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. Joseph Kaplan

    Gil, you gotta come back to Teaneck. Your experiences will be quite different — and better! 🙂

  2. Joseph Kaplan

    Re the “adultery list”. Assume the facts are correct — i.e., she was never given a chance at the get hearing to address the adultery accusation — what options does she have other than to go to court? The rabbis — again assuming the facts are correct — have already shown their lack of concern for fairness, equity and due process.

    • The court should have no jurisdiction. If I am treated unfairly by the US courts, I have no recourse other than to appeal to higher US courts. Why should rabbinic courts be treated differently?

  3. R. Gil: “If I am treated unfairly by the US courts, I have no recourse other than to appeal to higher US courts.” Not at all. Litigants in state court often seek removal to the parallel federal court. Prisoners in state court often petition for writs of habeas corpus in federal district court. I think your issue is that you don’t like the idea of rabbinical courts being a part of the state judicial apparatus. There’s an easy fix for that, you know ….

  4. MiMedinat HaYam

    According to the article, she doesn’t dispute the adultery accusation. Her only complaint is the way it was done. Others are the ones complaining about the database.

    Probably illegal under EU law, but databases of this type (not this specific claim, but privacy invading databases) are kept by the court systems nationwide, and try here to get access to it.

  5. What do you mean by “in your experience”? R. Moshe Feinstein’s opinion is normative in non-Zionist shuls and far from normative in others. Yeshiva University has flown the Israeli flag since the 1920’s at least (including in some of the places davened in), and its guiding figure (the Rav) stated that the Israeli flag had kedusha.

    I will quibble with the author’s point about the moon. All nations of the world are barred by treaty from claiming any of outer space, including the moon; the placing of the flag had the same significance as, say, the placing of a British flag on Mount Everest when said mountain is clearly the territory of China and Nepal.

  6. “guiding figure (the Rav) stated that the Israeli flag had kedusha”

    Re R. Moshe Feinstein’s psak-to the best of my recollection the shul–Maimonides minyan–that the Rav went to in Boston/Brookline did not have any flags inside.
    One can be very pro the medina and be opposed to having ANY flags inside a shul.

  7. Joseph Kaplan

    The issue is not whether one should have a flag in shul. The issue is whether Rav Moshe’s position that the Israeli flag is “nonsense” is “normative.” And for anyone who follows the Rav’s position the answer is clearly no, flag in Maimonidies or not.

    • I was thinking less in terms of “nonsense” or shul placement and more in terms of whether the flag has kedushah.

    • I think you can slice the question much thinner than that:

      1- What is the relationship between symbol and symbolized, map and territory, flag and country?

      1a- Even if they are tightly coupled, does the state being represented have qedushah to lend the flag?

      1b- Are they loosely enough coupled for honoring a flag to qualify as stupidity? (I presume patriotism for a non-holy entity isn’t stupid; eg RMF’s own loyalty to the US because it is a medinah shel chesed.)

      2- Would the flag have qedushah for other reasons, such as the Rav’s “clothing of the martyred” position?

      3- Does the flag belong in shul? Which is a different question if you think it does or doesn’t have qedushah, but either way can be asked. After all, we make a point of distancing ourselves from symbols and pictures during worship, but OTOH we do allow food (something else unrelated to the actual worship) in a beis medrash.

      3a- Would it make a difference whether the shul is a beis kenesses or the more common beis medrash?

      3b- Is it there to symbolize fealty (which I do think is the usual intent; in which case, dual loyalty accusations can be proven on many a duchan) or to remind us of things to thank G-d for?

      • “we make a point of distancing ourselves from symbols and pictures during worship”

        Is there a single shul on the planet that doesn’t have some symbol on the parochet, bima cover, or walls? There are trees (very problematic halakhically), lions, pictures of rabbis, of the Kotel, and Stars of David even in the most Charedi places.

      • Joseph Kaplan

        From a historical context, my recollection is that when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s most MO/YI type shuls had both an American and Israeli flag on the duchan as did schools on the stage in their auditorium. I don’t know about schools but I very rarely see flags in shul any longer.

  8. Joseph Kaplan

    If the rabbinical court had given her a hearing on the adultery question (which btw she did not admit, she merely did not respond to) I would agree that she should appeal it through the rabbinical court system. But, assuming the facts in the article are correct, since she had no hearing but rather there was some type of star chamber proceeding going on, there is no legitimate “judicial” proceeding to appeal. If the rabbis act like a mob they don’t deserve the respect that judges should get.

    • I see no reason to believe that the rabbis acted like a mob. Newspaper reports have severe limitations.

      • Joseph Kaplan

        You made an observation based on the facts in the article. Similarly, I was/am disagreeing with that observation based on the facts in the article. If those facts are correct you think the Supreme Court should not get involved. Based on those facts, I think the rabbis acted like a mob and not a court and it’s appropriate for a real court to get involved.

        • I am not so quick to believe the JUDGMENTS in the article, even if the facts are all complete and accurate, which they probably are not. Did they have enough evidence that her testimony was unnecessary — for example, videotape and witnesses, or maybe also the paramour’s? If so, they did not act like a mob.
          There should be an appeal process but only within the system. If the system really is crooked then start making arrests.

  9. MiMedinat HaYam

    Answering R Gil’s last comment: It’s only a notice to future mesadrei kiddushin to look into certain issues. Thus it has an automatic appeal of sorts.

    The problem of weird databases remains, but that’s an institutional issue, not a case specific issue.

  10. You still haven’t explained what you mean by RMF’s ruling being normative in your experience?

  11. If one reads the tshuva (O”C 1:46) the term “nonsense” was on both the US and Israeli flags (in the context of why one can daven and shouldn’t break away from a shul that has both of them).

    I’d also guess that “One of Feinstein’s grandchildren also stated that the Rabbi had expressed, privately, regret over his previous attitude toward the Israeli flag” was going on
    שו”ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק א סימן מו

    ואף שאלו שעשו זה לדגל וסימן למדינת ישראל היו רשעים,

    all in all, read the tshuva for the real context and imho you’ll come away with a different understanding than the article might give.

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