Halachah Musings

Is a Minyan Factory Kosher?

by R. Gil Student I. One Shul, Multiple Minyanim It is now common for some synagogues to hold multiple minyanim (prayer services) at different times. The most active are open nearly 24 hours a day, holding morning services every half hour, alternating rooms so there is no overlap, and afternoon and evening services every fifteen minutes. Colloquially, they are called ...

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Hearing Megillah At War

by R. Gil Student I. Five Days of Megillah Earlier this month, I was notified that the IDF Rabbinate faces a shortage of Megillah scrolls. There are a number of ways to handle this, including paying scribes to quickly write more megillos. I would like to explore here an option that should be lower on this list. Of course, safety ...

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The Kohen Soldier

by R. Gil Student Kohanim are the descendants of Aharon, the priests of our people. In past eras, a kohen had a special role in the nation. Even today, a kohen retains certain privileges and obligations, such as being called first to the Torah and not allowed to enter cemeteries. The question arose during World War I how far these ...

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Scientific Experimentation on Trees

by R. Gil Student In their first three years, trees produce fruit that are orlah, which we are forbidden to eat or derive any benefit from them. We exhibit the important trait of patience in order to give the tree time to grow and strengthen, delaying our own gratification until after the tree is ready and we have thanked God ...

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May We Pray for IDF Soldiers on Shabbos?

by R. Gil Student In 1438, a great meeting of German rabbis was convened in Nuremberg during which the rabbis issued a number of communal enactments. During the Shabbos prayers, R. Nosson of Eiger, a senior rabbi who had taught many of the rabbis in attendance, wished to say a prayer for someone who was sick. His student, R. Ya’akov ...

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Jewish Soldiers and the War Divorce

by R. Gil Student Soldiers go out to war and do not know if they will return. If the worst happens and they do not return, their wives cannot remarry without proof of death. To avoid the possibility of widespread agunah problems, for centuries if not longer, Jewish soldiers have divorced their wives before leaving. The exact nature of this ...

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Chanukah in the IDF

by R. Gil Student How does a soldier light Chanukah candles? There is an important rabbinic commandment to light Chanukah candles (really, lights) for all eight nights of Chanukah. Normally, we light in our homes, either in the window or right outside the door. When a soldier is at an army base, he can light there without worry. But what ...

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Waging War on Shabbos

by R. Gil Student Religious Jews violate Shabbos in response to even a life threatening situation. Religious soldiers fight war 24/7 in order to protect lives. This is widely understood nowadays. But was it always accepted that we may wage war on Shabbos? Some claim that this religious permission arose only in the time of the Second Temple, during the ...

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Religious Inspiration in Response to Crisis

by R. Gil Student I. Aliyah in Response to Crisis We learn from Ya’akov that the common response to danger, to plead with God, is proper. People promise to become better if they or their loved ones survive the crisis. They genuinely grow in religious devotion. Sometimes this growth lasts and sometimes it disappears as life returns to normal. If ...

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Leaving Israel During War

by R. Gil Student I. Danger in Yeshiva? It is now common for many American yeshiva students to spend a “gap year” in Israel after high school. This year usually fosters religious growth through intense study in a specialized environment. Since war began in Israel over Sukkos, due to a horrific terrorist attack, every student in Israel for a gap ...

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