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▪ Aside from the bitul Torah aspect: Why (you and) Peter Beinart should boycott the Super Bowl
▪ Change is slow: Lipman: A year of great progress for new politics
Rosensweig: Protecting the Vulnerable in Society: A Litmus Test for an Idealistic System of Civil Law
Every Kosher Product in Europe
Pruzansky: Open Season
▪ The Conservative movement is suffering financially, leading to further deterioration: Shul no longer a card-carrying Conservative
Halkin: Why Non-Orthodox Judaism Is Doomed
Wein: Requiem for a Movement
Lipa Schmeltzer Reaches For Broadway and Beyond
Inspiration by “Spook”: What Happened to the Am Chochom Venovon?
SAR tefillin policy just the tip of the iceberg for Orthodox women
▪ I agree with the shock at the Christianization of the synagogue, disagree with the call for the Rabbinate to change its mind: The Decision of the Chief Rabbinate Should be Rescinded
E Goldberg: Avoiding Religious Hubris

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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.


  1. Mechzei kyuhara – The prominent poseik story was R’YBS but I’ve noticed a practice lately of some men to wear tefillin at mincha (seems to be an eretz yisrael based thing).

    The honesty in the Lippa interview was refreshing, the sociology behind it is fascinating.

    The Halkin piece gives diaspora Jews a lot to chew on, especially the point about being actors and not knowing it.

    Beinart would be well served to listen to Professor Gendler on how to remove personal involvement bias from moral decisions.

    • Many of the Edot ha Mizrach have a long-standing minhag to wear tefillin at mincha time on a fast day. I used to see them doing it on fast days when I was at YU.

  2. longtimereader

    For tefilin at mincha, I wonder if the yuhara is mitigated by the opposite possibility that you missed Shacharis.

    I think Rabbi Goldberg’s article is a good start, but it’s not so simple. A big piece of yuhara analysis is “who are you?” Whereas I would clearly run afoul of yuhara if I were to start wearing 70 pairs of tzitzis, presumably Rav Sheinberg did not. This is a very difficult concept (as is yuhara with good intentions) for the contemporary teenager (and to a lesser extent adults as well) to come to terms with.

  3. With all the tumalt about SAR, not one article got it right. They do NOT have a policy allowing girls to lay tefilin. They permitted two young women who had been laying tefilin since age 12 to continue to do so in the women’s tefillah group that meets twice a week. They did so stating that it is not normative but that there is some support in halachic literature. It is not something encouraged for any other student. As the principal said “I felt it appropriate to create space at SAR for them to daven meaningfully. I explained this to our students in this way: it is a halakhically legitimate position despite it not being our common communal practice. But since there is support for it, I would be willing to create such space in the school. I did not, in so doing, create new policy nor invite any female student who wanted to don tefillin to do so. These are girls who, I believe, have been מוסר נפש (for a teen to get up at 6:20 each morning is meaningful commitment) for this מצוה. At its core, women donning Tefillin is a discretionary act in Jewish law. While our community has adopted as normative the view that women refrain from this act, I see the range of rishonim who allow women to don tefillin as support to give space to that practice within our community. One can disagree with this decision on halakhic and public policy grounds. But the position is a coherent one and deserves careful consideration….I am not committed to the idea of SAR girls putting on tefillin. I am not encouraging our girls to do so. But I am committed to having our boys and girls be able to daven in the same shul where a woman might be doing so. That when they see something different, even controversial, before deciding in which denomination it belongs, they must first take a serious look at the halakha and ask their Rabbi whether there is basis for such practice. I suspect that I would not differ much regarding normative halakha with most people in our community. But I would differ strongly with someone who thought this was cause for that person to be removed from the community – or that such practice could not be supported within the community shul. I permitted our two female students to daven with tefillin because I believe that we should not be afraid of different forms of עבודת השם when there is halakhic argument to support it. I permitted the young women to daven with tefillin because we should be proud, as a Modern Orthodox community, that we recognize the sanctity and dignity of each person and we find ways to support their spiritual growth in different ways….I have read people maligning these two fine young women with insults and false characterizations based on…nothing. It is awful; it is abominable; it is unacceptable. Two girls who are שומרי שבת וכשרות, גומלי חסד,and בנות תורה. It has been awful to watch. It is מוציא שם רע at its worst (of kids, no less). We should be proud to be stringent in recognizing the dignity of others and valuing their divine service and stringent about how we talk about others, especially children.” Or as he quoted Rabbi Adler as saying:”In a world where there are so many things that distract our teens from focusing on mitzvot, we should support teenagers who seek to strengthen their connection to Hashem and to a life of mitzvot.”

    You need not agree, but at least let’s report the reality of what SAR did and did not do and treat these young women with respect.

    Shabbat Shalom

  4. Michael:
    I’m curious whether there was any follow up to “it is a halakhically legitimate position despite it not being our common communal practice” in terms of who deemed it a halkhically legitimate position (i.e. what level of authority is required to take an existing mesorah and establish a contrary position as halachically legitimate in practice?)

    • Is a practice contrary to an “existing mesorah” when a slew of Rishonim (admittedly, mainly Sephardic) say that it is permitted and אין מוחין בידן?

      • Josh:
        I’d say so if we have 100’s of years of practice not to do it. Note I’m not saying that it couldn’t be reversed given earlier rishonim, just asking what level of authority does one need to do so?

  5. joel rich: as a prominent Mara d’atra once told me, you’re always better off getting approbation from a recognized gadol baTorah. Besides Dr. Sperber, I’m not sure who SAR could have posed the she’eyla to who would have been willing to be someikh on these Rishonim.

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