Happy Twentieth Anniversary

by R. Gil Student On March 15, 2004, I started a blog that changed my life. Here we are, twenty years later. So much has happened since then and so much has changed. My son whose birth I announced here is about to graduate from high school. I only once mentioned the name of one of my other children on ...

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Soldiers Carrying Tefillin

by R. Gil Student When a soldier moves position on Shabbos, he has to carry with him his gear as a matter of self-preservation, piku’ach nefesh. What about his personal items? Can he carry his tefillin with him so he can continue fulfilling the important mitzvah on weekdays? I. Russian Soldiers Rav Yisrael Meir Kagan (the Chofetz Chaim, 20th cen., ...

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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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Killing With the Divine Name

by R. Gil Student In 1927, when Rav Ahron Soloveichik was 10 years old, he sent a letter to his older brother Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik, who at the time was studying in Berlin. The young Ahreleh wrote an impressive essay, which is recorded, along with the reactions of his father and brother, in Iggeros Ha-Grid Ha-Levi (pp. 272-275). I. ...

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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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Why Does Genocide Happen?

by R. Gil Student Genocide, the targeted killing of a people, is not a modern invention. Many have tried to kill the Jews, the biblical Haman being perhaps the most famous ancient example. Other nations have also faced genocide, some even suffering from extinction. We live in a time of great hypocrisy, when people who explicitly intend to destroy all ...

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War and Epidemics

by R. Gil Student The 1848 (5608-9) cholera epidemic has become famous in Jewish history because it was the moment when the 37-year old Rav Yisrael Salanter first took on a leadership role. Rav Dov Katz, in his Tenu’as Ha-Mussar (vol. 1, ch. 12), describes how Rav Yisrael mobilized a rescue effort, secured a 1,500 bed hospital and volunteer doctors ...

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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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