Happy Twentieth Anniversary

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by R. Gil Student

On March 15, 2004, I started a blog that changed my life. Here we are, twenty years later. So much has happened since then and so much has changed. My son whose birth I announced here is about to graduate from high school. I only once mentioned the name of one of my other children on the blog when he was eight and asked me a question. I recently had the opportunity to forward that post to his father-in-law. I posted quite a few eulogies for family members and bar mitzvah speeches. It’s hard to believe that the daughter at whose bas mitzvah I gave this speech is ba”h now expecting her fourth child. Believe it or not, the original website where it all started, which we left in 2010, is still up: Hirhurim.Blogspot.com.

It’s been a long journey and so many people have been part of it. These include the many writers who contributed essays (you can see a list here), the many commenters who made this a gathering place of scholars, the editorial board that has helped steer this ship for the past 11 years, and above all my wife, who has tolerated all of this with incredible patience and grace.

I put together a memory board so people can share their thoughts and memories from the past 20 years. I often hear from rabbis and other leaders about how they read Hirhurim “back in the day,” which of course varies depending on their age. Please share your stories and memories here: link.

While the authoritative history of Hirhurim-Torah Musings will appear in my forthcoming book, I shared some preliminary thoughts with longtime reader and commenter, Michael Feldstein, which appears in this week’s Jewish Link:

This week, “Hirhu­rim”—one of the very first blogs in the Orthodox Jewish world—will mark its 20th anniversary. Founded by Rabbi Gil Student, the blog was ranked as the best Jewish religion blog in 2005 by the Jerusalem Post and has attracted a very wide range of readers from all denominations in the Jewish world.

Rabbi Student is the book editor for the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action and serves as a member of its editorial committee. He is currently serving as the director of the Halacha Commission at the Rabbinical Alliance of America and is a member of the RCA’s executive board.

I had an opportunity to interview Student about his blog, in which he reflects on the contributions he has made in the last two decades to Torah learning on the Internet.

Why did you start “Hirhurim?” What were your main objectives in developing the site?

I started “Hirhurim” in order to promote and argue in favor of Orthodox halachic positions in contrast to those promoted by non-Orthodox writers. There were non-Orthodox views in the blog space, and I wanted to add an Orthodox view. I found traction in discussing contemporary issues from the perspective of classical halacha and hashkafa, citing relevant sources throughout the generations in an accessible way. All along, I recognized that some readers do not share my yeshiva background, so I tried to write for a broad audience. The blog gained popularity, thanks in no small part to the passionate and educated commenters who joined the conversation. This encouraged me to continue writing, sometimes on current events, sometimes on issues that I think are interesting, all based on detailed sources and arguments….

Continued here

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. Mazal tov to Rav Gil and friends. I am a frequent reader but never previously registered to comment. May you continue to grow and share Torah in this wonderful way

  2. I’ve been commenting since the very beginning. If the old haloscan comments are archived, you’ll see DF frequently. You’ve read my articles in many forums, and have probably unwittingly published me too, but I’m sticking with ‘ol DF, at least for now. Happy Anniversary! (Love the Flintstones bit.) A few comments about the article:

    1) It’s not true, at all, that “the interesting conversations moved to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.” None of those platforms ever made a big dent in the orthodox world, which was always much more geared to the website/blog vehicle. Even in the secular world FB and Instagram are already fading, and have found themselves limited to a specific generational bracket. Just think: Where did the anniversary article appear, and where am I commenting? (Hint: Not on any of those three.)

    2) You were right that hirhurim was jolted into prominence in large part because of commenters. The fact is, people dont read articles if there’s no meaningful opportunity to interact with the writer. Even here I dont come so often, because the commenting platform is terrible, with onerous password requirements. [That’s probably why the commenter above me never registered – whaddaya gotta “register” for?] People read Slifkin’s blog, not because he has anything good to say, but because he has a proper commenting platform and engages with his readers. Compare him with, eg, Avi Shafran, who doesnt allow comments, and who consequently ceased decades ago to be a significant voice.

    More to say, but that’s enough for now. In the meantime – here’s to the next twenty. Hatzlacha!

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