March 29, 2018
Review by Israel Drazin • The Times of Israel
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik on Pesach, Sefirat ha-Omer and Shavu’ot” is the second volume in a series of books put out by The Rabbi Soloveitchik Library presenting the thoughts of Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik. The book addresses eleven issues concerning laws relating to Passover, the Counting of the Omer, the debate between the Sadducees and Pharisees concerning the date of the holiday of Shavuot, and concludes with three of the eleven chapters focusing on the first four commands on the Decalogue. Read the rest of this entry »
March 25, 2018
Review by Daniel D. Stuhlman • AJL Reviews
When you encounter a book of Jewish law written by someone who is both a professor in a law school, a former dayan, and a former congregational rabbi, you will find content that is both well written and comprehensive in scope. Rabbi Broyde has arranged the book according to the volumes of the Shulḥan Arukh, i.e, Orach Chaim, Yoreh Deah, Even Haezer, and Choshen Mishpat. The book provides answers for the professional (rabbi) and the convert and covers every aspect of conversion and life afterwards. Some of the laws covered here are applicable under very limited and oftentimes obscure situations. For example, the Torah states that a Jew may not marry an Ammonite or Moabite. Since these nations have disappeared, such restrictions obviously no longer apply. Nevertheless, this book is a useful addition to modern interpretations of Jewish law. Overall, the main idea underpinning this work may be summarized as follows: there is a special obligation to love the convert and extra care must be taken to determine how this obligation applies.
The author’s conclusion is that there is no single origin story or theory that can explain who we are and how we became 21st century Jews. There is no easy explanation as to why we are a religion, ethnic group, and nationality. This book encourages the reader to understand the questions a convert faces so that one may understand and welcome them into the community. Recommended for academic, synagogue, and personal libraries.
March 22, 2018
Review by Daniel D. Stuhlman • AJL Reviews
Major technological advances in medical treatment raise many ethical and halakhic (Jewish law) issues concerning end of life and reproductive medical situations. Even though the Halakha has precedents in the Talmud and in the subsequent codes and responsa, one must keep current in the medical, psychological, and halakhic domains to be able to make decisions. For example, one congregational rabbi was consulted about removing life-support from a dying patient. The rabbi said that he would follow the ruling of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who said that when the oxygen tank is changed, if the patient is able to breathe on his own, we can decline to connect a new tank. The author told the rabbi that hospitals supply oxygen from wall connections and have not used tanks for many decades.
The author reminds us that the role of the chaplain is to Read the rest of this entry »
March 19, 2018
Review by Dov Peretz Elkins • JewishMediaReview
In this day and age it is nearly impossible to stay 100% healthy and fit. Between long hours sitting in an office chair, balancing a family, and accomplishing everything else on your to-do list, it’s no wonder that health has become a relative term. To combat this, Michael Kaufman shows you how to extend your life by living healthy and fit. Am I My Body’s Keeper contains no magic life-extending elixir, nor a secret map to help you discover the fountain of youth. Am I My Body’s Keeper provides a simple guide to changing your lifestyle, from the sedentary one characterizing most of society to an active one emphasizing physical activity and healthy eating. The simple lifestyle changes advocated by this book will give you vim and vigor, health and fitness during those additional years of life you will be gaining. Based upon the timeless teachings of the Jewish sages as well as scientific research, Am I My Body’s Keeper is a guide for good, healthy living. It is for young and old, men and women—for everyone who wishes to be healthy and fit and to live a long life.
About the Author:
Dr. Michael Kaufman, a distinguished scholar, author, and lecturer, studied at Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Vodaat, Telshe Yeshiva, Brooklyn College, and the University of Louisville. He has written extensively and has published nine books on Judaism and Jewish art and culture, including A Timeless Judaism for Our Time, Love, Marriage and Family in Jewish Law and Tradition, Feminism and Judaism, The Art of Judaism, Land of My Past, Land of My Future, on the mitzvah of residing in Israel; and a memoir, In One Era, Out the Other.
The author lives in Israel, where he does research and writes on the latest developments and scientific studies on health, nutrition, and fitness while standing at his shtender desk. Now in his 86th year, Michael Kaufman maintains an active, energetic schedule which includes time for daily fitness workouts and brisk early morning walks around the hills of Jerusalem.
March 18, 2018
Review by Roger S. Kohn • AJL Reviews
This slim book has two parts: part one about women serving as a communal prayer leader; part two, about women counting in a quorum of ten.
This book aims to answer a need: “though the halakhic questions regarding egalitarian minyanim have earned a fair amount of literature, there is still a need for a comprehensive treatment of the issue that seeks to understand the underlying concerns and issues of the different positions taken. Read the rest of this entry »
March 8, 2018
Review by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz • Jewish Journal
As I’ve been a close student of Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo’s for many years and am very familiar with his philosophy, I found myself excited and eager to read his latest book: Jewish Law as Rebellion: A Plea for Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage (Urim Publications, 2018). I was not disappointed. In this masterful work, Rav Cardozo not only critiques the great challenges that Jews face in the world but also lays out an inspirational and comprehensive vision of contemporary Judaism, one where, “Halacha’s main [function] is to protest against a world that is becoming ever more complacent, self-indulgent, insensitive, and egocentric” (21). Read the rest of this entry »
March 5, 2018
Review by Aryeh Klapper • JOFA
In Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law, Rabbis Ethan Tucker and Micha’el Rosenberg have produced a book that is noteworthy for its integrity, accuracy, and clarity. The authors worked for many years to refine the book’s content and responded to critiques with thanks and openness to revising their arguments, if not their conclusions. (Full disclosure: I am thanked for my “sharp and serious critiques and criticisms” [p. 9], ongoing from when I was a stripling Orthodox rabbinic adviser at Harvard Hillel while they were undergraduates.) The formal elements of their arguments are consciously crafted to fall within traditional and contemporary Orthodox halakhic parameters. The quality and humility of their work can serve as a model for private and public halakhic conversations about such issues.
This hard-earned and well-deserved praise does not mean that the book ought to succeed in directly affecting the davening practices of halakhic communities, nor that it successfully justifies the genderidentical practices of current prayer communities that otherwise follow the halakhot of prayer. It is vital to understand why, even if the explanation is lengthy. Read the rest of this entry »