RECENT RELEASE! Alternative Medicine in Halachah

June 20, 2017

There’s a woman I know who has been trying for years to lose weight, mostly without too much success. Weight Watchers, Fit for Life, Atkin’s, exercise—you name it, she’s tried it.

“I’ve had it with these diets that don’t work for me!” she once complained to me. “You know what I really want to try—something that might actually get rid of the extra pounds?” Without waiting for my response, she went on, “Kinesiology. That’s what I want to try.”

Er, okay…now, what’s that?

Seeing my blank look, she explained that kinesiology is some kind of alternative therapy that helps pinpoint—and correct—certain imbalances in the body, which could go a long way toward figuring out why all of her diets weren’t working and what she could do differently in order to lose weight.

“Sounds good,” I told her. “So…why don’t you go for it?”

“I can’t,” she said. “My husband won’t let, because it might involve issurim of avodah zarah.”

Whoa. I was not going to argue with that one!

I thought of this conversation when I saw the new book released recently by Israel Bookshop, Alternative Medicine in Halachah, by Rabbi Raphael Szmerla. Unbeknownst to little me, there are a host of alternative therapies and practices in existence, all of which are said to restore healing for various maladies and medical conditions. In addition to kinesiology, there’s hands-on healing, acupuncture, dowsing, homeopathy and flower essences, geobiology and feng shui, hypnotherapy, and yoga, to name a few.

Problem is…like this woman’s husband feared, so many of these practices may seem to touch on extremely serious Torah prohibitions—we’re talking actual avodah zarah, kishuf, things like that! It’s a scary business… How is any frum Jew supposed to know whether or not he may avail himself of any alternative medicines, if the pitfalls are so dangerous and unknown?!

Ah, but the key word here is “unknown.” Until now that’s what all these alternative medicines and therapies were, by most halachic authorities—unknown. Who actually knew where homeopathy or acupuncture or kinesiology actually found their sources? Who really knew what feng shui is?

Now, with Alternative Medicine in Halachah out on the shelves, the hazy curtain shading these therapies and practices has been pulled, with the author, Rabbi Szmerla, doing the work for us. Rabbi Szmerla is an outstanding talmid chacham, former rosh kollel, and posek who has spent over three decades steeped in the deep waters of Gemara and halachah. For many years now, he has delved into the halachic issues surrounding the use of alternative therapies. To do so, he has personally studied some of these therapies in depth, in addition to having had close contact with many practitioners of different modalities for the past twenty-five years. Rather than relying on hearsay or dubious Internet research or magazine articles, he has made sure to obtain a first-hand, deep understanding of each alternative therapy before attempting to determine its halachic status.

The fifteen haskamos Rabbi Szmerla received for this book, from some of our most esteemed poskim in Eretz Yisrael, England, and America, are testaments to his integrity, scholarship, and yiras Shamayim.

After learning through this book, the reader will discover, as I did, that while some alternative medicines and practices are unequivocally permitted, some are permitted only under certain conditions, and some are categorically prohibited.

Next time I meet up with my kinesiology-interested acquaintance, I’ll know just where to guide her and her husband, so they can find out if perhaps this alternative therapy is something she can try out after all…

Click here to purchase online.


NEW RELEASE! Table for Two

June 5, 2017

“I just made the S’mores Bars—they came out yuuuum! And I’m so proud of myself—they look exactly like the ones in the photo!”

“I tried the Sweet Chinese Chicken for supper—everyone’s plates were licked clean!”

“I had a ton of oatmeal to use up, so I made the Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal for breakfast. So easy, and it was really filling—and delicious!”

Just a sampling of the rave reports that came pouring into our office just days after the release of Table for Two—A Kallah’s Cookbook. (The editor and proofreader actually gave their two-thumbs-up reviews before the cookbook came in—they snuck the recipes from the PDFs they were working off…shh!)

Let me set the record straight here: although yes, this cookbook is absolutely perfect for the kallah and newlywed just starting out in the kitchen, it is definitely not limited to those starry-eyed young ‘uns among us! The recipes here can—and SHOULD!—be used by every cook who’d like to see her food being eaten and blissfully enjoyed by her loved ones (which includes herself, too, of course!)!

What makes this cookbook so unique is how beautifully basic and simple the recipes in it are. How many hundreds of cookbooks out there have recipes like “Balsamic-Infused Cornish Hens with Rosemary and Thyme Sauce” and “Seven-Layer-Double-Chocolate-Caramel Torte with Rhubarb and Custard Cream”? I’m not saying those recipes aren’t delicious, of course (er, I don’t know about the Rosemary and Thyme Sauce…)—but tell me, which typical, crazy-busy wife/mother/homemaker-plus-employee is actually going to make that?!

The recipes in Table for Two are different. Every single recipe is easy to make, with a short and straightforward list of ingredients that you’ll actually already have in your house—yet, to put it in the words of one of the above recipe testers, they are all yuuum!

And that’s why this cookbook is so perfect for beginner cooks, like young kallahs and newlyweds. Not every girl gets married knowing how to make cholent, or potato kugel, or even basic chicken and rice! (I know I certainly had a lot of learning to do in my first kitchen!) With the release of Table for Two—A Kallah’s Cookbook, which includes all these basic, good “heimishe” recipes, plus lots of other, not-so-basic-but-still-incredibly-easy recipes, these girls, too, can hold their heads high in their kitchens, confident in the knowledge that they can and, b’ezras Hashem, WILL become fabulous cooks in no time!

Buy this stunning cookbook for the kallah whose bridal shower you need to bring a gift to. Buy it for your wife, or mother, or mother-in-law…or yourself! All of you will love it—we guarantee!

Click here to purchase online.