Originally published in the Jewish Law Annual 4 (1981), p. 317.
B. Z. Uziel, Piske Uziel beshe’elot hazeman, Jerusalem: Mosad Harav Kook, 1977, Pp. 484.—Mosad Harav Kook has had the happy idea of publishing the legal decisions of the Rishon le-Tzion, Rabbi Uziel, on Halakhic questions raised in modern times as a result of new social conditions, the advance of science and technology and the like. An Orthodox authority of the highest rank, Chief Rabbi Uziel had an independent approach to the Halakhah, partly due to his Sephardi background and position. He takes issue, for example, with German Rabbis opposed to granting franchise to women on the grounds that it is ‘immodest’ (a breach of tseniut) for women to vote (pp. 224-234). Uziel roundly declares that if the Halakhah permits it, and he argues that it does, it is wrong to declare it forbidden on supposedly ethical grounds since this is to imply that the Halakhah is unethical. Naturally, such an attitude raises questions of its own regarding the relationship between law and ethics in Judaism. But it was not in Uziel’s brief to explore further this problem in a work of pure Halakhah. (A wider question also arises, whether there is any such thing as a ‘pure’ Halakhah apart from extra-legal considerations.) Other questions discussed are: the status in Jewish law of people married in a civil ceremony (432-455); the status of the Bene Israel (392-393); marriage with Karaite Jews (457-469); whether it is permitted to take a census of the Jewish population in view of Exodus 30:11-16 (215-219); whether a woman can be appointed as a judge (224-228); and the responsibilities of an employer to his employees (254-255). L.J.