Guns in Shuls | Burying the Kedoshim – Hear from the front lines - Halacha Headlines
10/27/23 - SHIUR 440

Guns in Shuls | Burying the Kedoshim – Hear from the front lines

How are the Kedoshim being buried
Should we train people in every Shul to carry guns ?
Should there be armed security guards in Shuls and schools?
Are guns Muktza?
Are you allowed to carry a gun in a place that doesn’t have an Eruv?
Is it against the Torah hashkafa to carry a gun?
What message would carrying guns give over to children?
How do carry weapons in Shuls responsibly


Thanks a lot for your podcasts! I am not learned enough to follow all the intricacies of the discussion but try to listen regularly and consider it big part of my learning.
Just wanted to followup on your ‘guns in Shul’ podcast… I am MA State Police certified instructor and give basic safety classes required to start MA Licence to Carry application… was doing it as a hobby for a while but now got really swamped with request from the community members and others. We do have a hired security at Shul only on Shabbat and big holidays. So the rabbi does asks the people he knows are licensed to carry. The biggest problem is actually to carry the license itself with the gun!
Anyway! Feel free to give my name to people if you find appropriate. Hope we never need to use our knowledge!

David Kaye

Thank you very much for the enlightening shiurim on this vital topic. Their rarity makes them all the more valuable and necessary. I would like to humbly present some reflections for potential discussion in future shiurim or for contemplation alongside the respected rabonim you’ve engaged with. Please note, these thoughts represent only my personal opinions and are not reflective of MagenAm’s stance.
MagenAm is acknowledged as a benchmark in Armed Shul Security in the U.S., and I have found your previous shiurim instrumental in guiding discussions with our local rabbinical leaders.

At the 28-minute mark, Harav Nochum’s dialogue on practical security measures prompts me to respectfully offer a different perspective. While his scholarly prowess is beyond doubt, his expertise in tactical shooting, and that of his close associates, might not be as extensive. His viewpoint on the efficacy of an expert shooter in neutralizing multiple assailants may not fully encompass the practical realities of such situations. In halachic deliberations, especially those intersecting with real-world scenarios like security, it’s imperative that the factual underpinnings — the metziyus — are accurately and impartially articulated by a qualified expert. Absent this, there’s a concern that halachic decisions could be misaligned with the actual context, impacting their relevance and applicability.

At 29:38, Harav Nachum expresses skepticism about an armed individual’s ability to defend themselves. However, one might recall the Texas church incident, where a shooter was neutralized after taking two lives, preventing further tragedy. This underscores the importance of training and regular skill refreshment. Harav Nachum’s citation of “anachnu beshem elokeinu nazkir” is indeed pertinent, yet it omits the simultaneous critical directive of “habah l’hargecha, hashkem l’horgo” — a principle that necessitates practical preparedness for self-defense including, training and gun ownership.
His observation that many synagogues in Miami have police protection doesn’t mirror the reality of numerous shuls lacking security resources, often leaving their doors open let alone unguarded. Harav Nachum’s assertion that the army and police are tasked with our protection, while our role is Torah study, is thought-provoking. Yet, discussions with experienced law enforcement officers often reveal a different picture: in the event of an active shooter, their role might tragically be limited to managing the aftermath. This raises a poignant question: if the existing security infrastructure is insufficient, how do we reconcile our reliance on divine protection with the practical need for self-defense?
Harav Nachum also references an incident where a person couldn’t draw their weapon in time. In contrast, recent training with MagenAm members this week demonstrated the capability of trained individuals to rapidly and accurately respond to threats including drawing from the holster, and firing with lethal accuracy sub-second – confirming that security – with the right training is highly effective (with g-ds help).
Harav Nochum’s suggestion that avoiding synagogue attendance could offer greater protection is a point that merits careful consideration. While halacha indeed advises staying home in times of danger, the dynamics change if the threat extends to being at home. It’s crucial to recognize that visible fear or avoidance can, unfortunately, embolden those with hostile intentions. Demonstrating strength and preparedness, such as attending shul while responsibly armed, can be a powerful deterrent, aligning with the principle of pikuach nefesh, the obligation to preserve life. This has been proven time and again – when disrupting the terror planning cycle. Hardened or well guarded institutions are not only unlikely to be attacked, when chosen and discovered to be well defended, they increase the odds of deterring an attack at all even against others.
The concern about exposing young students to firearms is valid and well-taken. In this context, responsible, trained community members (balebatim) could serve as suitable candidates for armed security, balancing safety with sensitivity.
Regarding the carrying of firearms to shul, particularly in areas without an eruv, the discussion becomes complex. In scenarios where the guard is a state-licensed security officer, there are specific uniform requirements in California, including identifiable patches, a badge, and, for armed guards, a visible firearm. This uniform might be considered permissible even in areas without an eruv when facing a threat, though this point wasn’t conclusively answered in the shiur.
When addressing the issue of whether to stay home during times of potential danger, it’s important to delve deeper into the concept of pikuach nefesh.
When there is a pro-palestinian protest in los Angeles – so far 1 out of every 10 – results in pikuach nefesh – (attempted car rammings, beatings – sakanas nefoshos mamash).
However where there were armed guards outside our shul – the protesters passed by – and did not attempt to escalate anything with the jews at those shuls. Where there was not – they did attempt to hurt, and harass jews – proving the point that “hunters” look for “victims” that look eligible to be victims. Underscoring the importance of visible, capable security.
Rav Moshe’s suggestion of storing a firearm in a shtender once inside the shul raises a security concern. It’s generally advisable to keep the firearm securely on one’s person at all times for immediate access and control.

