This volume, one in a series on Jewish ethical dilemmas, regards the personal relationship one has with his own physique. The book is designed to provide a platform for discussion of some of the most contemporary, and I’m sure, rabbinically unanticipated problems faced by the contemporary Jew.
The book is divided into three sections. The first offers a short case history describing the ethical conundrum; for example, whether halachically it is permissible to get a tattoo. The case is followed by offering Rabbinic and Talmudic, and then contemporary, responses to the case. These are in fact short responsa and run the gamut from Maimonides to Rashi to Gloria Steinem. The second part is a symposium, offering scholarly articles on the issues relevant to each case history. The last part of the book is a summation of all that was previously discussed, written by the editors.
The book succeeds on several levels. It need not be read cover-to-cover or even consecutively; each case history or article can be read independently, depending on the reader’s interest. The articles themselves are relevant and well-written. The responses to each case are succinct and well-referenced, almost as a mini Shulchan Arukh; the reader may easily seek them out if expanded information is desired.
The only downside is that the volume is too short; one wishes for more case histories and the attendant discussion that follows. The reader’s ringside seat as he “wrestles with G‑d” is over too quickly.