New Periodical: Tradition Spring 2015

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imageNew issue of Tradition (48:1, Spring 2015):

  • “All For The Best”: A Modern Orthodox Man Who Fell Among Hasidim and the Urbach-Sanders Debate by R. Shalom Carmy – On the need to feel the divine presence, to acquire a language of day-to-day encounter with God
  • “And Upon All the Gods of Egypt I Will Execute Judgment”: The Egyptian Deity in the Ten Plagues by Ira Friedman – Arguing that the Ten Plagues were aimed at the Egyptian deity Sekhmet, and through her to the entire pantheon
  • Grape Juice: The Solution to Prohibition by Yaakov Weinstein – The historical debate over whether grape juice can be considered wine for religious purposes. Interesting that after a Conservative scholar rules leniently, the Orthodox rabbinic community generally refused to budge. It was only a generation later, when it was no longer a denominational issue, that leading Orthodox rabbis were willing to rule leniently.
  • The Get of Zefat by R. J. David Bleich – An exhaustive critique of the widely reported divorce given on behalf of a man in an apparently vegetative state.
  • An American Tale by R. Zev Eleff – Review of new histories of Reform and Conservative, and the implications for Orthodox readers.
  • Communications – R. Eliezer Finkelman cautions R. Shalom Carmy about being too quick to draw communal boundaries. R. Carmy does not back down and writes an important response that despite “blurry borders,” there is still an “unmistakable abandonment of ikkarei emunah.” He adds that “in the present milieu the term ‘post-Orthodox’ seems to describe adequately the views of those who have relinquished Orthodoxy, who do not wish to mislead others, but who do not dissociate themselves from crucial elements in their Orthodox education.”

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of, 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 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. RE: Grape juice, my grandfather a”h said that growing up in NJ in the 20’s and 30’s everyone drank Welch’s grape juice, made a shehakol on it and it never occurred to anyone to make kiddush on grape juice.

  2. Ye’yasher kochakhem R. Student and R’ Moshe Shoshan.

    Interestingly, there is a Torah Musings dimension to the PVS get, and I would like to elaborate on it, as follows.

    Before R. Bleich published his brilliant disquisition in the present edition of Tradition, R. Broyde addressed the same subject in Ḥakirah Vol. 18 (Winter 2014), with a tentative conclusion to validate the PVS get. To that effect, R. Broyde quoted an insight he had previously published on Torah Musings.

    Specifically, on pp. 89-90 of his article, R. Broyde invokes R. Moshe Feinstein, Iggerot Mosheh, Yoreh De’ah I, no. 101, who writes that that we should not hesitate to rely on novel insights to resolve problems of iggun. R. Broyde argues that this is relevant to the PVS agunah.

    However, with all due respect to R. Broyde, I would counter-argue that the case of iggun described by R. Feinstein is where both the husband and wife are equally suffering the same iggun; viz. the wife cannot immerse in a mikveh (unless a novel reasoning is discovered within the Oral Torah to permit it), thereby preventing both husband and wife from experiencing normal marital life. That is fundamentally different from an adversarial case of iggun where the interests of the wife to dissolve the marriage are potentially at odds with the interests of the husband to maintain the marriage. In an adversarial case, we have no jurisprudential ability to say “since it is an emergency, let us favor the wife over the husband out of pity for the wife,” since Exodus 23:3 forbids favoring a poor litigant in a dispute. Indeed, it is presumably for this reason that [prior to R. Isaac Liebes’ discussion of the 1992 New York Get Law] it was unprecedented for any posek to rely on a minority opinion in a time of emergency regarding any bein adam la-ḥaveiro dispute. After all, just as there is an emergency for one litigant, so too is there an emergency for the countervailing litigant. [See, footnotes 34 and 37.]

    Thus, I believe that R. Feinstein’s wording ve-khol she-ken be-mekom iggun ke-gon uvda zu [which R. Broyde translates as “and certainly in cases of chaining a Jewish woman”] could be alternatively translated as “and certainly in cases of a married couple being unable to cohabit.” I would claim that R. Feinstein’s responsum is irrelevant to cases of a chained woman, where a posek must instead employ traditional criteria if he is to potentially rule against a husband’s interests in order to dissolve a marriage.

    To that effect, this distinction between two kinds of iggun actually emerges from R. Yom Tov ha-Levi Schwarz, Ma‘aneh la-Iggerot, no. 123, where he critiques the very responsum of R. Feinstein being marshalled by R. Broyde. R. Schwarz objects that R. Feinstein seems to have overlooked R. Ezekiel Landau, Teshuvot Noda bi-Yehudah, Mahadura Tinyana, Even ha-Ezer no. 75, who is careful not to allow a lady to marry (where there is a halakhic question that perhaps she has already received kiddushin from someone else, and so the woman is potentially chained) before he discovers seven different grounds on which to be lenient. Moreover, continues R. Schwarz, R. Feinstein seems to have overlooked a subsequent responsum, viz. idem., no. 129, where R. Landau is careful not to allow a lady to remarry (when a question was asked regarding the validity of her get, such that the woman is potentially chained) before he discovers seven different grounds on which to be lenient, and – in this latest case – only after two other poskim will independently concur. Surely, argues R. Schwarz, we see from these two [and independent] responsa of R. Landau that jurisprudential creativity is inappropriate for managing cases of iggun!

    In fact, we may now answer in R. Feinstein’s defense that R. Feinstein did not overlook R. Landau’s responsa; rather, R. Feinstein was addressing iggun where the husband and wife are equally affected (viz. it is a question of allowing the lady to immerse in a mikveh), as we have explained. R. Landau, by contradistinction, is addressing iggun where the wife is chained by the husband, and where more conservative grounds to free the wife must be discovered if the lady is to be authorized to remarry.

    So, I am arguing to support to R. Bleich’s conclusion, though – at the same time – I recognize that R. Broyde is a ẓaddik gammur, and I applaud him on his article, which has expanded the horizons of Torah study.

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