Halachah Musings

The Siege of Beirut

by R. Gil Student In the summer of 1982, the Israeli army placed a siege on Beirut in a successful attempt to force the PLO out of Lebanon. On August 6th, then Chief Rabbi of Israel Rav Shlomo Goren published an article in the newspaper Hatzofeh in which he argued that, according to Jewish law, the siege must allow terrorists to escape the city. ...

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Kaddish For An Extended Relative

by R. Gil Student Most Jews of all backgrounds recognize the custom to recite Kaddish for a parent and attempt to observe it, even if only partially. However, the recitation of Kaddish is sometimes appropriate for a relative other than a parent. In this brief essay, we will examine the background of this practice and its practical implications. I. Kaddish ...

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Texts: A Prayer For the Sick

by R. Gil Student The Mi She–beirakh for sick people is a common feature of Shabbos morning services. In many synagogues, people line up to give names of sick people to the gabbai who recites the prayer. However, the practice is questionable. In the text below, Rav Ya’akov (Mahari) Weil (15th cen., Germany) argues that it is forbidden to pray ...

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Treifing Food

by R. Gil Student The laws of kashrus are simple to observe in general but extremely complicated in specifics. That is why you ask your rabbi when you have a question. What if someone renders your food non-kosher? You are cooking a meat meal and someone pours milk into it, rendering it completely forbidden. You must throw the food out ...

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Texts: Nursing in Public

by R. Gil Student The propriety of nursing in public has been a matter of contention in recent years. Even if a woman covers herself completely, is it modest to nurse a baby in front of non-family members? Rav Shlomo Aviner (Responsa She’eilas Shlomo 2:339) quotes an unnamed scholar who says that nursing in public, even if fully covered, constitutes ...

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Texts: Abortion As Murder

A few months ago, political commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted that according to Judaism, abortion is murder. This led to criticism from one rabbi as overly simplistic and then defense by another, who showed that both Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik called abortion murder. Below is a report from Rav Ya’akov Kamenetsky’s 1970 Shabbos Shuvah derashah, in which ...

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Support Your Wife

by R. Gil Student I. Working Hard or Hardly Working? The rise of women’s work opportunities over the past decades beyond previous levels has allowed for a number of family work arrangements. Many even argue that an Orthodox family today requires both parents earning salaries. On the other side of the spectrum, others in the Orthodox community insist that the ...

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Texts: The Shabbos Project

by R. Gil Student This is the first of a new occasional series in which I post interesting texts with a brief introduction. These texts will not be representative of a balanced view but merely interesting statements or views for your files. Consider it a pictorial footnote. This is less formal than the usual Torah Musings material, a bit bloggy. ...

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Murder in a Synagogue

by R. Gil Student I. Desecration Over the past few decades, the Jewish people has experienced an extraordinary number of terrorist attacks. While all evoke great pain over the loss, two stand out as carrying unique significance. In 2014, a terrorist entered a synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem and killed people who were praying, including the great ...

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Marrying Against Parents’ Wishes

by R. Gil Student A child‘s obligation to honor his parents necessarily infringes on that child’s freedom. If you always want to obey your parents, the mitzvah does not add much. Choosing a spouse is one of the most important decisions of a person’s life. On the one hand, parental input is never needed more than in such life-altering decisions. ...

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