Page 173 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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FABER / RECENT WORKS ON JEWISH LAW
1 6 5
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
Jewish
Jurisprudence, Its Sources and Modern Application, Vol.
/,
Laws of
Judges,
(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.
Priest’s
Governmental andJudicial Ethics in theBible and Rabbinic L it­
erature
(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: