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. I don’t think 12 Step programs give a good model for teshuvah.

    They reflect AA’s origins in the Oxford Groups, a Protestant fellowship. It is presumed that man cannot redeem himself, and must turn to God for salvation. (See steps 2, 3, 6, and 7.)

    As Rav Dessler put it, many decisions in life are beyond the “nequdas habechirah”, the battlefront where conflicting urges force the choice into conscious decisionmaking. In these cases, our minds are made up preconsciously, and free will isn’t really involved. For example, most of us do not consciously choose not to steal a coworker’s coat from the coatroom. The thought never crosses the mind. There are people, though, for whom this is a conscious decision. I hear there are people who do not consciously choose to state their income honestly to the IRS, cheating on taxes never cross their mind. I also know there are people who never consciously choose not to fib a little, being strictly honest was never on the table.

    Addiction, kind of by definition, lays beyond the
    Rav Dessler put it) the nequdas habechirah. And so, we do need to ask G-d to take over. But for character changes in general, it is more Christian then Jewish to give ownership of the job over to G-d. Asking him for help, yes, for the right situations that would make my growth easier. But to give the problem over to Him?

    (I admit that “more Xian than Jewish” line is an overstatement, and that forms of Chassidus such as Breslov and Izhbitz would disagree. Still, in my opinion, it doesn’t feel Jewish; even if that opinion isn’t universal.)

  2. We Daven numerous times daily that God should allow us to overcome temptation and bring us closer to Him. The Gemara (end of Kidushin) says one shouldn’t be overconfident and mock the Yetzer Hara, but should pray that Hashem save us from the Yetzer Hara. The Gemara also says (I think in Sukkah) that “Without Hashem’s help, we would not be able to overcome” the Yetzer Hara. So seems pretty Jewish too me.

    • Asking for help, yes. Asking for Him to own the problem, not so much.

      Really the only way I could see making peace with 12 Step Programming as an Orthodox Jew would be to define “Higher Power” that redeems not as G-d, but as the Beris He entered into with us.

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