New Review – Aruch Hashulchan in English

by Rabbi Ari Enkin Torah Book Reviews

I am completely blown away by the English Aruch HaShulchan that was just published by Urim Publications. This outstanding volume covers chapters 242-292 of Orach Chaim, the laws of Shabbat. Specifically, these chapters primarily discuss preparing for the arrival of Shabbat, Jewish/Non-Jews partnerships, preparing the stove/oven for Shabbat (shehiya, chazara, and hatmanan), kiddush, the Shabbat meals, and more.

For those less familiar, the Aruch Hashulchan is a code of law written by Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829–1908). The Aruch Hashulchan is incredibly unique in that before discussing the relevant halachot of each chapter, it first cited the relevant Talmudic passages and the view of the Rishonim. Most such Rishonim are only accessible to the advanced student of halacha. With this English translation, the world of the Rif, Rosh, Rambam, Ran, Ravan, Rabbeinu Chananel, and more, are now at the fingertips of English speakers. Priceless!

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems that the Aruch Hashulchan just doesn’t get the full measure of attention or authority that it deserves. It often seems as if there is a popularity contest between the Mishna Berura and the Aruch Hashulchan.

Although not completely accurate, perhaps the state of affairs can be summarized as follows: the “yeshivish” world follows the Mishna Berura almost exclusively. This is ostensibly due to the influence of Rabbi Ahron Kotler who enacted that his Lakewood yeshiva follow the Mishna Berura exclusively. On the other hand, much of the non-yeshivish world defers to the Aruch Hashulchan. This is quite odd, actually, considering that the Aruch Hashulchan is a Lithuanian work while the Mishna Berura is a Polish one!

The Aruch Hashulchan is probably the most thorough and conveniently organized compilation of halacha today. As mentioned, every halachic issue opens with a presentation of the relevant scriptural and Talmudic sources. So too, unlike the Mishna Berura’s text-based-tradition to deciding halacha, the Aruch Hashulchan tries to determine the halacha based on Talmudic precedents and contemporary practice…and often works hard to satisfy both. It’s not since the Rambam that there has been a work of halacha that covers all of Jewish law like the Aruch Hashulchan does.

So should we follow the Mishna Berura or the Aruch Hashulchan?

Rabbi Yehuda Henkin in Bnei Banim 2:8, cites his grandfather, Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, as having ruled that the Aruch Hashulchan is the more definitive and authoritative decisor of halacha. He offers a number of reasons for this. One reason is because most of the Aruch Hashulchan was written after the Mishna Berura. In fact, the Aruch Hashulchan often cites the Mishna Berura before issuing his own rulings. Another reason is because it covers the entire Shulchan Aruch while the Mishna Berura only covers the Orach Chaim section. Finally, the Mishna Berura was essentially written by a scholar while the Aruch Hashulchan was written by a scholar who was also a practicing rabbi. As a practicing rabbi, the author regularly interacted with the community and dealt with the problems and issues that they faced. He had more hands-on experience in dealing with halachic dilemmas. Indeed, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein is reported to have said that the Aruch Hashulchan takes precedence over the Mishna Berura for this reason alone.

This new Urim English edition of the Aruch Hashulchan is an absolutely vital addition to the collection of any Anglo student of Halacha. Both the Hebrew and English is crisp and clear, attractive and engaging. Whether used as one’s primary study of halacha or as a review for those more fluent in halachic texts, I have no doubt that one’s retention and understanding of the Aruch Hashulchan will be better then ever. Thank you to Urim Publisher R’ Tzvi Mauer for sending this volume! It’s simply outstanding…a real game changer in the world of English halacha. Hopefully it’s the first of many volumes.

Presentation of Ludovit Feld by Silvia Fishbaum

You are cordially invited…

The Life of Ludovit Feld
Presented by AJC New Jersey and the Consulate General of Slovakia in New York

Featuring Silvia Fishbaum, Author of Dirty Jewess
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
3:00 PM

Join us for a fascinating look at the life of renowned artist, Ludovit Feld. Born in Kosice, Slovakia in 1904, Feld was deported to Auschwitz in 1944 where, as a person with dwarfism, he was subjected to the experiments of Dr. Josef Mengele, and forced to become Dr. Mengele’s personal artist. Having survived the Holocaust, Feld moved back to Kosice where he lived until his death in 1991.

Silvia Fishbaum, author of Dirty Jewess and a student of Ludovit Feld’s, introduced by Ladislava Begec, Consul General of Slovakia in New York, will share wiht us his incredible life story and her experience of studying under him in postwar Communist Czechoslovakia, Silvia will also speak about current efforts to keep Feld’s memory and the memory of the Holocaust alive in Kosice.

I Am For My Beloved – Podcast Interview

Talli Rosenbaum on love and marriage and the joys and challenges of intimacy.

“Sex is not something you ‘have’ but rather an expression of an intimate and erotic energy that a couple mutually shares.” This quote, from the recently released book, I Am For My Beloved: A Guide to Enhanced Intimacy for Married Couples by co-authors Talli Rosenbaum and David Ribner, reflects the theme that a passionate marriage is about cultivating a loving, emotionally intimate relationship.

In this episode of Intimate Judaism, Rabbi Scott Kahn interviews co-host Talli Rosenbaum, and her co-author Dr. David Ribner about the book, which helps couples improve both their emotional and physical intimate lives. Join Rabbi Scott, David, and Talli, as they discuss the challenges of writing a book about sex for Orthodox Jewish couples, the topics they chose, and the book’s relevance for Jewish couples, regardless of their background. 

