Weekly Freebies: R Shaul Yisraeli

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R. Shaul Yisraeli was a leading Religious Zionist dayan and halakhic authority. He was a rosh yeshiva in Merkaz HaRav and later founded the Eretz Hemdah kollel. He edited the journals Barkai and Ha-Torah Ve-Ha-Medinah, and served on the editorial board of the Da’as Mikra series. A longer bio can be found here: link. The following of his books can be found on HebrewBooks:

See prior freebies here: link

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student currently is serving his third term on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and also serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazineand the Board of OU Press. He has published four English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.


  1. I thought this Rabbi wasn’t Kosher??

  2. He was a Gadol of the highest order.

  3. Then why do some of your friends say that we can’t follow his psak Halacha?

  4. No one I know says that

  5. I apologize for my statement at # 1.

    for some reason, I got confused with Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen.

  6. Ye’yasher kochakhem R. Student and respondents.

    Yes, there is some level of disagreement between R. Yisraeli and R. Bleich (-and, obviously, ve-amekh kulam tzaddikim). In Tradition 24:3 (Spring 1989), R. Bleich writes (p. 58) that R. Yisraeli submitted a letter to the editor of Or ha-Mizrach attempting to defend the ruling of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate equating brain death with death, but the letter was never published. Although R. Bleich does not explain why the letter was never published, I would speculate that the editor was so persuaded by R. Bleich’s analysis (which had been previously published in Hebrew in Or ha-Mizrach) that he didn’t feel R. Yisraeli’s counter-thesis even merited publication.

    R. Bleich’s description of R. Yisraeli’s unpublished letter to the editor is repeated in Contemporary Halakhic Problems Vol. 4 (KTAV Publishing, 1995), p. 342. Apparently, then, six years after R. Bleich’s original article, the editor of Or ha-Mizrah continued to maintain that R. Yisraeli’s letter should not be published. Interestingly, though, in the 1995 installment, R. Bleich (among several updates he orchestrates to his essay) deletes a sentence that he had published on p. 59 of his Tradition article six years previously. Namely, he had written regarding R. Moshe Feinstein that

    “Moreover, his son, R. David Feinstein, is quoted in the Tishri 5748 issue of Ha-Pardes as declaring that at no time did his father retract his earlier opinion in opposition to acceptance of brain death criteria”.

    I would speculate that R. Bleich deleted this sentence six years later because – in the interim period of six years – R. David Feinstein signed a letter (described on the HODS website) testifying that he heard his father claim that a person is considered dead if he cannot breathe, even if circulation continues. The contradictory messages emanating from R. David Feinstein are finally resolved by R. David Feinstein’s video-taped HODS interview (produced some time in 2004 or 2005), where R. David Feinstein clarifies that although his father regarded a brain death patient as alive, that was true only so long as the brain dead patient could autonomously breathe, viz. when the patient is in a persistent vegetative state.

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