THE IMPORTANCE OF THE COMMUNITY RABBI: Leading with Compassionate Halachah

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE COMMUNITY RABBI: Leading with Compassionate Halachah
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    THE IMPORTANCE OF THE COMMUNITY RABBI: Leading with Compassionate Halachah
    by Rabbi Daniel Sperber
    Foreword by Rabbi Dov Linzer and Chaim Trachtman MD

    Hardcover, 367 Pages
    Urim Publications, Lindenbaum Center for Halakhic Studies, 2020
    ISBN: 978-965-524-238-6

    The contemporary rabbi is influenced by the modern rabbinic establishments throughout the world, including the rabbinate in Israel. The rabbinate's monopoly on opinions and interpretations prevents rabbis from expressing their individual positions out of fear of delegitimization. The current structure gives the public a negative impression of the rabbinic establishment. The Importance of the Community Rabbi strives to describe and delineate key requirements for a good rabbi, i.e., one who can provide socially acceptable halachic solutions within the parameters of Orthodox thinking. Rabbi Sperber elucidates the halachic techniques and mechanisms that may be used toward this goal. These are further illustrated with stories from rabbinic literature and examples from various responsa. 


    About the Author:
    Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber is a leading scholar of Jewish law, customs, and ethics. He taught in the Talmud Department of Bar-Ilan University, where he also served as dean of the Faculty of Jewish Studies and president of the Jesselson Institute for Advanced Torah Studies. In 1992, he was awarded the Israel Prize for Jewish Studies. Prof. Sperber currently serves as rabbi of the Menachem Zion Synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem. 
    The descendant of a line of distinguished Orthodox rabbis, Prof. Sperber was born in 1940 in a castle in Ruthin, Wales, and studied in the Yeshivot of Kol Torah and Hevron in Jerusalem. He earned a BA in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art and received a PhD in classics, ancient history, and Hebrew studies from University College, London.
    Prof. Sperber has published more than thirty books and four hundred articles on the subjects of Talmud and Jewish socio-economic history, law and customs, classical philology, and Jewish art. Among his major works is a well-known, eight-volume series, Minhagei Yisrael, on the history of Jewish customs. More recently, he has written books on halachic methodology and rabbinic decision-making in confrontation with modernity, and has established an independent beit din dealing with agunah issues. He is the author of On Changes in Jewish Liturgy: Options and Limitations; On the Relationship of Mitzvot Between Man and His Neighbor and Man and His Maker, and Rabba, Maharat, Rabbanit, Rebbetzin: Women with Leadership Authority According to Halachah.

    Rabbi Dov Linzer is the President and Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, and is the primary architect of its groundbreaking curriculum. Rabbi Linzer has been a leading rabbinic voice in the Modern Orthodox community for over 20 years. He hosts a number of highly popular podcasts, including "Joy of Text," "Iggros Moshe A to Z," and his "Daf Yomi" podcast, covering all of shas. Rabbi Linzer has published many Torah articles, writes a widely-read weekly parsha sheet, and authors teshuvot on a wide range of contemporary halachic topics. He teaches regular classes in advanced Talmud, advanced halachah and the thought of Modern Orthodoxy, and serves as a religious guide to the yeshiva's current rabbinical students and over 125 rabbis serving in the field. 

    Chaim Trachtman is chief of pediatric nephrology at NYU Langone Medical Center. He is on the board of Yeshivat Maharat and is editor of the book Women and Men in Communal Prayer: Halakhic Perspectives (KTAV, 2010)


    Contents:
    Foreword
    by Rabbi Dov Linzer and Chaim Trachtman MD
    The Ludwig and Erica Jesselson Institute for Advanced Torah Studies at Bar-Ilan University
    by R. Shimon Altshul
    Preface
    Introduction
    Dynamism in Halachah
    Halachah and Modernity
    I. The "Friendly" Pesak
    Fundamental Values in Halachah
    Applications of These Values: Halachic Adjudication
    Its Ways Are the Ways of Pleasantness
    Sensitivity to Personal Feelings
    Human Dignity
    Care Not to Shame or Embarrass
    Leniency to Prevent Distress and Suffering
    Beyond the Letter of the Law
    Adaptability of Halachah to Changing Circumstances
    Conflict Between Legal Formalism and Morality
    Compassion and Casting a Blind Eye
    Searching aSource for an Ethical Directive
    Encouraging Repentance
    Summary of the "Friendly" Pesak
    II. The "Friendly" Posek
    The Unfriendly Rabbi
    First Story: The Winds of Man
    Second Story: A Stained Reputation
    Third Story: Halachic Morality
    Fourth Story: The Ugly Man
    Fifth Story: The Ignorant Jew
    Sixth Story: Charcoal and Distress
    III. The Friendly Rabbi
    First Story: Hillel
    Second Story: R. Meir
    Power of Leniency
    Not to Prohibit the Permitted and the Sin of Indolence in Adjudication
    Sensitivity to the "Have-Nots"
    Knowing the Needs of Others
    Communal Involvement
    An Independent Stance
    Summary: The Requirements of the Contemporary Rabbi
    Appendices
    Appendix 1: Three Examples of Sensitivity and Compassion in Psak
    Introductory Note
    The Dumb
    The Blind
    The Deaf
    Appendix 2: On Leniency in Halachah
    Appendix 3: On the Legitimacy of Halachic Innovation 
    Appendix 4: On the Necessity of a Rabbi Having an Independent Stance
    Appendix 5: An Example of Compassion without Compromise
    Appendix 6: "Its Ways Are the Ways of Pleasantness" and "Charitable Interpretation"
    Indices
    Subject Index
    Name Index
    Source Index 
    About the Authors

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