ARUCH HASHULCHAN IN ENGLISH: Orach Chaim, Chapters 242-292 (Laws of Shabbat)
Full Hebrew Text with English Translation and Notations
By Rabbi Yechiel Michel Halevi Epstein of Novardok
Edited by Rabbi Ilan Segal
Hardcover, 520 pages
Urim Publications, 2021
The Aruch Hashulchan, the monumental work of Rav Yechiel Michel Halevi Epstein, occupies a prominent place in the library of classic Jewish texts. Almost every contemporary halachic sefer cites the Aruch Hashulchan and contends with his opinions, testifying to the esteem in which this exceptional work is held. The original eight volumes encompassing all four sections of Shulchan Aruch were composed between 1870 and 1901. The Aruch Hashulchan was immediately acclaimed by the Torah scholars of the day and remains a standard in halachic literature. With remarkable clarity, scope, and skill, the Aruch Hashulchan incorporates many different facets of halachic study. Relevant sources from the Gemara, Rambam, and Rishonim are explained and difficulties resolved with novel, straightforward explanations. He reports the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch and the Rema, as well as those of the Magen Avraham, Taz, and other classical commentaries, sometimes challenging their opinions. This masterful compendium of Jewish law also addresses practical halachic issues as well as relating to prevalent customs of the time.
For this new edition, the full Hebrew text and all sources were carefully reviewed. Obvious typographical and citation errors were corrected, and supplementary references were added.
The accompanying English translation is faithful to the Hebrew text with occasional clarifications, footnotes, and subheadings added to enhance readability.
About the Author
Rav Yechiel Michel Halevi Epstein (1829–1908) was one of the leading poskim of his day. His acumen in analyzing and expounding halachah established him as an authority of Jewish law, and his work, Aruch Hashulchan, as a timeless classic. Born into a wealthy merchant family, he chose a path of Torah study that led him to the great Yeshivah of Volozhin, where he developed a close relationship with the Netziv, later marrying his sister. One year after his marriage, Rav Epstein returned to his hometown, Bobroisk, where he received his semichah, studying under Rav Eliyahu Goldberg. He began teaching a shiur and soon became rosh yeshivah of the local Altshul Yeshivah and a dayan on the local Beit Din. At the age of 35, he assumed his first rabbinic post in Novozybkov, and there he wrote his first book, Ohr Layesharim.
In 1874, after ten productive years, Rav Epstein left to become the Rav of Novardok, leading the community for thirty-four years until the end of his life. In an article published in Halevanon newspaper at that time, he is welcomed as “Harav Hagaon, proficient in all areas of Torah in theory and practice, wise of heart and mighty in the battle of Torah, crowned with intellectual prowess and the finest qualities and conduct, pleasing in both preaching and practice.”
Rav Epstein saw the Rabbi’s role of studying and disseminating Torah, guiding his community, and upholding religious standards as paramount. Backed by his authoritative command of halachah, he would extend himself to rule leniently where appropriate. Yet he stood steadfast and uncompromisingly against any attempt to change accepted customs and traditions.
Recognized as a great halachic authority, many students sought his tutelage. Among the Rabbis he ordained are leading figures of the following generation, including Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin, Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, and Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman.
About the Editor
Rav Ilan Segal has been studying and teaching halachah for over thirty years. Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, he studied in Netivot Yosef and Heichal Hatorah yeshivas in Eretz Yisrael. After receiving semichah from the Chief Rabbis of Israel, Rav Avraham Shapira and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, Rav Segal served as the Rabbi of Pretoria, South Africa, for four years. Returning to Israel in 1994, he devoted himself to Torah education, teaching in Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim and Darchei Binah seminary, and later as the principal of Afikei Torah and Levavi seminaries. He has contributed to the English Mishnah Berurah, the Emunah in the Classroom series, and other Torah publications as a writer, translator, and editor. Rav Segal and his family live in Yerushalayim, where he divides his time between learning in kollel, teaching, and working on the English edition of the Aruch Hashulchan.
Praise for Aruch Hashulchan in English:
I have read portions of the English rendition of the Aruch HaShulchan on Hilchos Shabbos by my esteemed friend and colleague Rabbi Ilan Segal.
