Page 61 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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J EWI SH CODES
On the Occasion of the 400th Anniversary
of the Shulhan Arukh
By
S
a m u e l
K .
M
ir sk y
T
h er e
are
tw o
kinds of codes:
1)
original codifications cover-
ing definite and complete areas such as civil, criminal,
contractual, procedural laws, laws of torts, family status, etc.;
2) compilations of existing laws previously scattered throughout
various sources. These compilations coordinate laws, omit con-
flicts, and arrange them in a certain order.
Jewish codes of the first kind are incorporated in the Torah.
The earliest is the Sinaitic, or the Covenant, code. This is fol-
lowed by the Priestly code (Torat Kohanim) or the code of the
Assembly (Ohel Moed) and the Deuteronomian code. However,
these can hardly be termed codes in the strict sense of this word.
The Sinaitic or Covenant code contains material which in post-
biblical Hebrew would be defined as both halakhic and aggadic
(see Rashi to Exod. 24:7 on the contents of this code; cf. Tosafot
Gittin 60a). The Priestly code, though mainly halakhic, also
contains moral and narrative material. And the Deuteronomian
code is written in the form of an address or sermon delivered by
Moses in
Arbot Moab.
Already in the first century R. Yishmael and R. Akiba differed
in their opinions on the interrelation of these three codes,
whether they go from the general to the particular or whether
they are repetition (Zebahim 115b). As the name Torah (instruc-
tion) implies, the codes which are its main component are pre-
faced and set apart by matter which, as aforesaid, falls under
the category of aggadic material. The Torah is arranged not
in a chronological, but in a logical order of its own, all Divine
and Sinaitic, from beginning to end. Stories and allegories are
introduced as signs and symbols for the laws. Command and
sanction, the two sides of the coin of a legal norm in criminal
law, do not follow one another in a text but are to be derived
from repetitions in other sections. The logical sequence can be
sought and found, but it is not to be seen on the surface.
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