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.

Torah and Popular Culture

Torah U-Mada is one of those terms that means different things to different people. Dr. Lamm, in his classic book of that name, offers a number of different models for Torah U-Mada. One model that does not get much respect is that of Torah and popular culture. What can be valuable in popular culture? After all, it is just shmutz, ...

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The Hazards of Leading

Steven I. Weiss, in his latest blog The Canonist, directs readers to a website named that has pictures depicting just how tough it is to be a Jewish leader. The subject of the signs in the picture to the left is none other than R. Aharon Leib Shteinman, great talmudic scholar from Bnei Brak and heir to R. Elazar ...

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Praying for the Right Thing II

Marvin Schick: I care not about what titles or offices they hold. Those who in veiled and sometimes not so veiled language say that Israel’s Prime Minister can be killed because he wants to withdraw from Gaza or other territory should be arrested and put on trial.

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The “Missing” Nun in Psalm 145

R. Shalom Carmy in “The Manufacture of Sulphurous Acid: Of Wisdom as a Catalyst in Torah Study” in Wisdom From All My Teachers, pp. 79-80: Psalm 145 (widely known as “Ashrei” after the verses that preface it in liturgical usage) is an alphabetical acrostic. The verse corresponding to the letter nun is missing. The simple explanation is that the acrostic ...

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When I was in yeshiva, there was a particularly crass youg man running for student government president who was garnering the menuval vote. The evening before the election, the mashgi’ah went into the beis medrash and gave a short speech. Without endorsing any candidate (which would have been inappropriate for a faculty member), he simply reminded students that if they ...

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Washing at Weddings and Elsewhere

One is not allowed, at least ab initio, to wait a long time between washing for bread and eating the bread. Nor is one allowed to leave one building and enter another even if done quickly. (See Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayim 161 and commentators.) This leads to a familiar dilemma at weddings where the washing station is frequently across the ...

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Triumph of a Leniency

My synagogue rents a room in a local yeshiva (elementary school), right near the building’s catering hall. This week there was a bar mitzvah in the catering hall. On Thursday night, the father of the bar mitzvah called up my rabbi asking for help. It seems that his father, the grandfather of the bar mitzvah boy, has great difficulty walking ...

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Praying for the Right Thing

R. Mayer Twersky preaches against praying for or desiring the death of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Recently, there have been reports in the press of individuals wishing for the death of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. By no means am I assuming the veracity of such reports. (Moreover, even these reports attribute such malevolent wishes to an isolated few.) Thus ...

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Candy on Halloween II

Reader Chana Luntz sent me the following in an e-mail (posted with permission). My original post will be italicized. Her comments will be indented, mine not. When I first saw this, many years ago, I pointed out to R. Broyde that according to Tosafos in Avodah Zarah (26a), eivah only allows one to violate a rabbinic prohibition and not a ...

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Thought vs. Philosophy

Jewish scholarship has had many great thinkers throughout the ages, many of whom have pondered and explored the standard existential and metaphysical questions of philosophy. Would it be correct to refer to them as philosophers? For example, was R. Eliyahu Dessler a Jewish philosopher or merely a Jewish thinker? (For those wondering, I have no serious answer to the question ...

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