Page 173 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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Roman influences upon it, followed by further developments in
the talmudic era through the Early Middle Ages (c. 350 B.C.E. -
650 C.E.); 3. The later Middle Ages, the period o f autonomous
Jewish communities in Christian and Muslim lands which func­
tioned as a “state within a state,” up to the Emancipation in the
19th century. The volume focuses attention on contextual
adjustments, as well as changing processes in decision-making,
involving religious and sociological transformations in given
areas. Documentary evidence from contemporary sources forms
part o f the presentation. This work is eminently successful in as­
sessing the uniqueness o f Jewish law in comparison with other
contemporaneous systems.
A purpose essentially different from Elon’s and Schreiber’s is
set forth by Emanuel Quint and Neil S. Hecht in
Jurisprudence, Its Sources and Modern Application, Vol.
Laws of
(New York, Harwood, 1980).This text is neither a com­
parative study, nor an historical survey. It aims, as the title
implies, to provide an authoritative code or compendium for
concerned professionals — judges, lawyers, law administrators,
students o f law — on the reasonable assumption that observant
Jews should turn to duly constituted Batei Din (Rabbinic Courts),
rather than secular civil courts, for adjudication o f their disputes
and litigations. Such an assumption is in line with the require­
ments o f Jewish law — Halakhah, as postulated in Shulhan
Arukh Hoshen Mishpat, par. #26; (cf. also Rashi’s comment on
Ex. 21:1, s.v. “lifnehem”). To be sure, it may be unrealistic in a
free democratic society to attempt restoration o f the judiciary o f
autonomous Jewish communities o f earlier ages. However, this
writer’s experiences over many years as chairman o f the Beth Din
o f Queens, NY, lead him to believe that many Jews welcome utili­
zation o f Jewish law in areas not limited to ritual. Hence the time­
liness and relevance o f the Quint-Hecht text.
Several titles have appeared in the field o f legal ethics. James B.
Governmental andJudicial Ethics in theBible and Rabbinic L it­
(New York, Ktav, 1980) is noteworthy for its lucid exami­
nation o f sources. The work deals with ethics o f law enforcement
and the death penalty; ethics related to the issue o f “punishment
equal to crime;” ethics o f government in war and peace, etc. It
emphasizes the thrust o f Jewish history to “enlarge” the ethical
dimension o f law, both in abstract and concrete terms. Its appre­
ciation o f judicial ethics is summed up in the following statement: