Musings

Do I Have To Reply?

by R. Gil Student The days of carefully crafted letters are long gone. In this age of hyper-connectivity, people receive many emails, voicemails, WhatsApps, comments, notifications and more. Does courtesy require that we reply to every contact? In 19th century Turkey, Rav Chaim Palaggi wrote emphatically about the obligation to reply to letters. In his Tokhachas Chaim (Miketz), he says ...

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Torah Is The Air We Breathe

by R. Gil Student Throughout the pandemic, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has singled out the Jewish community for violating “stay-at-home” orders. Now, although Jews still face severe restrictions on religious gatherings after months without access to synagogues, he has permitted protesters to gather in the thousands and break social distancing guidelines. Why do political protests deserve special ...

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Funding the Police

by R. Gil Student Protesters around the country are calling to defund the police. This offers us an opportunity to discuss the halakhically required funding for police. At the beginning of the State of Israel, halakhic scholars analyzed the necessity of maintaining a police force, particularly regarding whether police officers may violate Shabbos for their work but also their necessity ...

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Three Brief Reviews

In the Summer 2020 issue of Jewish Action, due out shortly (this article is a sneak peek), I review the following three books: The Laws of Outreach by R. Avraham Edelstein Cherished Conversations With Gedolei Yisroel by R. Dov Eliach Conflict and Resolution in the Early Prophets by R. Allen Schwartz The Laws of Outreach The ascendancy of a confident ...

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Yeshiva Tuition and Coronavirus

by R. Gil Student To our great sadness, the societal shutdown due to Coronavirus also closed yeshivos. The government rightly insisted that all schools cease in-class teaching. Schools transitioned to remote learning for abbreviated hours, with parents taking a greater role in watching their children and ensuring they join the class. With shorter hours and a greater parental role, many ...

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Accounting for a Minyan

by R. Gil Student Can we count for a minyan a man who has stolen from the government? I. Theft, Lying and Chillul Hashem Rav Hershel Schachter (“Dina De’malchusa Dina” in the first issue of The Journal of Contemporary Halacha and Society) expresses the majority opinion that the rule of dina d’malchusa dina—the law of the land is the law—applies ...

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The Long Seudah Shelishis

by R. Gil Student (picture above: Rav Mordechai Marcus on left, at my son’s bris in 1999. On the right is my wife’s grandfather, R’ Shalom Herman.)   I. Two Types of Rabbis Rav Mordechai Marcus zt”l was a giant of Torah and midos. He had Shas and Poskim at his fingertips, which he unfailingly accessed with an accompanying self-deprecating ...

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Singing Torah

by R. Gil Student Twenty five years ago, when my first child was born, I asked Rav Meyer Scheinberg zt”l the following question: If the baby wakes up crying in the middle of the night, and I wake up and try to calm her by singing a song that consists of Torah content, do I need to recite Birkos Ha-Torah, ...

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The Shavuos Get

by R. Gil Student On Shavuos 1831, a man in Brody, Galicia lay deathly ill. Rav Eliezer Landau, grandson of the famous Noda Bi-Yehudah and author of the Yad Ha-Melekh commentary on the Rambam, had an idea that would save this childless man’s impoverished soon-to-be widow from being unable to remarry unless she made the improbable journey to Rome in ...

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Demographics, Terumah and Ingathering of the Exiles

by R. Gil Student The status today of the terumah portion of produce allotted to kohanim, as well as other agricultural mitzvos, is a story of population growth as well as a perplexing Maimonidean statement. Most agricultural mitzvos today are of rabbinic nature. One wonders about the contemporary impact of the Talmudic statement (Sotah 14a) that Moshe was desperate to ...

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