The tragic events at Har Nof could have potentially unfolded differently with the presence of trained armed responders. Historical instances in Israeli settlements, where residents successfully defended against heavily armed attackers using only handguns, highlight the effectiveness of skilled marksmanship and tactical training over sheer firepower even rifles, in close-quarters defense like in shuls.
Harav Nochum’s point about the limited impact of a single armed individual might not fully consider scenarios like lone wolf attacks, where neutralizing even one assailant can be crucial. In situations involving small hostile groups, a few well-positioned and trained defenders can make a significant difference.
The analogy of running a red light to rush a pregnant wife to the hospital versus carrying a gun for self-defense illustrates two different levels of emergency response. While the former is a direct act of pikuach nefesh, the latter can be seen as addressing only a sofek pikuach nefesh, which halacha takes seriously, even if secular law may not always align.
In conclusion, MagenAm advocates for community members to become licensed, thoroughly trained, volunteer security guards, equipped with open carry licenses. Recognizing the limitations in relying solely on police protection, we focus on empowering the community to defend itself, with Divine assistance guiding us.

A practical note: MagenAm mandates the use of the Glock 19, given its reliability and popularity. We also recommend kydex holsters over leather to reduce the risk of accidental discharge. Our stance is clear: owning a firearm without adequate training is more of a liability than a benefit. Hence, we encourage responsible gun ownership coupled with rigorous training.
Again – nothing here is in the name of MagenAm – these are my personal views and comments.

David Morris

Two thoughts about the introduction to this week’s podcast: 1) In international law, “proportionality” doesn’t mean what you said it does. It means that the number of enemy civilian and military deaths must be in proportion to the military benefit sought. So if the army needs to capture a town to find a place to sleep, they can’t kill 1,000 of the enemy. But if they need to capture a town to prevent the town from being used as a sniper base that will be attacking, they can kill 1,000 of the enemy, even if its likely that only 5 of the attacking army will be killed by the snipers. So it’s not “they killed 1,000 of us, so we can kill 1000 (or only 1000) of them.” Proportionality is measured not against the harm previously done to us, but against the military objective to be accomplished by us in the future.
2) The suggestion that no other nation has been criticized for non-proportionality. This simply isn’t true. The British were criticized for the bombing of Dresden, and the US was (and is) criticized for the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and to a lesser extent on Nagasaki. The allied bombers during WWII flew lower over France during their bombing raids to minimize civilian casualties even though that increased their own pilot casualties. It’s also true, of course, that the US did drop the bombs on Japan and that Great Britain did bomb Dresden: winners decide who is punished, but it doesn’t mean that they are not criticized or didn’t commit war crimes.

