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

  1. Halakhah in Existential Danger
  2. Post-Modernity and Spiritual Developments in Israel and the World
  3. From Destruction to Rebuilding
  4. Purpose, Style and Structure

Chapter One: What is Halakhah?

  1. Halakhah as an Interpretive Tradition
  2. Halakhah as an Encounter with the Divine
  3. Halakhah and the Nature of Life
  4. Halakhah as the Bridge between Torah and Life
  5. Where Should Halakhah be Going?

 Chapter Two: Is Halakhah Truth?

  1. Is the ‘Truth’ of Halakhah Absolute?
  2. Love Truth and Peace
  3. Can Rabbis Make Mistakes?
  4. Objective and Subjective Truth
  5. What is the place of Divine Truth in Halakhic Psak?

Chapter Three: On Machloket and Peace

  1. The Creation of Machloket and Adam’s Sin
  2. The Value of Machloket
  3. Torah Scholars Increase Peace?!
  4. The Limits of Pluralism and Extremism
  5. Machloket for the Sake of Heaven
  6. Make a Rabbi for Yourself

 Chapter Four: Who Has the Authority to Decide Halakhah?

  1. The Source of Authority to Decide Halakhah
  2. The Limits of Authority in Deciding Halakhah
  3. You Only Have the Posek in your Generation
  4. The Difference between a Rosh Yeshiva and a Community Rabbi
  5. The Posek as Leader

 Chapter Five: The Requirement to Obey Poskim

  1. Sources of Rabbinic Authority
  2. Is One Obligated to Blindly Obey the Rabbis?
  3. The Requirement to Obey in a World Without a Sanhedrin
  4. What is ‘Da’at Torah‘?
  5. The Difference between Politics and Emunat Chakhamim
  6. “That the Name of Heaven Should Become Beloved by Your Actions”

 Chapter Six: Behind the Scenes of the Halakhic Process

  1. A Short Tour of the Posek’s ‘Laboratory’
  2. The Balance Between the Rules of Psak and the Posek’s Discretion
  3. Which Ruling is Preferable – Earlier or Later Rabbis?
  4. When May One Rely on a Solitary Opinion?
  5. Is it Permissible to Disagree with the Shulchan Arukh?
  6. The Difference Between Communal Psak and Public Psak
  7. Leniencies and Stringencies, the Slippery Slope, and the Golden Mean
  8. Halakhic ‘Meta-Principles’
  9. Halakhah’s Flexigidity

 Chapter Seven: The Development of Halakhah Throughout History

  1. The Giving of the Oral Torah
  2. From the First to the Second Temple Period
  3. The Development of Machlokot at the End of the Second Temple Period
  4. The Travails of the Exile and their Impact on the Process of Psak.
  5. The Pendular Movement of the Centers of Psak: Between Community and Yeshiva
  6. How did the Shulchan Arukh Gain its Supreme Halakhic Authority?
  7. Halakhah, Minhag, and Tradition
  8. If its Rationale is No Longer Relevant, is the Decree Revoked?
  9. The Influence of Societal Changes on Halakhah

 Chapter Eight: Halakhic Challenges of Our Generation

  1. Halakhic Decision-Making in the Generation of the “Beginning of Redemption”
  2. Laws of a Jewish State
  3. Science, Medicine and Halakhah
  4. The Impact of Technological Advances on Halakhah
  5. The Values of Ethics, Liberalism, and Equality in Halakhah
  6. The Changes in the Status of Women and their Influence on the Process of Psak
  7. Halakhic Decision-Making in the Age of the Internet and Social Media
  8. Halakhah and Postmodernism

 Chapter Nine: Applications and Ramifications

  1. Civil Marriage in Israel
  2. Conversion in Israel
  3. Receiving Donations from Christians for the State of Israel
  4. Grappling with the Agunah Problem
  5. Women in the Synagogue
  6. Women’s Singing in the Contemporary Era
  7. Wigs – Valid Hair-Covering or a Ruse?
  8. The Religious Community’s Attitude to Members of the LGBT Community

 Afterword: From Challenge to Vision

 

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