Finally, listen here as Talli and David offer suggestions for sustaining passion in a long term, monogamous marriage.

The Importance of the Community Rabbi – new review

Rabbi Ari Enkin ● Torah Book Reviews

In “The Importance of the Community Rabbi” Rabbi Daniel Sperber, whose prominence and accomplishments need no introduction, argues vigorously for today’s rabbis to rule more leniently. He presents a fascinating and engaging treasury of hundreds of lenient halachic rulings throughout the ages. Rabbi Sperber argues that issues like sensitivity to people’s feelings, human dignity, “changing circumstances” and “ko’ach d’heteira” should be given more weight in halachic decision making. The precedents are there, clearly presented one after the other with seemingly no end.

Continue reading “The Importance of the Community Rabbi – new review”

Strangers and Natives – New Review

Israel Drazin

Ron Rubin’s “Strangers & Natives: A Newspaper Narrative of Early Jewish America 1734-1869,” contains very fascinating and very informative information about the daily life, problems, successes, and customs of Jews in America during the early years of the United States. It includes information about the Jewish involvement in many facets of the country’s life: politics, military, education, literature, journalism, and more.

While there are many history books that address these subjects, this is the first time where the documents, diaries, memoirs, and periodicals are published. Readers can see the originals of these materials which have been scanned and printed in this book. They will also be able to read Professor Rubin’s comments on each original document.


Much is revealed in these documents, such as Grant’s infamous expulsion of Jews from Tennessee, the work of Mordecai M. Noah, the involvement of Jews in the Civil War, the daily activities of Jews during this period, Benjamin Franklin’s philo-Semitism, the hatred of others against Jews, opinions expressed whether Christians should work to convert Jews, and much more.

Add some fun to your Pesach seder this year with the Emoji Haggadah!

Mackenzie Haun ISJL Education Newsletter

“If you (and maybe your Gen Z kids) are looking for a challenge, this haggadah is written entirely in Emojis, down to the page number. If you’d rather decode Emojis than Hebrew, this could be fun for you. Or, it could just be a fun coffee table book.”

New Book – Emoji Haggadah

Peek Inside the new Emoji Haggadah!


Exodus and emojis

Banji GanchrowJewish Standard

New haggadah tells the old story, but without words.

Before you know it, it will be Passover 2019. Time for cleaning, shopping, cooking, and finding the perfect haggadah for your seder table.

Continue reading “New Book – Emoji Haggadah”

Vatican and Oxford University Share Ancient Texts Online

The Oxford University and Vatican libraries are to jointly digitise 1.5m pages of ancient texts and make them available free online.

The libraries said the digitised collections will centre on three subject areas: Greek manuscripts, 15th-century printed books and Hebrew manuscripts and early printed books.

The areas have been chosen for the strength of the collections in both libraries and their importance for scholarship in their respective fields.

With approximately two-thirds of the material coming from the Vaticanand the remainder from Oxford University’s Bodleian libraries, the digitisation effort will also benefit scholars by uniting materials that have been dispersed between the collections for centuries.

“Transforming these ancient texts and images into digital form helps transcend the limitations of time and space which have in the past restricted access to knowledge,” Sarah Thomas, director of the Bodleian Libraries, said on Thursday.

“Scholars will be able to interrogate these documents in fresh approaches as a result of their online availability.”

The initiative has been made possible by a £2m award from the Polonsky Foundation.

“The service to humanity which the Vatican library has accomplished over almost six centuries, by preserving its cultural treasures and making them available to readers, finds here a new avenue which confirms and amplifies its universal vocation through the use of new tools, thanks to the generosity of the Polonsky Foundation and to the sharing of expertise with the Bodleian libraries,” Holy See librarian Cardinal Raffaele Farina said.

The original article appeared in The Guardian.

People of the Byte from JewishIdeasDaily

by Alex Joffe

Jews have long been the People of the Book.  But as computers replace books and possibly libraries, museums, and universities, will they soon be the People of the Byte?  If so, what will happen to their understanding of their history?  These were the questions raised by a recent two-day conference at the Center for Jewish History titled “From Access to Integration.”  At the sessions, librarians, archivists, and scholars explored the cutting edge of the Jewish digital world.  They outlined the immense technical challenges involved in creating databases for scholarly and public use and described the digitization projects that are steadily surmounting these challenges.  They also addressed the puzzle of “integration,” which may be harder to solve.

It is astonishing to see how far technology has come in making Jewish information available.  Tasks that are impossible for the human eye to perform—like reuniting the hundreds of thousands of dispersed fragments of the Cairo Genizah in New York, Cambridge, and elsewhere—are being done by computer algorithms.  The diversity of Jewish sound—hazzanut, Israeli folk songs, Borscht Belt comedy routines, Torah chanting from Lithuania to Morocco—can be preserved and disseminated to anyone in the world with a computer.  Jewish newspapers from Israel and Arab countries, Ottoman-era photographs of the Holy Land, and archives of Jewish communities living and dead, especially documentation of the vast life of European Jewry—all of these are or will soon be available.

Yet technology, which can make two- and even three-dimensional representations of the past available again, cannot make them alive.  How will these streams of data flow into the individual and collective processes of creating a historical memory with texture and feeling?  Will the human relationship to the material remains of the past be reduced to “output”?   Continue reading “People of the Byte from JewishIdeasDaily”