A guide to the Complex: Contemporary Halakhic Debates: R. Shlomo M. Brody – A review

Brody- GuidetoComplex-loresRabbi Brody’s book presents short halakhic (Jewish law) essays on a wide range of topics from Shabbat Elevators to Euthenasia, the question of riding a bicycle on Shabbat to Women’s Megilla readings. Each essay is very easy to read and understand and can be read in just a few minutes. Due to the concise yet entertaining nature of each essay it is very easy to sit down and decide to read one essay and find you have been there for an hour and read five!

The book contains questions, which I may not have been interested in but for the fact that the information is presented in a clear manner with the author’s own views being presented on a number of occasions. As is common in literature of this type, Rabbi Brody often suggests that the reader seeks clarification on questions from their Rabbi. However he takes clear positions on many issues such as the Kashrut of foie gras. Whilst noting that some Kashrut authorities allow the consumption of foie gras he notes, “the Israeli Supreme Court cited tzaar baalei hayim in its 2003 ban of foie gras production, which I support.”

The book is a very good example of the author’s ability to present copious amounts of information in just a few pages. Complex topics such as fertility treatments cover a wide range of rabbinic questions and answers. In particular the section dealing with medical ethics is presented in a sensitive and caring manner. In his essay on Prayers for the Terminally Ill he concludes, “May God provide mercy and comfort to the terminally ill and their loved ones.” Far from being a cold presentation of various rabbinic opinions this book has a caring and considerate voice for those facing difficult questions.

For those who are seeking to learn topics in more detail Rabbi Brody provides references for most of his comments. However, on a number of occasions, he does not provide a reference. For more advanced learning the book would have benefited from fuller referencing (e.g. page numbers) and a complete bibliography.

For the English-speaking members of the Jewish community, or those who are not familiar with learning teshuvot (responsa) literature, this is a valuable and enjoyable addition to any library. For the more advanced students, there is also much to be gained. For myself, I have found that the essays provide a fascinating basis for many a Shabbat meal discussion with friends and family of all learning and religious backgrounds. Thank you Rabbi Brody.

You can order it online here.




About bookabazza

I am an Osteopath and University Lecturer who is trying to keep up with the 7 year daf yomi cycle. I thought I would try and share a few small thought on the daf each week.
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