The Mishna Berura is, without a doubt, Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan's greatest and most complex contribution to the canon of Orthodox Jewish Law; it is a singular work that synthesizes Jewish traditions, laws, and mores into a practical halakhic guide to daily religious life. For all of his traditionalism, Rabbi Kagan was an iconoclast, and the Mishna Berura broke from many of the traditional approaches of deciding halakhic directives. Instead, he favored studying, engaging, and asserting decisions in a nuanced, almost natural approach to how ethical people should live their daily lives consistent with Jewish law. Today, the Mishna Berura has gained widespread recognition and is considered authoritative by essentially all of contemporary Orthodox Jewry, a measure of greatness that few works of Halakha have attained. Michael J. Broyde and Ira Bedzow here investigate this seminal text and explore its background and decision-making process.
About the Author
Michael J. Broyde is a professor of law at Emory University as well as project director and senior scholar in the Emory University Center for the Study of Law and Religion.