The Crisis in Jewish Law Today

Orthodox rabbis need to stop worrying about 200-year-old battles with “Reformers” and allow Jewish law to develop organically, as it always did in the past.

Ruth Balinsky Friedman, an Orthodox woman who was ordained in June 2013 as a maharat, a female legal, spiritual and Torah leader. Photograph © Jennifer S. Altman/The Washington Post.
Ruth Balinsky Friedman, an Orthodox woman who was ordained in June 2013 as a maharat, a female legal, spiritual and Torah leader. Photograph © Jennifer S. Altman/The Washington Post.
Response
David Golinkin
Dec. 22 2013

I enjoyed reading Joshua Berman’s ambitious essay, which examines over 3,000 years of Jewish law through the lens of the contrast between common law and statutory law. Particularly enjoyable was the first section, where he maintains that both the Code of Hammurabi and the Torah are not codes of law but rather collections of precedents applied in a flexible fashion by later judges.

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More about: Bible, Common law, Conservative Judaism, Halakhah, Jewish identity, Joshua Berman, Maimonides, Mishnah, Orthodoxy, Shulhan Arukh, Talmud