In general, it's better not to read Torah books by non-frum authors. (Source.) Occasionally, you might stumble across an author you've never heard of. Maybe they're frum; but you don't know for sure.

Your university library owns a book or two on Jewish medical ethics, by Prof. Yechiel Michael Barilan, MD.

You think the book looks interesting. [Edit: You don't want to read it for class; just for interest.]

It's published by Cambridge University Press, not a Jewish publishing house. It comes with a positive approbation by a professor from the University of Chicago.

My question

Are Dr. Barilan's books consistent with the Torah and with Orthodox Jewish law?

  • 1
    I’m very curious what halachic reasons there would be to reject a book because its author is non obersvant Commented May 22 at 3:14
  • This likely depends on the student but is there a risk one would go off-the-derech by learning Jewish bioethics "the wrong way"?
    – mbloch
    Commented May 22 at 3:24
  • 3
    If this question is really specifically about books by Prof. Barilan, then dispense with the rest of the scenario and ask whether his books are deemed consistent with Torah by relevant critics. If not, the way this question is phrased strikes me as entirely inappropriate - making an example of the kind of case you're interested in by publicly doubting a specific person's religious fitness. Compounding this, raising such doubts purely based on a video in which a man appears to be not wearing a kippa strikes me as a severe miss on "judge every human favorably".
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented May 23 at 0:01
  • @AviAvraham: In general, it's better not to read Torah books by non-frum authors. (Source.) I've never met Dr. Barilan. Maybe he's frum. Let's wait for more answers to this question. Commented May 23 at 19:21
  • @IsaacMoses: I appreciate your detailed feedback! I've edited my question again. It hopefully no longer requests p'sak halachah anymore. You and everyone else may freely edit it further. Would you please consider revoking any downvote you may have left, and voting to reopen? Commented May 23 at 23:42

1 Answer 1


There isn't a universal answer to this question. It depends on your goals, your personality, your Jewish outlook, et cetera. If it's required reading for a required course in your program — this is a different question than "I'm just curious".

  • Perhaps you could instead read the Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics, which is reputable. The author, Avraham Steinberg, has written extensively on these matters.
  • Former British chief rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits also wrote extensively on Jewish bioethics, several decades ago.
  • Rabbi Akiva Tatz has also written a book on Jewish medical ethics.

If you're just curious, but perhaps insecure: Maybe read a more 'religiously established' Jewish medical ethics book first, or even instead of Prof. Barilan's book.

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