Daily Reyd

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. Re: “Tefillin Controversy Latest Sign of Emerging Orthodox Schism”, a quick skim found three fundamental errors in the article.

    1- “For decades, it has been difficult to sort out the precise dividing lines between the varieties of Orthodoxy…”

    These labels are for “gravity wells” that socially pull people toward one constellation of beliefs and attitudes or another. Actual people are scattered across the ideological space, pulled by their contacts and supporting organizations toward the wells nearest them.

    Precise lines? They simply don’t exist to be found!

    2- “In recent years, however, a visible divide has been emerging over a single issue: the role of women.”

    The issue that divides OO from the rest of MO isn’t the article’s suggestion of feminism. It’s whether the modernity we embrace includes accepting modernity’s values. The biggest example of such issues is feminism, but how we as a movement relate to homosexuals has also come into play, the entire notion of apiqursus as a major evil and other divergences between traditional Jewish values and western ones have also come into play.

    So the battle is really over whether we want “Orthodox” to mean “observes the Shulchan Arukh” (in an idiomatic sense, obviously the halakhah isn’t always like the SA) or to only include those who also take their values from the Torah. And for that matter, whether the charge that OO doesn’t is appropriate.

    RHSchachter’s take is somewhat different than what I just posited here. His objection has to do with the continuity of the culture and community who are the “parchment” of the Oral Torah. It still means limiting the concept of Orthodoxy more than halachic observance does, but in a different way.

    3- At lease an overstatement, but its wrongness undermines the whole article anyway: “The decision by SAR high school, located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, is just the latest development on this front.”

    The decision was that telling two girls from Conservative homes not to put on tefillin, or to put on tefillin elsewhere and omit them when praying in school, was a bad idea. Not that women ought to put on tefillin, but that it’s not the right battle for educating these particular girls. They even spoke to the whole student body, although I can’t find anyone who spelled out the contents of that message. There is no reason to believe it was presented as anything but “since it’s not technically assur, we aren’t fighting their upbringing on this issue.” Perhaps a mistake, but it’s not a major volley in the splitting off of OpenO.

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