Page 171 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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SALAMON FABER
Recent Works on Jewish Law
T
he
PAST DECADE
has witnessed an upsurge in publications on
themes o f Jewish law, in c lud in g essays in p e r iod ica ls ,
monographs, major historical and philosophical studies, and
responsa dealing with specific issues (She’elot u’Teshuvot) o f the
well known rabbinic-traditional format. The term “law” as used
in this article encompasses all types o f legal matter, be they pro­
mulgated by human initiative or conceived as originating in a
revelatory experience. It should be noted that in the literature
under con s idera tion , the expressions “Jewish law” and
“Halakhah” are used interchangeably.
Two major reasons may be adduced for the heightened inter­
est in distinctively Jewish “ju r id ica l 1. The demonstrated policy
o f the Israeli government to “Judaize” its legal codes and judici­
ary administrative institutions. Essentially, these are vestiges o f
the time o f Ottoman rule and, since the early 1920’s, o f the Brit­
ish Mandate over Palestine. Even before the emergence o f the
State o f Israel, many legal scholars, practicing jurists and histori­
ans o f the Yishuv engaged in scholarly endeavor in order to make
known the rich resources on jurisprudence in the Jewish experi­
ence for close to three milennia. These endeavors have been ex­
panded in recent years, due to the efforts o f the new state’s Minis­
try o f Justice to lend a distinctive Jewish character to the state’s
jurisdictional apparatus and its developing institutions. O f
course, research and publication o f appropriate materials are in­
dispensable components o f the program. 2. Renewed interest in
Judaism, a phenomenon which is altering the image o f the Jew
acculturated to western civilization, is another factor stimulating
the output o f materials on Jewish law — Halakhah. All types o f
literary creativity are represented: historical studies, including
examinations o f the interaction between Judaism and surround­
ing cultures; works on ethics; guides to conduct; and tracts on