Books For Life Newsletter
Volume 2, Number 1

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Dear friends,

Shalom U-vrakhah! Welcome to the first issue of Volume 2 of 'Sefer Ha-Hayim - Books for Life' Newsletter. After an unplanned hiatus, the newsletter is back with some (hopefully) interesting book news. In this issue you will find out about some new books and a fascinating but not-so-new haggadah.

Thank you,

Gil Student
President, Yashar Books

Vol. 2, No. 1


1. A Book for Lawyers
2. The Book about the Bach
3. Defending the Tradition
4. Orthodox Infertility
5. Orthodox Bible Scholarship in Print
6. An Eloquent Haggadah
7. In the Pipeline


Yashar Books is pleased to announce the publication of Rabbi Michael J. Broyde's The Pursuit of Justice and Jewish Law: Halakhic Perspectives on the Legal Profession (Second Edition). In this book, R. Michael J. Broyde, Professor of Law at Emory University, founding rabbi of the Young Israel in Atlanta and a member dayan of the Beth Din of America, takes a fearless inside look at the ethical and halakhic issues facing the Jewish lawyer and anyone caught up in the American legal system.

What do you do when your religion conflicts with your obligations as a lawyer? This book systematically examines the ethical and halakhic issues raised by the many different facets of law practice, as well as other issues encountered by the Jewish lawyer.

Is a lawyer allowed to assist a client in pursuing claims contrary to Jewish law? May a lawyer cross-examine a witness he knows is telling the truth? Can he give advise a client to act in a way that is financially beneficial but constitutes a violation of Jewish law? R. Broyde answers these questions with his characteristic clarity, broad knowledge of Jewish law and deep understanding of the ethical dilemmas facing lawyers.

You can see pictures from the book's launch at:

This book is not only important reading for every Jewish lawyer but is also a fascinating study of the interaction between Torah and contemporary life. Find out more about this book at:


Now available from Yashar Books, Bach, Rabbi Joel Sirkes: His Life, Works and Times (expanded edition) by R. Elijah J. Schochet. Rabbi Joel Sirkes (1561-1640), better known by the acronym Bach, was one of the foremost Talmudic scholars and halakhists of Poland. He authored over 250 responsa as well as one of the premier commentaries upon the Arba'ah Turim of Rabbi Jacob ben Asher. Based on a careful analysis of Rabbi Sirkes' responsa and commentaries, Rabbi Schochet provides a vivid portrayal of the issues surrounding Polish Jewry at that time and Rabbi Sirkes' approach to Jewish law and thought.

Originally published in 1971, this unique biography is supplemented with a translation and analysis of an important lost responsum by Rabbi Sirkes which was published by Rabbi Schochet in 1973 under the title A Responsum of Surrender. This responsum explores the relationship between the Jewish and Christian communities in seventeenth century Poland.

You can learn more about this book and read an excerpt here:


Matteh Dan, or Kuzari Hasheini, is a defense of the Jewish oral tradition against attacks by Karaites and skeptics. Rabbi David Nieto, Chacham of the Sephardic congregation in London in the early eighteenth century, responded to criticisms of the rabbinic tradition by writing this wide-ranging defense of the Talmud and the Oral Law. Matteh Dan is widely considered a classic of Jewish apologetics in the best sense of the term and is still widely studied and quoted, even into our day. Although the field of heresy has unfortunately undergone much growth and development since R. Nieto’s time, his contribution remains important, and his arguments continue to ring true today.

Rabbi Meir Levin has translated this important work into a readable English and added explanatory footnotes to make the book even more accessible. The book comes with rabbinic approbations from R. Mordechai Willig, R. Simcha Schorr and R. Moshe Faskowitz.

You can explore this book further at:

An interesting historical footnote is that R. Nieto was himself accused of being a heretic by members of his congregation. They claimed that one of his sermons contained elements of Spinoza's heretical philosophy. They presented the matter to R. Tzvi Ashkenazi, the Chacham Tzvi, who declared R. Nieto to be innocent of the charges. A PDF of the pamphlet published in 1705 defending R. Nieto can be downloaded here:


This past November, the Israeli newspaper Hatzofeh published an interview with gynecologist Dr. Daniel Rosenak in which he called for a major change in the practice of the laws of niddah. He raised the possibility of no longer considering a niddah to a be possible zavah, which would shorten he time before a woman can go to the mikvah.

R. Chaim Jachter, in his Gray Matter volume 2, has an entire chapter on the subject. He notes that, "Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik (as reported by Rav Aharon Lichtenstein and Rav Yosef Adler), Rav Ovadia Yosef (Taharat Habayit 1:1:6), and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Teshuvot Minchat Shlomo 2:70:1:3) all cite the Ramban's aforementioned comments as proof that we may never waive the requirement for seven clean days, even when it interferes with conception" (p. 98). R. Jachter then lists a number of other halakhic and medical options that can solve many of the "Orthodox Infertility" problems.

