Halachah Musings

Holiday Parties

by R. Gil Student I’ve often heard rabbis speak about office holiday parties as if they are obviously and unequivocally forbidden and it’s troubled me. I’m not quite sure what the big deal is but I’m also not certain that all rabbis understand the varying circumstances. For some people, missing a holiday has no career impact. For others, it might. ...

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Chanukah Lights: How Long?

by R. Gil Student Often, when social circumstances change significantly from the past, some people automatically assume that Jewish law must change. Others summarily dismiss the suggestion that the law will ever change. Both approaches are incorrect. Rather, these matters require careful and sensitive analysis by the leading scholars to determine the nature of the law and whether the change ...

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Women and Kiddush

by R. Gil Student Do women have to say kiddush in shul after Shabbos morning services? For a variety of reasons, often people do not hear the rabbi saying kiddush in shul. Since they are not allowed to eat until hearing kiddush, some bold individual has to take the initiative and recite kiddush. In shuls that have a separate kiddush ...

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Is The Torah Against Women’s Pictures?

by R. Gil Student The recent trend in some Orthodox media to refrain from publishing pictures of women, or even to digitally remove women from pictures, raises questions from many perspectives. Is it dishonest to offer only a partial portrayal of the community? Is it disrespectful of women to omit their images? Does this send a confusing message to our ...

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The Women’s Section

by R. Gil Student In many Orthodox synagogues, women’s sections are poorly maintained. Whether it’s the lighting, the cleanliness, the availability of siddurim and tissues, air conditioning, or any other number of small and large issues. What are the halakhic implications of the state of discomfort and disrepair of a women’s section? Let’s first note that the often reluctant volunteers ...

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Can We Honor Women?

by R. Gil Student Every year, synagogues, schools and organizations honor people for their contributions and accomplishments. Is it appropriate to honor women or does this violate the norms of modesty? Of course, practice has a voice in this matter and many of these institutions already honor women. Let’s look at it from a different perspective. Often, when a married ...

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Can Women See?

by R. Gil Student The architectures of women’s sections in Orthodox synagogues differ greatly, offering widely varying experiences for women. The mechitzah which divides the men’s and women’s sections and the situation of the women’s section sometimes allow women to see all the way to the front. Sometimes the divider only allows a few women to see and other times ...

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Home Fires in Jewish Law: A Study in Halakhic Change

by R. Gil Student I remember once as a teenager walking with some friends one Friday night in our small suburb. We somehow got to talking with gentile (African American) teenagers around our age who were also walking at that time. We explained some of the rules we follow and one asked us: “So if you find a twenty dollar ...

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The 9/11 Memorial and Jewish Law

by R. Gil Student As a New York resident who worked in Manhattan on September 11, 2001, I will forever be haunted by the tragic day and its aftermath. However, visitors and future generations, including my own children, need more than personal memories. The 9/11 memorial and museum are intended to provide that. An article in First Things by Catesby ...

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Superheroes in Jewish Thought and Law III

by R. Gil Student (Continued from here) V. Shape Changing Some superheroes have the ability to alter their appearance, change their actual physical shape. Can someone with such power change his shape on Shabbos? One concern is coloring. You are not allowed to change something’s color on Shabbos, including that of a person. Putting on lipstick, generally speaking, is a ...

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