Musings

The End and Beginning of Carrying

by R. Gil Student We recite Psalm 24 (Le-David mizmor La-Shem ha’aretz u-mlo’ah) frequently throughout the year but with particular emphasis on Rosh Hashanah. Most people wonder about the confusing repetition in the chapter. The last two verses are almost identical with the preceding two verses: Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! ...

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Biblical Defamation in Divorce and Politics

by R. Gil Student I. The Source of Defamation Unsurprisingly, one of the two sources in the Torah for defamation, hotza’as shem ra, is an ugly divorce. The Chafetz Chaim, the classic work on Jewish speech ethics by the rabbi who is now called by the book’s name, distinguishes between disparagement (true damaging statements) and defamation (false damaging statements). He ...

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Are House Minyanim Kosher?

by R. Gil Student People arrange a minyan in their home to accommodate someone sick, elderly or otherwise unable to attend synagogue. When I was a teenager, we had a Shabbos mincha/ma’ariv in someone’s basement because the mile-plus walk uphill to the nearest shul was, for many, too long to do twice on a Shabbos. But sometimes people attend a ...

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Clemency in the Jewish Tradition

by R. Gil Student In the United States, the President has the power to pardon someone convicted of a federal crime, freeing the individual from punishment. Similarly, many governors can pardon state crimes. This ability to grant clemency is not something that is intuitively necessary. If a court convicts and sentences a criminal, why should that work be overturned by ...

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The 9/11 Memorial and Jewish Law

by R. Gil Student As a New York resident who worked in Manhattan on September 11, 2001, I will forever be haunted by the tragic day and its aftermath. However, visitors and future generations, including my own children, need more than personal memories. The 9/11 memorial and museum are intended to provide that. An article in First Things by Catesby ...

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There Is No Mitzvah To Be A Freier

by R. Gil Student Nice guys do not have to finish last. Nor must they suffer from people who refuse to play by the rules. Jewish law allows for self-defense in many different ways, including financially. We once discussed physical self-defense. Judaism does not require someone who is hit to turn the other cheek but allows you to hit back. ...

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When Is Kiddush Levanah?

by R. Gil Student Rosh Chodesh Elul marks the end of the Jewish summer and the beginning of the autumn holiday season. Throughout the month, we engage in customs that grow as we approach Rosh Hashanah, preparing us for the annual judgment day. In accordance with this mood, the Mateh Ephraim (582:1) writes that we should be particularly careful to ...

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