This chapter was shortened and adapted into an Op-Ed in The Jewish Press in late December. You can read the complete Op-Ed here:

You can learn more about Gray Matter volume 2 here:


Yeshiva College's undergraduate newspaper The Commentator interviewed R. Yitzchak Etshalom about his recent book, Between the Lines of the Bible:

"Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom, who studied at RIETS in the early 80's, recently published his first book, Between the Lines of the Bible: A Study of the New School of Orthodox Torah Commentary, which will be available at this year's SOY Seforim Sale. Rabbi Etshalom agreed to sit down with The Commentator to discuss the publication.

"Commie: What makes Between the Lines unique?

"YE: Between the Lines presents a systematic program for reading Tanakh within the general framework of Masorah, while allowing breadth to enhance depth. In other words, by utilizing every possible tool available to us, we are able to discover new readings of the text, and that's what I tried to accomplish. This first volume deals with the book of Genesis.

"Commie: What has been the response to Between the Lines since it hit the stands in the spring?

"YE: Overall, the response has been far more positive than expected. Beyond the groups I expected to receive it positively, there has been a far more embracing welcome from "yeshivish" circles than I could have imagined, who have expressed an interest in engaging in literary analysis, utilizing archeological finds, comparing Ancient Near Eastern Texts, etc., and still arriving at novel yet "comfortable" conclusions. Among non-Jewish Bible students, oddly enough, the book presents far less of a novelty - except insofar as it comes from an Orthodox perspective with traditional sources and a revelationist outlook. Many Catholic and Protestant scholars have been taking somewhat similar approaches to the text, albeit without the benefit of Masorah.

"Commie: What about it do you think is particularly suited for the Yeshiva community? What need is it addressing?

"YE: To be blunt, every one of us, by embracing the Masorah and committing to conduct ourselves by the dictates of halakha, lives in a constant state of tension. Not only are the values of our society at odds with some of our most cherished beliefs, but the entire worldview espoused around us challenges us to reevaluate and reconsider our basic assumptions about many things. The tension which we all must contend with - from Teaneck to New Square! - is the sense of disharmony between wisdom and truth. One of the marvelous things about our Yeshiva is the manner in which Torah u-Madda not only coexist. Ideally they inform each other and cease being seen as a threat to each other. The epistemological approach which is the assumption of this book sits squarely in that tradition of critical harmonization of the "wisdom of the nations" with the truth."

Continue reading the interview here:
You can learn more about the book at:


It's almost Pesach time and since Yashar currently does not have any haggados for you to buy, I thought I'd introduce you to a fascinating haggadah that I recently purchased. The book actually has two names: in England it is called The Chief Rabbi's Haggadah and in other countries it is called Rabbi Jonathan Sacks's Haggadah. As you can imagine, it consists of Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' insights into the haggadah. The book has two sections. One contains 21 essays on themes related to Pesach and the haggadah. The other contains the text of the haggadah with a contemporary translation by R. Shlomo Riskin and, on the bottom, short insights from R. Sacks. As has become expected from the Chief Rabbi, the commentary is a stunning combination of brilliance and eloquence. Simple ideas are made profound through a clever turn of phrase and new perspectives, all from a deeply traditional mindset, are added on almost every page. In other words, highly recommended.


Here's a brief look into what is currently in the works at Yashar. A book-long study of the classic work of Jewish law and thought, Sefer Ha-Chinukh, is coming close to completion. What was the author trying to get at with his book and how did he do it? What enduring insights did the Chinukh add that had not been previously stated? And, for that matter, who wrote the book? That mystery is solved in an appendix to the book.

What impact has the phenomenon of students spending a post-high school year in Israel had on these students and the community? Yashar gathered three authors to address this issue: a psychologist, a sociologist and an expert on education. In separate studies, these three experts analyze based on studies what happens to students in Israel and after, and what happens to the community when they return.

R. Natan Slifkin is back with another book. His earlier book Mysterious Creatures, banned and entirely out of print, has been vastly expanded into two separate book. The first of these two, Sacred Monsters, explores mythical and fantastic creatures mentioned in the Bible and Talmud and tries to identify them.

Stay tuned for more about these books as publication approaches. All three should be in stores by the summer, if not sooner.

Please join us. "Books for Life" is meant to be your newsletter. Send us your thoughts on our books or suggestions for new ones. From time to time, we will quote reader's letters.

Thanks again for joining us!

Gil Student

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