Chief Rabbi of South Africa Dr. Goldstein has written an intriguing book, developed as an outgrowth of his doctoral dissertation. Its thesis is that Judaism, as traditionally interpreted, reflects both historically and currently an extraordinary sensitivity and vision for a moral society that is predicated on caring for and protecting the rights of those most vulnerable. Goldstein compares Jewish law with both American and South African law on a variety of issues, all related to what he calls the Vulnerability Principle: our divinely-commanded obligation to remember the ways in which we as a people and as individual Jews are and have been vulnerable, and thus, our moral and legal obligation to protect those in our midst who are vulnerable. Citing a full range of Jewish texts from the Torah itself all the way through contemporary writings of leading Orthodox rabbinic authorities — in addition to ancient and contemporary legal citations — he examines such issues as: the structure and functions of government, political tyranny, martial rape and the status of women, poverty, vagrancy, charity and state-supported welfare. Less of a sweeping philosophical work and more of an in-depth comparative legal analysis, Goldstein’s book will be of great interest to scholars, students of the law and lay persons alike.
William Liss-Levinson is vice president, chief strategy & operations officer of Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., a consumer health research, information, and publishing company. He holds a Ph.D. in education and is a member of the board of directors of the Jewish Book Council.