OU Press, the publishing division of the Orthodox Union, announces the publication of Dovid Lichtenstein’s Headlines: Halachic Debates of Current Events.
Orthodox Jews are not strangers to controversy. Media attention, welcome or otherwise, is a regular feature of life for our community, and provides rich material for debate and discussion, both in our real human interactions as well as in our virtual ones. In these debates — whether the question is a new technology previously unimagined or the proper course of action in a difficult situation — the question is often what halacha (Jewish law) has to say about the issue.
In Headlines, Dovid Lichtenstein, a successful businessman who is also an accomplished talmid chacham, takes these news items as a starting point for impressively researched halachic analyses of contemporary questions. Employing the classical yeshiva method of learning, combined with clear language and a broad scope, he addresses issues that have come to the forefront of discussion in our community and beyond. Following this method, he finds relevant and often original analogues for new situations in classic halachic sources.
Unafraid of controversy, Lichtenstein persuasively presents his point of view on many of the most contentious issues of today. Here is a small sample of the chapters in this wide ranging book:
- Shooting down a hijacked plane: Is it permissible to sacrifice the lives of some people to save the lives of many others?
- Is it permitted for an Orthodox rabbi to attend a presidential inauguration in a church?
- Alternatives to cattle prods: Is there a better solution to the agunah problem?
- Is one allowed to vote for a candidate whose platform supports Torah prohibitions?
- Is there an obligation to rescue people who ignored evacuation warnings during Hurricane Sandy?
- Does halacha forbid reporting suspected child molesters, or require it?
- What is the halachic status of lab-created beef?
The author’s approach provides twofold benefits: First, it moves us away from the pitfall of deciding contentious issues on the basis of passion alone. Instead, this book provides halachic sources and arguments as the basis for its conclusions. The reader may agree or disagree with the author’s conclusions, but the discussions will surely provide a helpful halachic framework for further consideration of the issues. Second, by taking classic sources and applying them to new realities, this book creates a unique intellectual excitement. The experience of learning these sources is transformed by appreciating their relevance to modern situations.
In discussing these and many other topics, the author fulfills the vision he sets forth in his introduction for Torah Judaism which does not separate from the world, but instead uses the Torah’s wisdom to engage with the world.
This book, the latest from OU Press, furthers the mission of OU Press in publishing books which make use of the power of our tradition to engage the modern world. In keeping with this goal, OU Press publishes the works of thinkers such as Rabbis Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Norman Lamm, Jonathan Sacks, and others who recognize the significant contribution the Torah should make to contemporary society.