Books For Life Newsletter
Volume 1, Number 7

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Dear friends,

Shalom U-vrakhah! Welcome to the much-anticipated Issue Number 7 of 'Sefer Ha-Hayim - Books for Life' Newsletter. In this issue you will find out about some new books, including works that have not yet been publicly announced. You will also learn about some unpublicized discounts, interesting blog posts, free material available online, and more...

Thank you,

Gil Student
President, Yashar Books

Find out more about Yashar Books at

Vol. 1, No. 7


1. Two New Books
2. Blog Posts of Interest
3. Coming Soon from Yashar Books
4. Advance Excerpt from Gray Matter volume 2
5. Special Online Discounts Available
6. Giving Away More Books Online
7. YU Seforim Sale


Yashar Books is proud to announce the publication of Rabbi Aaron Levine's new book Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law. This 650-page study is an important and timely analysis of common ethical issues from the perspective of Jewish and secular law. By use of the case study method, this book presents and analyzes moral dilemmas of the marketplace from the perspective of American law, secular business ethics, and Jewish law. Rabbi Levine takes a number of professions -- including sales, marketing, and the rabbinate -- and subjects their common moral dilemmas to the ethical compass of the Torah, using lomdus and extensive citations from contemporary poskim. This book is an important reference volume and can be used as a textbook for courses on ethics. You can find out more about this book at:

Not yet officially announced is the publication of Medicine and Jewish Law volume III, edited by Drs. Fred Rosner and Robert Schulman. This book is a compilation of papers delivered at a conference of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists and includes discussions of such relevant topics as genetic screening, cloning, infertility, organ transplants from pigs, and much more. Contributors include Dr. Fred Rosner, Rabbi J. David Bleich, Dr. Edward Reichman, Dr. Abraham S. Abraham, Dr. Mordechai Halperin, and others. The book may already be in your local bookstore! You can find out more about this book at:

Both of these books are part of the growing Yashar Ethics Series that includes such important works as Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman's masterpiece on interpersonal ethics The Right and the Good: Halakhah and Human Relations and Menahem Glenn's important biography Rabbi Israel Salanter: Religious-Ethical Thinker. More information about this series is available at:


Lately, blogs seem to be all the rage and Yashar Books is in the middle of it all. Here are some links to posts on the Sefer Ha-Hayim Blog with some brief summaries:

Links to articles in the media about Rabbi Nosson Slifkin:
1) The Case of the Poison Sandwich
2) Quoting Secondary Sources
3) Pressure Tactics of Charity Telemarketers
4) A 13-minute podcast about the book
5) John Johnson's Questionable Methods

Excerpts from and discussions of Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law:
1) Moment Magazine
2) The Scientist
3) New Jersey Jewish News
4) While not technically about Rabbi Slifkin or a blog post, the Rabbinical Council of America's recent statement about evolution
5) John Johnson's Questionable Methods


Yashar has a number of books in progress at this time. Very close to publication are two works that you will find particularly interesting. Rabbi Chaim Jachter has been writing halakhah articles for his school's student publication for a number of years. Posted on the web (, Rabbi Jachter's "Halacha Files" have been very well-received due to their clarity, thoroughness, and -- perhaps most importantly -- his citation of authorities from throughout the spectrum of Orthodoxy, including Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionist scholars who are often omitted from halakhic compilations. His first book, Gray Matter, broke important ground in English halakhic literature. His second volume will be ready in time for the YU Seforim Sale (more on that below) and will include discussions of the Beit Din process (including whether one can use lawyers, when one can refuse a summons, and more), how the Beth Din of America handled the World Trade Center agunah cases, the details of kashering common kitchen appliances, the use of electricity in the fulfillment of mitzvot, and much more.

Also in the final stages of production is Where There's Life, There's Life by Rabbi David M. Feldman. In this book, Rabbi Feldman makes the case for life's intrinsic preciousness and does so, first, by guiding us through the details of pikkuach nefesh -- the principle in Jewish law that sets saving of life and health above all else. He then illustrates this life-affirming perspective by means of a comprehensive exploration of abortion, euthanasia, and the right to die, martyrdom, the mandate to heal, the mind-body connection, embryonic stem cell research, and organ transplants. He leads us with edifying expertise, but in an eminently readable style, through an analysis of pro-natalism, new reproductive technology, even the death penalty and the writing of Living Wills. This book is sure to become a standard text regarding the care of the ill and the elderly, affirming life's preciousness while taking into account life's difficulties.


