The Importance of the Community Rabbi Leading with Compassionate Halacha By Rabbi Daniel Sperber Urim / 367 pp.
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.
This book is ultimately amazing. It is one of the few halachic books of recent vintage that have kept me engaged from cover to cover. I was simply blown away by the "bekius" and variety of rulings in this book. His arguments for leniency are powerful and convincing b…

Don't Tell Ima

Don't Tell Ima
Lisa Barness
Jewish Self Publishing

Guest Post by Shira Yael Klein

It’s clear from the start (ok, even from the blub on the back) that the husband, Efraim, is the Bad Guy. No surprises there. This complex, compelling book pulls us into the twisted world Efraim creates and we watch as things go from bad to worse. It’s a dark, disturbing read. Interestingly, while at first the book attempts to get into Efraim’s psyche and figure out what motivates him, what core of goodness he has or at least had, it quickly moves to hammering home the message that “He can’t change. You must divorce him.” I will note that Efraim is a Bad Guy par excellence, a clear candidate for immediate divorce. There are plenty of cases where a divorce is necessary where the guy is not “as bad” as Efraim. By the same token, Shifra is a near-perfect Good Person. Her only crimes are doubting herself and not getting out fast enough. OK, once she lost her cool and smacked (a genuinely difficult) son on…

With Truth and with Love

With Truth and Love Rabbi Yaakov Greenwald Feldheim Distribution / 420 pp
With Truth and Love is an outstanding guidebook and manual for improving one’s life in various ways. Some of the topics include: Chinuch (this chapter –a topic affecting virtually every Torah family today- was extraordinarily impressive), Emunah, Self-Confidence, Punishment, Tznius, Thought, Self-respect and more. One can see rather quickly how every chapter is lovingly written in a manner of arousing "devarim hayotzim min halev….nichnasim l’lev.”
Each of the 17 chapters chapter is made up of two sections: “The Principles” and the “The Practical.” The Principles section is a beautiful weave of Torah sources relating to the subject matter from the Torah and Talmud to rabbinic literature of every era. The Practical section then builds on the principles and offers practical strategies for incorporating the subject -and change- into our lives.
The book is written in an extremely clear and delicate manner. This …

Books Received


The Emperors and the Jews

The Emperors and the Jews Ari Lieberman Mosaica Press / 355 pp
The Emperors and the Jews is a truly exciting and fascinating presentation on the relationship between the Roman Emperors and the Jews. 
The emperors discussed include Alexander the Great, King Ptolemy, Vespasian, Hadrian Antonius, and more. Interspersed within each chapter are mini-biographies on the great sages and Jewish leaders that were predominate in that era.
For example, in the chapter on Alexander the Great we will have his biography, what life was like in the Roman Empire in his time, and his relationship with the sages. Contrary to popular misconception, not all Roman emperors were anti-semitic and life under Rome wasn't always that bad.
What is truly trailblazing is that Lieberman cites all the Talmudic and rabbinic references where the emperor being presented is mentioned along with the traditional commentaries. This makes the work into a beautiful synthesis between Jewish and non-Jewish perspectives on the pers…

Defining the Moment: Understanding Brain Death in Halakhah

Defining the Moment: Understanding Brain Death in Halakhah Rabbi David Shabtai, MD Kodesh / 415 pp
I was completely blown away by the clarity and readability of Defining the Moment: Understanding Brain Death in Halakhah by Rabbi David Shabtai. 
Medical papers, articles, and books, far too often scare away the layman rather than educate him. In this book, Rabbi Shabtai presents the relevant issues surrounding brain death in unprecedented clarity. For the first time, certainly in terms of a book of this caliber on medical issues, I am able to say that I understood what was presented and walked away more educated than I had begun.
Rabbi Shabtai covers everything from the basics to the advanced. Among the topics covered are organ donation issues, including the fascinating process and procedures, cardiopulmonary issues, and of course brain death, cardio death and the like. Everything is explained in a clear manner. 
The relevant rabbinic texts, from Talmud to Shulchan Aruch, along with the…

Harry Fischel: Pioneer of Jewish Philanthropy

Harry Fischel: Pioneer of Jewish Philanthropy  KTAV Publishers, 2012 Edited by Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel, Esq. GUEST POST: Reviewed by Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein Many of Jerusalem’s hallowed streets bear the names of 20th century Jewry’s most remarkable figures: Rechov Chafetz Chaim, Rechov HaRav Kook, Rechov Chaim Ozer, Rechov Polanski, Rechov Brandeis, Rechov Straus, and Rechov Magnes. One man's biography involves all of these esteemed personalities. It recalls the life and times of an individual — Harry Fischel (1865–1948) — who laid the foundations for Orthodox Judaism in America and in Israel. It is no wonder that Mr. Fischel too was honored with a street bearing his name in the City of Gold. I first came across the name Harry Fischel when studying the work Tosafos HaShaleim, which was published by Machon Harry Fischel. Little did I realize that Harry Fischel is not just the name of a publisher, but the name of a visionary who accomplished so much for the Jewish people. Mr. Fischel…