees); most of the frum Jews in attendance had a refined whisky palate (many were liquor store owners and distributors who were at the event “on business”); many if not most of us attended the educational seminars (yes, seminars) that occurred off in the side rooms every half hour; and we even stopped for Ma’ariv midway through the event.

        Whiskyfest is no more a glorification of food than its sibling Kosherfest: do you take the same view about that event? Should the various kashrut agencies withhold their hashgacha from it on grounds of “achila gassa”?

        The simple truth is that the Orthodox Jewish community’s approach to food has rapidly changed in the last century. The majority of the community acts in accordance with Shmuel’s dictum that anyone who fasts is a sinner (Ta’anit 11a), and Rav’s saying at the end of Yerushalmi Kiddushin that we will have to give account in Olam Haba for every pleasure we refused in this world. In short, we no longer regard measured indulgence as the behavior of a naval birshut HaTorah.

        • yes, I feel much the same way about kosherfest. halevai the community had made a conscious decision to follow shmuel’s dictum, I suspect acculturation is a more likely explanation. Kach mkublani mbeit avi abba – everything in moderation except gaavah and kaas.

          • Your father learned Hilhkhos Dei’os 2:3.

            But note that the Rambam ends that pereq warning against taking that attitude toward qin’ah, taavah vekavod. So somehow we need to distinguish between gaavah and kavod.

            I think there is also a problem keeping people frum when we didn’t raise them with the expectation that frum life will involve sacrifice (but it’s worth it).

            And it’s not just consumption, it’s conspicuous consumption.

            But maybe I’m just jealous of those people who can invest that it takes to learn a taste for a fine single malt and grourmet food. It’s easy for me to speak all high and mighty about not doing something I couldn’t do anyway.

      • Perhaps only slightly worse than the rescheduling of sporting events and fashion shows?

  2. I had no clue that Nishmat was offering a program in America. Wow. Yishar kochachen.

    (And how much media coverage has this gotten?)

  3. I would be interested if anyone could hesitate a guess as to the sect demographics of attendees (MO. chassidish….)

  4. I tend toward Gil’s side here. The glorification of some foods, particularly alcoholic drinks, in parts of the Orthodox world veers toward the troubling.

    As to “Edenics”: The article seems shocked that others consider the theory crackpot. Maybe…because it is?

    Two of my professors at YU set matters clear here. I remember one saying, with his tongue literally in his cheek, “I don’t want to get into arguments over which language was spoken in Eden, but let me just point out that Arabic preserves elements no longer found in Hebrew.” (The “nun” that Hebrew replaces with a dagesh, for example.) Indeed, it seems the dominant theory among mefarshim is that Adam and Chava (define as you wish) spoke Aramaic, as did Avraham. (The first professor was basically “Means well, no one take him seriously, but he’s doing a lot of damage.”)

    Mozeson is trying to prove something that Judaism has never really claimed, and using it, oddly, as a tool to attack evolution (or enlist the support of anti-evolutionists, which at least makes sense.)

    • Many, many years ago I first read this essay: http://www.zompist.com/chance.htm
      Its reasoning is what led me to reject Edenics out of hand when I first encountered it, later on. The key is semantic leeway – once you accept a broad definition of “cognate” by expanding the kinds of “synonyms” you will accept to match as cognates with other languages, you can really prove any language is related to any other one. After reading the essay, Mozeson’s comparisons sound a lot less convincing.
      On another note, I was cringing at the author of the article’s summary of how English evolved. German did not “come from” Latin nor did Latin come from Greek. That’s so oversimplified that it’s simply wrong.

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