The Boldness of a Halakhist: An Analysis of the Writings of Rabbi Yechiel Mechel Halevi Epstein (The "Arukh Hashulhan")

The Boldness of a Halakhist: An Analysis of the Writings of Rabbi Yechiel Mechel Halevi Epstein (The "Arukh Hashulhan")

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Simcha Fishbane

Series: Judaism and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781934843031 (hardcover)
Pages: 208 pp.
Publication Date: March 2008

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The Boldness of a Halakhist analyzes the writings of Rabbi Yechiel Mechel Halevi Epstein (1829–1908), author of "The Arukh Hashulkhan," a bold and unusual approach to Jewish law. Based primarily on the original text of Rabbi Epstein’s legal codes and homilies, this work covers topics such as women, modernity, customs, and secular studies. It analyzes the rabbi’s approach to Jewish law and Jewish life, designed to promote the spiritual welfare of Jews under the pressures of growing secularization and Russification. Although based upon the principles of the traditional judicial process, the rabbi’s rulings demonstrate a profound understanding of the contemporary social and historical reality facing the Jews of Russia at the turn of the century. 


Simcha Fishbane (PhD Concordia University) is an associate professor of Jewish Studies and the executive assistant to the president of Touro College. His recent publications include Deviancy in Early Rabbinic Literature (Brill, 2007); Jewish Studies in Violence (UPA, 2006); and Voodoo or Judaism, The Ritual of Kapparot: People Medicine and Maaic in Jewish and Slavic Cultural Tradition (Moscow, 2007).

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction by Ira Robinson


1. Rabbi Yechiel Mechel Halevi Epstein: His Life and Works
2. “Long Live the Tsar”: Rabbi Yechiel Mechel Epstein and the Russian Political System
3. “Today Not Yesteryear”: Rabbi Y.M. Epstein’s Adjudicative Process as Expressed in the Arukh Hashulhan
4. “In Any Case There Are No Sinful Thoughts”:
The Role and Status of Women in Jewish Law as Expressed in the Arukh Hashulhan
5. The Courage of a Religious Adjudicator: Rabbi Yechiel Mechel Epstein and Modernity
6. “Mercy is Vouchsafed From Heaven”:
Halakhah’s Response to Violence as Expressed inthe Arukh Hashulhan Orakh Hayyim—Sections 560 and 576–8
7. “Secular Studies are the Supplement of Torah Studies”:
Kol Ben Levi—The Homilies of Rabbi Yechiel Mechel Halevi Epstein—The First Sermon
8. Recurrent Themes in the Homilies of Rabbi Yechiel Mechel Halevi Epstein
9. Social Reality or the Written Word: Minhag as Expressed in the Arukh Hashulhan
Appendix:
A Graphologist’s Report by Graphologist Batya Cohen

Bibliography
Index