Written at different times and for different audiences - some for scholars of rabbinic literature, some for laymen or for scholars not necessarily Jewish - the essays gathered together in this volume nevertheless have an inner coherence. They reflect the author's lifetime interest in the history of halakhah - not as intellectual history per se, but rather a concern to identify measurable deflection in the unfolding of halakhic ideas that could point to an undetected force at work. What was it that stimulated change, and why? What happened when strong forces impinged upon halakhic observance, and both the scholarly elite and the community as a whole had to grapple with upholding observance while adapting to a new set of circumstances? Haym Soloveitchik's elegant presentation shows skilfully that the line between adaptation and deviance is a fine one, and that where a society draws that line is revelatory of both its values and its self-perception. Many of the articles presented here are well known in the field but have been updated for this publication (the major essay on pawnbroking has been expanded to half again its original size); some have been previously published only in Hebrew, and two are completely new.