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Halichos Bas Yisrael

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Halichos Bas Yisrael
A Woman's Guide to Jewish Observance, Volumes I & II

By Rabbi Yitzchak Yaacov Fuchs
Targum Press, Southfield, Michigan: 1987
ISBN: 978-1-56871-527-8

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - February 23, 2004

Halichos Bas Yisrael is an indispensable guide to the Halachah that pertains to women. It is a 'must' for every Jewish women and girl, as well as those interested in studying the these laws. The text is intuitively organized and each law is discussed in detail. In the process of exploring each law, the Rabbi Yitzchak Yaacov Fuchs, the book's author, discusses the underlaying principles, and implications, of each law, the various ways in which each law has been interpreted throughout time, and he includes sources notes that, should they choose, will enable readers to delve further into each given subject. Throughout, both Ashkenazic and Sephardic opinions are enumerated upon.

The English edition of Halichos Bas Yisrael was published in two volumes. Volume one concentrates on the day-to-day Halachah associated with maintaining a home and one's personal faith, while volume two concentrates more upon the observances related to the holidays. In both volumes, the main text, as well as all the notes and commentaries have been translated into English, making this essential book accessible to women of all backgrounds.

Volume I has thirteen chapters and an introduction that covers some of the fundamental laws, such as A woman's obligation in mitzvoth and an overview of the rules concerning time-bound mitzvoth. The thirteen chapters in this volume include:
  1. Washing the Hands in the Morning
  2. Prayer
  3. Mitzvoth of the Meal
  4. Modesty
  5. A Woman's Hair
  6. A Woman's Voice
  7. Miscellaneous Laws of Modesty
  8. Yichud
  9. Torah Study
  10. Training Children
  11. Bath (Bat) Mitzvah
  12. Mourning
  13. Challah (The laws concerning the separation of the dough.)

    The chapters in volume 2 include:

  14. Miscellaneous Mitzvoth and Blessings (including the laws regarding Tzedakah, Lashon ha'ra, and Birkath HaGomel)
  15. Shabath
  16. Rosh Chodesh
  17. Yom Tov
  18. Chol HaMoed
  19. Yamin Nora'im
  20. Sukkoth
  21. Chanukah
  22. Purim
  23. Pessach
  24. The Days of Sephirah and Shavuoth
  25. Bein HaM'tzarim
While this book is intended as a guide to Jewish observances, for women, it is also a suitable book for men. It serves not only as a general survey textbook covering the full breadth of laws relating to woman, but it also serves as an indispensable reference guide for any Jewish woman concerned with maintaining the highest standards of observance of Torah and the mitzvoth.

Halichos Bas Yisrael: A Woman's Guide to Jewish Observance should be required reading in every girl's high school and seminary, and it deserves a place on every Jewish bookshelf!

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