Both these points are accepted proudly by Tzahal and are part of its training program. Noam Zohar (who helped write the Tohar HaNeshek section of the Tzahal code of conduct) has written about this and was interviewed about it on the New Books In Jewish Studies podcast earlier this week (episode 51). He’d make a good guest or background expert. He’s at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. If you want, I can help make a kesher for you.

Listening to podcast - distraction of carrying guns to respond to end emergency versus Hatzalah?

Would people saying that distracted people who carry guns for defense – do they also suggest that Hatzalah members who are listening for an emergency also not come to minyan??
Thank you for your insights and efforts.

Nussen Lurie

On 7 Teves, 1951, the Rebbe shared a story that he had heard directly from the celebrated Chabad Chossid, Reb Eliyahu Chaim Althaus HY”D, may Hashem avenge his blood.
(Reb Chaim Eliyahu, along with Reb Itche the Masmid and Reb Yechezkal Feigan, was burnt alive in a synagogue by the Nazis on 10 Kislev, 1941.)
When the Frierdiker Rebbe was a young man, he was once walking together with Reb Eliyahu Chaim Althaus.
As they walked, they passed near a shooting range.
Bold by nature, Reb Eliyahu Chaim proposed that they step inside and try their hand with the firearms, to determine who had the better shot.
The Frierdiker Rebbe agreed, and the two of them proceeded into the range.
What followed was most remarkable:
The Frierdiker Rebbe did not miss a single shot, hitting the target perfectly with each bullet fired, while Chaim Eliyahu failed to hit even a single shot.
(Sichos Kodesh, 5711, pp. 92-93, Toras Menachem 5711, p. 163)
Thorrorumner nouve agroou, alla dre evvo proceeded into the range.
What followed was most remarkable:
The Frierdiker Rebbe did not miss a single shot, hitting the target perfectly with each bullet fired, while Chaim Eliyahu failed to hit even a single shot.
(Sichos Kodesh, 5711, pp. 92-93, Toras Menachem 5711, p. 163)
After an attempt was made on the Frierdiker Rebbe’s life, in an effort to halt and terminate the vital work he did for his father, he began carrying a revolver with him at all times.
(See Sefer Hasichos 5681, p. 21)

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Shiur 365 Riddle

Submitted by Isaac Saban

To answer riddle one. Rashi brings that Lot and Avraham were alike. The Medrash says that Nimrod wanted to take Lot and make him speak divre kfira so that people think hes Avraham.
According to this, Avraham wasnt just going to save his nephew, wich could be assur because of Sakanah. But he was “causing” hillil Hashem by lettibg this happen, and for that you have to give even your life.
Regarding teh second riddle, there is a concept that the mazal feels. It could be Abraham felt something its going to happen, without knowing if it was him, his descendants or somebody else. But he felt he had to pray for them.
Shkoyach for the amazing shiurim


בנוגע לשאלה שהסתכן עבור לוט שנשבה: הנימוקי יוסף בסוף פרק שמיני בסנדהרין כותב שמפורסם בחסידות שמותר למסור את נפשו בשביל שהדור ילמד ממנו ואברהם רצה ללמד על חסד.
ולשאלה השניה: מסביר המהר”ן שהיה אברהם חושש שמא יולד לו לעת זקנה סמוך לפטירתו ואליעזר יקח את ממנו(כמו אפוטרופוס. וגם התורה תחשב של אליעזר שהרי לא יוכל ללמדו אברהם תורה).

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Rabbi Elyada Goldvicht, Rabbi Nachum Eisenstein, Rabbi Moshe Revah, Mr. Yoni Bursztyn
Guns in Shuls | Burying the Kedoshim – Hear from the front lines
Downloads :
Rabbi Elyada Goldvicht, Rabbi Nachum Eisenstein, Rabbi Moshe Revah, Mr. Yoni Bursztyn
Guns in Shuls | Burying the Kedoshim – Hear from the front lines
Downloads :