The Narrow Halakhic Bridge – A Vision of Jewish Law in the Post-Modern Age
by Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Halakhic Challenges of our Generation
- Halakhah in Existential Danger
- Post-Modernity and Spiritual Developments in Israel and the World
- From Destruction to Rebuilding
- Purpose, Style and Structure
Chapter One: What is Halakhah?
- Halakhah as an Interpretive Tradition
- Halakhah as an Encounter with the Divine
- Halakhah and the Nature of Life
- Halakhah as the Bridge between Torah and Life
- Where Should Halakhah be Going?
Chapter Two: Is Halakhah Truth?
- Is the ‘Truth’ of Halakhah Absolute?
- Love Truth and Peace
- Can Rabbis Make Mistakes?
- Objective and Subjective Truth
- What is the place of Divine Truth in Halakhic Psak?
Chapter Three: On Machloket and Peace
- The Creation of Machloket and Adam’s Sin
- The Value of Machloket
- Torah Scholars Increase Peace?!
- The Limits of Pluralism and Extremism
- Machloket for the Sake of Heaven
- Make a Rabbi for Yourself
Chapter Four: Who Has the Authority to Decide Halakhah?
- The Source of Authority to Decide Halakhah
- The Limits of Authority in Deciding Halakhah
- You Only Have the Posek in your Generation
- The Difference between a Rosh Yeshiva and a Community Rabbi
- The Posek as Leader
Chapter Five: The Requirement to Obey Poskim
- Sources of Rabbinic Authority
- Is One Obligated to Blindly Obey the Rabbis?
- The Requirement to Obey in a World Without a Sanhedrin
- What is ‘Da’at Torah‘?
- The Difference between Politics and Emunat Chakhamim
- “That the Name of Heaven Should Become Beloved by Your Actions”
Chapter Six: Behind the Scenes of the Halakhic Process
- A Short Tour of the Posek’s ‘Laboratory’
- The Balance Between the Rules of Psak and the Posek’s Discretion
- Which Ruling is Preferable – Earlier or Later Rabbis?
- When May One Rely on a Solitary Opinion?
- Is it Permissible to Disagree with the Shulchan Arukh?
- The Difference Between Communal Psak and Public Psak
- Leniencies and Stringencies, the Slippery Slope, and the Golden Mean
- Halakhic ‘Meta-Principles’
- Halakhah’s Flexigidity
Chapter Seven: The Development of Halakhah Throughout History
- The Giving of the Oral Torah
- From the First to the Second Temple Period
- The Development of Machlokot at the End of the Second Temple Period
- The Travails of the Exile and their Impact on the Process of Psak.
- The Pendular Movement of the Centers of Psak: Between Community and Yeshiva
- How did the Shulchan Arukh Gain its Supreme Halakhic Authority?
- Halakhah, Minhag, and Tradition
- If its Rationale is No Longer Relevant, is the Decree Revoked?
- The Influence of Societal Changes on Halakhah
Chapter Eight: Halakhic Challenges of Our Generation
- Halakhic Decision-Making in the Generation of the “Beginning of Redemption”
- Laws of a Jewish State
- Science, Medicine and Halakhah
- The Impact of Technological Advances on Halakhah
- The Values of Ethics, Liberalism, and Equality in Halakhah
- The Changes in the Status of Women and their Influence on the Process of Psak
- Halakhic Decision-Making in the Age of the Internet and Social Media
- Halakhah and Postmodernism
Chapter Nine: Applications and Ramifications
- Civil Marriage in Israel
- Conversion in Israel
- Receiving Donations from Christians for the State of Israel
- Grappling with the Agunah Problem
- Women in the Synagogue
- Women’s Singing in the Contemporary Era
- Wigs – Valid Hair-Covering or a Ruse?
- The Religious Community’s Attitude to Members of the LGBT Community
Afterword: From Challenge to Vision