Author Archives: 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 has served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently 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.

Blau on the Prowl II

Now you know how I had access to an early copy of the new issue of The Torah U-Mada Journal and knew that R. Yitzi Blau tears apart some letter-writers. I give in. He’s right and I’m wrong.

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Devastation and Death

My heart goes out to those affected by the terrible disaster that occurred this weekend. Frankly, I don’t know what to say or do. I am just blown away by the enormity of the tragedy.

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The Ordination of Women

There are currently two main types of semikhah. One is called a heter hora’ah and the other has no real name but is colloquially referred to as a rabbi’s driver’s license. The former is a license to issue halakhic rulings. The latter is essentially a letter stating that the holder is worthy of holding the title rabbi and being a ...

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Ta’us Akum

I spent this past Shabbos in the heart of Brooklyn, attending a popular Agudath Israel synagogue. On Friday night, the rabbi, an up-and-coming figure in the Agudah world and a very popular speaker, related to the entire congregation the following question he was recently asked: Someone had bought a new computer and it arrived functioning less than perfectly. He called ...

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Jacob the Eternal Forefather

Is Ya’akov Avinu still alive? From the way some describe it, he is even though the Torah says that he died. See here (PDF) and here (PDF) for lengthy citations of standard commentators who state that Ya’akov Avinu did die, as the Torah states.

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The Truth Shall Set You Free

When I started this blog, there was a genuine reason for writing it under a pseudonym. However, that reason is long gone and the fake anonymity — most readers already know my real name — is getting tiresome. From here on, the pseudonym Simcha is being retired.

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Jesus in the Parashah

The following is from Nitzahon Yashan, translated by Dr. David Berger as The Jewish-Christian Debate in the High Middle Ages, p. 60: A certain apostate argued that the Hebrew verse, “Until Shilo comes and to him…” (ad ki yavo Shilo ve-lo [Gen. 49:10]) contains an acrostic for Jesus (Yeshu). The answer to this is in the very same verse, for ...

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Mathematical Proof of God

Denis Diderot (1713-1784) was a self-important philosophe who arrogantly thought he knew everything. This story is one of my favorite anecdotes. It is taken from The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, p. 168: In 1773 Diderot spent some months at the court of St. Petersburg at the invitation of the Russian empress, Catherine the Great. He passed much of his ...

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Debunking the Kuzari Proof

Rabbi Micha Berger (I, II) takes on the Kuzari proof for the truth of the Jewish tradition. He argues that it is not what the author of the Kuzari meant, simply illogical and contradicted by historical examples. Remember when faith was enough and we didn’t feel the need to prove our religion to be correct?

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Gloves on Shabbos

As the winter approaches, it is worth reviewing the little-known rules about wearing gloves on Shabbos. The Shibbolei Ha-Leket (107) writes that it is best not to wear gloves because it is very common for someone, while walking in public, to automatically remove a glove in order to scratch or otherwise use one’s hand. At that moment, one would be ...

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