Musings

Jewish Soldiers and the War Divorce

by R. Gil Student Soldiers go out to war and do not know if they will return. If the worst happens and they do not return, their wives cannot remarry without proof of death. To avoid the possibility of widespread agunah problems, for centuries if not longer, Jewish soldiers have divorced their wives before leaving. The exact nature of this ...

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Three Brief Reviews

In the Winter 2023 issue of Jewish Action, I review the following three books: Yedias HaTorah Step by Step: A Practical Guide to Retaining Your Learning by Rabbi Dovid Schoonmaker  The Halachic Haircutting Handbook: A Breakthrough Exposure of an Obscure Mitzvah (Second Edition) by Rabbi Chaim and Binyamin Jachter DNA in Halakhah by Rabbi J. David Bleich Yedias HaTorah Step by ...

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Chanukah and Prayer for IDF Soldiers

by R. Gil Student I. Praying for a Soldier We pray for a time when there will be no more war. We also pray that until that time arrives, our soldiers return from the battlefield to their families and their lives. Is this prayer allowed? On a theological level, does the prayer make sense? Every soldier has loved ones who ...

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Chanukah in the IDF

by R. Gil Student How does a soldier light Chanukah candles? There is an important rabbinic commandment to light Chanukah candles (really, lights) for all eight nights of Chanukah. Normally, we light in our homes, either in the window or right outside the door. When a soldier is at an army base, he can light there without worry. But what ...

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Waging War on Shabbos

by R. Gil Student Religious Jews violate Shabbos in response to even a life threatening situation. Religious soldiers fight war 24/7 in order to protect lives. This is widely understood nowadays. But was it always accepted that we may wage war on Shabbos? Some claim that this religious permission arose only in the time of the Second Temple, during the ...

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Religious Inspiration in Response to Crisis

by R. Gil Student I. Aliyah in Response to Crisis We learn from Ya’akov that the common response to danger, to plead with God, is proper. People promise to become better if they or their loved ones survive the crisis. They genuinely grow in religious devotion. Sometimes this growth lasts and sometimes it disappears as life returns to normal. If ...

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Leaving Israel During War

by R. Gil Student I. Danger in Yeshiva? It is now common for many American yeshiva students to spend a “gap year” in Israel after high school. This year usually fosters religious growth through intense study in a specialized environment. Since war began in Israel over Sukkos, due to a horrific terrorist attack, every student in Israel for a gap ...

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An IDF Soldier’s Dirty Uniform

by R. Gil Student When we pray, we talk to the King of kings. In that spirit, we should dress as if we are meeting a king (see Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 91:5). Most people today are not as strict about this as they can be. It is rare to find men who wear a suit and tie for every ...

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What Torah Should a Soldier Learn?

by R. Gil Student A soldier in active times, which sadly we find ourselves at the time of this writing, often has only a few minutes a day in which he can learn Torah. In this extremely limited time, what should he learn? Obviously, a soldier’s primary duty is his military mission. This must take priority and he should not ...

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The Siege of Gaza in Halakhah

by R. Gil Student Israel is currently laying siege on the Gaza strip in order to prevent terrorists from leaving, particularly with Israeli hostages. Is a full siege on Gaza halakhically permissible? 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 ...

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