A Guide to the Complex: Contemporary Halakhic Debates By Shlomo M. Brody

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010915_mishmash_bookOne of the most beautiful aspects about Jewish life is its diversity — the tapestry of colors that make up how Jews around the world practice Jewish tradition and its laws. Yet, it is this very diversity that is contentious or often divisive and charged, especially when people begin to deliberate whose observance carries more halachic, Jewish legal legitimacy.

For columnist and educator Rabbi Shlomo Brody, appreciating shivim panim l’torah — which in a literal sense means the 70 faces of the Torah, but in a practical sense refers to the Torah’s numerous possible interpretations — begins with giving popular access to the historical, legal and theological sources that impact halachic discourse.

Brody’s debut book, which is based on his popular newspaper column, features 134 concise
essays on today’s most provocative issues in Jewish law. These issues include abortion, paternity and DNA testing, downloading from the Internet, organ donation, the “protective power” of the red string, kol isha (female singing), female rabbinic ordination, fleeing Israel during wartime, fertility treatments, stem cell research, conversion standards and more.

“Many Jews want to be knowledgeable about the hot topics of debate within Jewish law,
but frequently don’t have the time to properly research the nuances and complexities of the
disputes,” says Brody. ”I wanted to create a book that was sufficiently in-depth to be informative even for rabbis, yet concise and accessible so that anyone could use it for passionate discussions around the Shabbat table or in college dorm rooms.”

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