In this collection of short halachic essays Rabbi Cohen ‘seeks to offer contemporary creative halachic responses to issues and problems that affect modern Jews’ (p. 16).
In general, most books within this genre of contemporary halachic guides on the laws of Shabbat are excessively strict and rarely provide the rationale for each decision. Rabbi Cohen, who is a community Rabbi in West Palm Beach, believes that his explorations must include a clear-cut decision, and be based ‘upon a process of open-minded Torah research rather than upon a preconceived tendency to be strict or lenient’ (p. 14). As such, within each essay he provides clear answers as well as a presentation of the sources that led him to his conclusion.
Some of the questions covered in this volume provide us with a greater understanding of Shabbat rituals such as when the Friday night candles should be lit or whether one should stand or sit for Kiddush.
Others provide refreshing insights into oft-misunderstood laws such as whether one can take pills on Shabbat or set a dishwasher on a timer on Shabbat.
However, perhaps the most refreshing element in this volume is where Rabbi Cohen addresses questions that rarely receive attention in English-language guides such as the halachic considerations of a Shabbat bus.
This is a wonderful book that provides the reader with a genuine yet accessible understanding of the halakhic process as well as insights on a wide range of Shabbat issues. Enjoy!
The original review appeared on Rabbi Johnny Solomon’s blog.