Contemporary Halakhic Problems Vol. VII

Contemporary Halakhic Problems Vol. VII
Rabbi J. David Bleich
Maggid / 525 pp.

Rabbi J. David Bleich and his “Contemporary Halakhic Problems” series need no introduction. There is no student or scholar of halacha who is not familiar with Contemporary Halakhic Problems, and in fact, one is essentially unable to formulate a credible or authoritative view on a halachic issue without first studying the issue in CHP (if, of course, the issue has been covered in the series).

My day was made with the receipt of volume 7 this week.  The newest volume opens with “Passover Questions” including a discussion on what is an annually reoccurring feud here in Beit Shemesh regarding whether water from the Kinneret may be consumed during Pesach. Presenting nine different arguments and considerations (some of which I was exposed to for the first time) Rabbi Bleich concludes that there is no concern whatsoever with consuming water from the Kinneret. In Beit Shemesh, however, the stricter view has prevailed, with the Kinneret water supply being closed off to Beit Shemesh during Pesach with water being supplied from local wells instead.

Other issues that are dealt with include using video surveillance to negate Yichud issues and to declare milk as Chalav Yisrael, both of which have ample authority to permit doing so, contact with wine by non-observant Jews, the halachic weight of vaccinations, a possible kashrut concern with Styrofoam cups, and about a dozen other cutting-edge contemporary issues.

The chapter on entering a church was especially fascinating and relevant. It includes a discussion on whether Christianity is idolatry, entering a church for ceremonial or tourist purposes (Westminster Abbey, Vatican Museum), historical anecdotes of rabbinical figures who have done so, and other issues relating to Christian influence.   

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