Title: Contemporary Halakhic Problems: Volume 7
By Rabbi J. David Bleich
One of the tasks of a fact checker is to examine the statements and sources in the draft of a book, and make any needed corrections before it goes to print. In the recently published Contemporary Halakhic Problems: Volume 7, author Rabbi J. David Bleich has written a fabulous work that would likely take a team of fact checkers months to complete. This is due to his encyclopedic use of an encyclopedic all-encompassing set of halachic and scientific sources.
Rabbi Bleich is a noted posek who is a prolific author on many topics, with a specialty in bioethics. The first volume of Contemporary Halakhic Problems came out 40 years ago and each one has touched on topical and salient ideas.
Here in volume 7, Rabbi Bleich writes on a diverse set of fascinating topics such as the kashrus of stem-cell burgers, using cameras to certify milk as cholov Yisroel or to deal with yichud, medical and cosmetic tattooing, vaccinations and much more.
In reading this sefer, one is awestruck by the Rabbi Bleich’s vast knowledge of not just shas and poskim, but also of current science. In the section on cochlear implants and halacha, he details the external components of the implant and contrasts them to hearing aids. He then shows how the two devices are different, and how the halacha relates to and deals with each of them.
One of the more forceful and vital chapters is towards the end of the book when Rabbi Bleich discusses vaccinations. He is fervent that a parent who does not vaccinate their child is putting them in danger. He concludes the chapter by explicitly stating that vaccinations of one’s children is unquestionably a parental responsibility.
There are very few books in English from a scholar of the caliber of Rabbi Bleich. In Contemporary Halakhic Problems: Volume 7, he has written an absolutely fascinating and engaging book of rare scholarship that is definitely worth reading.