Although the Aruch HaShulchan obviously does not need my approbation, I however wish to relate that I found Rabbi Segal’s translation meticulously true to the Aruch HaShulchan’s wording and intent. The translation is professionally rendered constituting both a Kiddush Hashem that a Talmid Chochom as Rabbi Segal is capable of such a command of English and also an honor to the Aruch HaShulchan.
I commend Rabbi Segal for a quality presentation that will enable those to whom the original Hebrew is difficult to be able to delve into the Halacha in the intricate manner the Aruch HaShulchan presents, and thereby gain a greater and more in depth appreciation of Hilchos Shabbos, as well as a deeper understanding of how Halacha in general is established.
I pray that Hashem blesses Rabbi Segal and his family with life, health and the wherewithal to continue to merit the community in his many and varied ways.
With Torah blessings,
Rabbi Zev Leff
"I am completely blown away by the English Aruch HaShulchan that was just published by Urim Publications. This outstanding volume covers chapters 242-292 of Orach Chaim, the laws of Shabbat. Specifically, these chapters primarily discuss preparing for the arrival of Shabbat, Jewish/Non-Jews partnerships, preparing the stove/oven for Shabbat (shehiya, chazara, and hatmanan), kiddush, the Shabbat meals, and more.
For those less familiar, the Aruch Hashulchan is a code of law written by Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829–1908). The Aruch Hashulchan is incredibly unique in that before discussing the relevant halachot of each chapter, it first cited the relevant Talmudic passages and the view of the Rishonim. Most such Rishonim are only accessible to the advanced student of halacha. With this English translation, the world of the Rif, Rosh, Rambam, Ran, Ravan, Rabbeinu Chananel, and more, are now at the fingertips of English speakers. Priceless!
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems that the Aruch Hashulchan just doesn’t get the full measure of attention or authority that it deserves. It often seems as if there is a popularity contest between the Mishna Berura and the Aruch Hashulchan.
Although not completely accurate, perhaps the state of affairs can be summarized as follows: the “yeshivish” world follows the Mishna Berura almost exclusively. This is ostensibly due to the influence of Rabbi Ahron Kotler who enacted that his Lakewood yeshiva follow the Mishna Berura exclusively. On the other hand, much of the non-yeshivish world defers to the Aruch Hashulchan. This is quite odd, actually, considering that the Aruch Hashulchan is a Lithuanian work while the Mishna Berura is a Polish one!
The Aruch Hashulchan is probably the most thorough and conveniently organized compilation of halacha today. As mentioned, every halachic issue opens with a presentation of the relevant scriptural and Talmudic sources. So too, unlike the Mishna Berura’s text-based-tradition to deciding halacha, the Aruch Hashulchan tries to determine the halacha based on Talmudic precedents and contemporary practice…and often works hard to satisfy both. It’s not since the Rambam that there has been a work of halacha that covers all of Jewish law like the Aruch Hashulchan does.
So should we follow the Mishna Berura or the Aruch Hashulchan?
Rabbi Yehuda Henkin in Bnei Banim 2:8, cites his grandfather, Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, as having ruled that the Aruch Hashulchan is the more definitive and authoritative decisor of halacha. He offers a number of reasons for this. One reason is because most of the Aruch Hashulchan was written after the Mishna Berura. In fact, the Aruch Hashulchan often cites the Mishna Berura before issuing his own rulings. Another reason is because it covers the entire Shulchan Aruch while the Mishna Berura only covers the Orach Chaim section. Finally, the Mishna Berura was essentially written by a scholar while the Aruch Hashulchan was written by a scholar who was also a practicing rabbi. As a practicing rabbi, the author regularly interacted with the community and dealt with the problems and issues that they faced. He had more hands-on experience in dealing with halachic dilemmas. Indeed, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein is reported to have said that the Aruch Hashulchan takes precedence over the Mishna Berura for this reason alone.
This new Urim English edition of the Aruch Hashulchan is an absolutely vital addition to the collection of any Anglo student of Halacha. Both the Hebrew and English is crisp and clear, attractive and engaging. Whether used as one’s primary study of halacha or as a review for those more fluent in halachic texts, I have no doubt that one’s retention and understanding of the Aruch Hashulchan will be better than ever. Thank you to Urim Publisher R’ Tzvi Mauer for sending this volume! It’s simply outstanding…a real game changer in the world of English halacha. Hopefully it’s the first of many volumes.
-Rabbi Ari Enkin