Book review: Alternative Medicine in Halachah

In a new book, Alternative Medicine in Halachah, (Israel Book Shop 978-1600913693), Rabbi Rephoel Szmerla attempts to make the halakhic case for alternative medical treatments. It’s a heavy tome; 11 English-language chapters and about 400 pages of Hebrew appendixes.

Szmerla is a proponent of these alternative therapies. He’s been involved with so-called energy medicine for twenty years and is something of an evangelist for this cause. For this reason, his devotion to this project, perhaps, the author struggled to provide a cogent rationale for his arguments. He also represents a curious trend among the Orthodox Right to declaim modern science as wisdom as beyond the acceptable pale of traditional Jewish thinking. The sinuous logic often takes some unorthodox and untraditional turns. His new book, therefore, is emblematic of a trope that, in my view, is far too often overlooked; probably, I might add, because it derives from the religious right and not the left.

The rest of my review can be viewed on the Lehrhaus web site here.


About the Author
I’m a senior information security and risk management professional, based in New York City. I speak at industry conferences, and write on information security, social media, privacy and technology. My book reviews are on information security, privacy, technology, and risk management. My reviews for the Times of Israel focus on Judaism, Talmud, religion and philosophy.
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