Why Don’t We Use Electric Chanukah Menorahs?
(Footnotes omitted)

Common practice has developed to refrain from lighting electric menorahs as Chanukah candles. This chapter focuses on the reasons for this practice.

People often wonder why electric menorahs cannot be used on Chanukah. After all, lighting an incandescent bulb on Shabbat constitutes a forbidden act of hav’arah (creating a fire) on a biblical level, so Halachah apparently considers a lit incandescent bulb to be a fire. In fact, most authorities agree that one can fulfill the mitzvah of lighting Shabbat or Yom Tov candles with incandescent lights... Of course, only lights with a glowing metal filament, such as incandescent bulbs, merit any consideration as Chanukah candles. By contrast, it appears that fluorescent or LED lights would surely not fulfill the mitzvah, because “cold” lights cannot be considered fire. Assuming that Shabbat and Chanukah require the same form of candles, logic would suggest that incandescent bulbs, though, could be used on Chanukah.

Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank (Teshuvot Har Tzvi, Orach Chaim 2:114:2) suggests that the mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles requires a kindling action (ma’aseh hadlakah), and switching on an electric bulb falls short of fulfilling this requirement. Rav Ovadia Hadayah supports Rav Frank’s approach. He explains that Shabbat candles must provide light in order to make Shabbat enjoyable (oneg Shabbat), so an incandescent bulb-a “fire” that results in the emission of light-fulfills that mitzvah, even though it was not lit by a full-fledged act of kindling. By contrast, Chanukah candles are clearly not meant to provide light for a functional purpose, because one may not benefit from their light (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 673:1). Accordingly, Rav Hadayah argues that the essence of their mitzvah is the act of kindling itself (see Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 673:2 and 675:1). Hence, electric bulbs, which Rav Hadayah believes emit light without an act of kindling, satisfy the mitzvah of Shabbat candles but not the mitzvah of Chanukah candles. Nevertheless, many authorities reject Rav Frank’s claim and assume that turning on a light bulb constitutes a full-fledged act of kindling.

Rav Eliezer Waldenberg (Teshuvot Tzitz Eliezer 1:20:12) questions whether an incandescent bulb may be used for Chanukah since its filament is shaped like an arc, rather than a straight wick. Thus, an electric bulb resembles a torch, whereas Chanukah candles must contain one single wick each (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 671:4). The Kaf Hachaim (O.C. 673:19) similarly writes that a light bulb constitutes a torch because the entire bulb lights up...

For a myriad of reasons, the overwhelming majority of halachic authorities object to lighting electric menorahs as Chanukah candles. Nevertheless, many poskim advise that one who lacks any access whatsoever to proper candles, such as an airplane passenger, a hospital patient, or an active soldier, should light an incandescent menorah-or even a flashlight-without reciting a berachah. One should consult a competent Rav regarding such situations in order to determine in each case whether it is preferable for the passenger, patient, or soldier to light a flashlight in his current location or to have someone else light proper candles on his behalf in his regular home, or both.

(For a summary of the reasons omitted here, see this blog post:


Save $10 if you purchase two important books on ethics today. Buy Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law and The Right and the Good: Halakhah and Human Relations at the Yashar Books website and save. Look for the link under the picture of Moral Issues

Readers of this newsletter qualify for the special Blog discount for Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law. Follow this link and purchase the book at a 10% discount: Feel free to share that discount with your friends by sending them this e-mail.


Yashar Books has continued its Open Access Project, posting more Torah material for free download. Recent material includes Rabbi Gidon Rothstein's Harvard doctoral dissertation about the major shift in the fifteenth in terms of commentary to Pirkei Avot, Rabbi Jay Derovan's collection of essays for Tishrei, and an English translation of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner's forceful defense of religious Zionism. Find it all at:

See here for a write-up of the Open Access Project in Yeshiva University's almuni publication YU Review:


Yeshiva University's SOY Seforim Sale is just around the corner, in a little over a month. Beginning on February 9th and continuing through the 26th, it is the largest Judaic book sale in North America. It is run by students of Yeshiva University and is known to have an excellent selection and great prices. Yashar Books will be well represented there and I will be stopping by frequently.

Rabbi Aaron Levine, author of Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law, is scheduled to speak. I will put more detail about that on the Yashar website when it becomes available. More information about the sale can be found at:

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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