In his enlightening discussion of one of the most important topics in Jewish thought today, Prof. Roth presents and analyzes the primary Talmudic and rabbinic sources relating to the legal and extralegal factors that go into the process of halakhic decision-making. He leads the reader through the entire process, step by step. The concepts of Biblical versus rabinnic legislation, the role of precedent and custom, extra legal factors (science, technology, medicine, sociology, economics, ethics and psychology) the scope of rabbinic authority, the qualifications for halakhic decision-making authority-all these are taken up and placed in context of the question of legitimacy and illegitimacy, authenticity and in authenticity. All the pressing and controversial questions of our time-women's rights and obligations: the ordination of women, their inclusion into a minyan, prenuptial agreements regarding divorce, the abolition of the second day of the festivals-are bound up with the issues discussed in this book. Anyone concerned with these and similar matters will gain a far broader and deeper appreciation for the real issues involved.