Musings

‘Diaspora Jewry’ Doesn’t Exist

by R. Gil Student I was recently privileged to participate in the third Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem, which focused on what Israel can do for Diaspora Jewry. This impressive event, run by Israel’s Government Press Office with a line-up of big-name politicians and journalists, emphasized to me a fundamental misunderstanding about the Diaspora Jewish community – namely that a ...

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Why We Disagree

by R. Gil Student I. Tradition and Disagreement The Talmud is notoriously full of disagreements. The rabbis seem to debate every minor issue, often with little practical difference. This should not be the case. The rabbis received a tradition from Sinai, learning the laws from their teachers who served as chains in the transmission from Moshe. How did so much ...

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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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Tikkun Olam’s Problems

by R. Gil Student When I first began reading Jonathan Neumann’s To Heal The World? How the Jewish Left Corrupts Judaism and Endangers Israel, I enthusiastically endorsed it on Facebook. To my surprise, that post was excerpted as a PR blurb for the book. Since then, many thoughtful reviewers have written about the book, forcing me to rethink my original ...

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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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Angels and Afterlife

by R. Gil Student I. Angels and Visions The Torah speaks explicitly about angels but gives little detail about these supernatural creatures. A debate about these biblical narratives reflects not only different understandings about the nature of angels but also about other crucial concepts. According to Jewish tradition, Avraham is visited by three angels (Gen. 18:1). Rambam (Moreh Nevukhim 2:42; ...

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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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Long Biblical Lives

by R. Gil Student The biblical lists of generations include descriptions of very long lives. For example, Adam lived 930 years (Gen. 5:5), Noach 950 (9:29), and the longest — Mesushelach 969 (5:27). How do we relate to these descriptions of longevity, well beyond anything we can expect of human beings? Two approaches emerge from Medieval Jewish commentary. I. Theories ...

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