As was the case with the earlier volumes in this series, much of the material presented in this volume originally appeared in my "Survey of Recent Halakhic Periodical Literature" which is regularly featured in the columns of Tradition. Many of those items have been expanded and amplified for presentation in their present form. Portions of this work served as the subject matter of shi'urim and seminars on behalf of the students of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and its Kollel le-Hora'ah as well as of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. The ongoing support of the Leonard and Bea Diener Institute of Jewish Law in facilitating my investigation of the application of Jewish law to contemporary legal and moral issues is gratefully acknowledged.
This work is not intended to serve as a practical halakhic guide and, indeed, no attempt has been made to present definitive psak halakhah. It is devoted to an analysis of Halakhah and halakhic reasoning rather than to definitive statements of halakhic determinations. As such, it is directed primarily to those who have at least some background in the study of rabbinic literature but lack the requisite skills or the leisure to assimilate and analyze the maze of responsa pertaining to the topics treated in this volume. It is intended as an invitation to the reader to join in the noblest of Jewish activities and the supremest of joys—the study of Torah.
I wish to express my thanks to my brother-in-law, Rabbi Mordecai Ochs, for his painstaking reading of the manuscript; to my son, Rabbi Dr. Moshe Bleich, for drawing my attention to sources that otherwise would have eluded me and for his many valuable insights; to my distinguished colleague, Professor Steven Resnikoff of De Paul University School of Law, for his erudite comments; to Rabbi Moshe Shapiro, Mr. Zalman Alpert and Mr. Zvi Erenyi of the Mendel Gottesman Library for their constant helpfulness; to Rabbi Menashe Shapiro for his research assistance; to Dr. Mark Licht for his efforts and expertise in clarifying matters pertaining to contact lenses; to my secretary at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Miss Kaaron Saphir, for her patience and understanding; to my esteemed friend, Mr. Ernest Grunebaum, for noting typographical errors in earlier publications of this material; and especially to my students for their incisive and relentless questioning.
My gratitude also to the publisher of the first four volumes of this series, Mr. Bernard Scharfstein of Ktav Publishing House, for his warm friendship and generous cooperation. Those volumes remain available from Ktav Publishing House, Jersey City, New Jersey.
Particular thanks are due to the publisher of the present volume, Rabbi Moshe Dombey, for his unfailing indulgence and forbearance; to Mr. Yaakov Feldheim for introducing me to Rabbi Dombey and Targum Press; to Mrs. Chaya Baila Gavant for her painstaking efforts and good humor in shepherding this complex manuscript through the various stages of publication; and to the staff of Targum Press, especially Mrs. Diane Liff and Rabbi Yehuda Aharon Horovitz, for their meticulous efforts in enhancing the usefulness and attractiveness of this publication.
Above all, I am grateful to the Almighty for my cherished collaborators — the members of my family. Our prayer to the Almighty is that we continue to be numbered among the mashkimim le-divrei Torah and, to paraphrase the words of the hadran, ke-shem she-'azartanu le-sayyem sefer zeh, ken ta'azrenu le-hatḥil sefarim aḥerim u-le-sayyemam, lilmod u-le-lamed, lishmor ve-la'asot u-le-kayyem.