Musings

Can an Atheist Do a Mitzvah?

by R. Gil Student I. Reasons for Mitzvos Everyone fulfills commandments at some point, even if only incidentally. But can the actions of an atheist or other non-believer count as mitzvos, as fulfillments of the divine command, when they are not intended as such? This matter is subject to debate but the majority seem to agree that a non-believer does ...

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Does a Sukkah Need WiFi for WFH?

by R. Gil Student I. A Usable Sukkah A sukkah needs to be usable. Rav Moshe Isserles (Rema, 16th cen., Poland; gloss to Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 640:4) writes that a sukkah in which you cannot do certain basic things is an invalid sukkah. For example, if you cannot sleep in a specific sukkah, then it is invalid for all ...

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May a Yisrael Dukhen?

by R. Gil Student I. Who May Dukhen? The Torah commands kohanim, male descendants of the priestly families, to bless other Jews while raising their hands and reciting a specific formula, i.e. to dukhen, to do Nesi’as Kapayim. “Speak with Aharon and with his sons, saying: In this way you shall bless the children of Israel; you shall say to ...

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Returning To The Rav’s Teshuvah Lectures

by R. Gil Student Book review of: Before Hashem You Shall Be Purified: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik on the Days of Awe (Expanded Edition) Edited by Dr. Arnold Lustiger OU Press, 205 pages Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (henceforth, the Rav) spoke in a majestic manner that captivated listeners for hours at a time. He dissected complicated halachic subjects in an exciting and ...

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Three Brief Reviews

In the Fall 2022 issue of Jewish Action, I review the following three books: Judaism of the Poskim: Responsa and the Nature of Orthodox Judaism by R. Gidon Rothstein Authentically Orthodox: A Tradition-Bound Faith in American Life by R. Zev Eleff Make Your Berachos Meaningful: A Deeper Understanding of the Opening Words of All Our Berachos by R. Mechel Handler Judaism of the Poskim: ...

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Can Mashiach Come on Rosh Hashanah?

by R. Gil Student We believe, with complete faith, that Mashiach will come and we wait daily for his arrival. Does that mean that he can come any day? On the one hand, this is all a theoretical exercise. When he comes, he comes. We won’t tell him, “Sorry, it’s the wrong day.” However, the Sages discussed this, which means ...

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Could Acher Return?

by R. Gil Student I. Acher’s Sins Repentance, teshuvah, is an ability to repair the past and create a better future. Everyone sins. Teshuvah allows you to get past that, to learn from your mistakes and improve yourself. Those who are mostly religious and those who are mostly non-religious need teshuvah in order to become better Jews. In theory, anyone ...

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That’s Rabbi So-and-So To You

by R. Gil Student Aside from its obvious effect on those who became ill, Covid caused many secondary effects in society. Among them is clergy exit. Clergy of all religions faced unusual strain during the pandemic and many clergy members have decided to change professions. I was asked by a rabbi who left the rabbinate for a corporate career whether ...

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Re’eh: The Spiritual Source of Amazon Prime

by R. Gil Student Everyone likes the feeling of getting a new toy. Whether you are a child and it’s a literal toy or you are an adult and it is whatever “thing” makes you happy — clothes, gadgets, food, exercise equipment, or — my favorite — books. When it is on its way, you have this excited feeling of ...

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Dream Interpretations

by R. Gil Student Our dreams intrigue us and sometimes haunt us. Often, they challenge us to try to understand their meaning. Granted, not all dreams contain a divine message. As we discussed earlier, today almost all dreams are products of the messages that are hurled at us non-stop all day. But let’s assume that a specific dream is, indeed, ...

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