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.
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 Rabbi Moshe Shapiro, Mr. Zalman Alpert and Mr. Zvi Erenyi of the Mendel Gottesman Library for their constant helpfulness; to Mrs. Racheline Habousha of the library of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine for her unfailing graciousness in expediting my many requests; to Professor Richard White for making his scholarly expertise available at all times; to my secretary at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Miss Kaaron Saphir, for her patience and understanding; to Mr. Erik L. Wilson for his assiduous assistance in my research and for his work on the index of this volume; to my esteemed friend, Mr. Ernest Grunebaum, for noting typographical errors in earlier publications of this material; and most especially to my granddaughter Hadassah Gurwitz whose thorough and meticulous proofreading and incisive observations have spared this work from many inadvertent errors; and last, but certainly not least, to my students for their relentless and provocative questioning.
My gratitude to the publisher of this series, the indefatigable Mr. Bernard Scharfstein, for his unfailing indulgence, good humor and patience as well as for his warm friendship spanning the decades of our relationship; my thanks also to Adam Bengal of Ktav Publishing House and Janice Weiss of TypeWorks for their painstaking efforts in shepherding the manuscript through the various stages of 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.