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Jewish Legal Theories

Writings on State, Religion, and Morality

Contemporary arguments about Jewish law uniquely reflect both the story of Jewish modernity and a crucial premise of modern conceptions of law generally: the claim of autonomy for the intellectual subject and practical sphere of the law. Jewish Legal Theories collects representative modern Jewish writings on law and provides short commentaries and annotations on these writings that situate them within Jewish thought and history, as well as within modern legal theory. The topics addressed by these documents include Jewish legal theory from the modern nation-state to its adumbration in the forms of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism in the German-Jewish context; the development of Jewish legal philosophy in Eastern Europe beginning in the eighteenth century; Ultra-Orthodox views of Jewish law premised on the rejection of the modern nation-state; the role of Jewish law in Israel; and contemporary feminist legal theory.

296 pages | 6 x 9

Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought

Law and Legal Studies: General Legal Studies

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“This rich, fascinating volume shows Jewish legal thought in dialogue with modernity, from the nation-state to reproductive technology, feminism, and beyond. Rightly emphasizing tensions and conflicts, the collection hints that Jewish law cannot be defined only as the law of God, the law of the Jews, or the law of the Jewish state. This is a canon-shaping accomplishment.”

Noah Feldman, Harvard Law School

Table of Contents

Foreword • Acknowledgments • Introduction • PART 1: JEWISH LAW AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN NATION-STATE • Benedict de Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise • Selections from the Writings of Moses Mendelssohn and an Associated Text • Abraham Geiger, Posthumous Writings • Selections from the Writings of Samson Raphael Hirsch • Zacharias Frankel, “Judicial Evidence According to Mosaic Talmudic Law” • Heinrich Graetz, History of the Jews • Selections from the Writings of Hermann Cohen • Menachem Elon, “The Legal System of Jewish Law” • Selections from the Writings of Robert Cover • PART 2: EASTERN EUROPEAN VIEWS OF LAW: DISSOLUTION OF JEWISH COMMUNAL POWER • Selections from the Writings of Elijah of Vilna and Associated Texts • ?ayyim of Volozhin, The Soul of Life • Selections from the Writings of Shneur Zalman of Liady • Na?man Krochmal, Guide of the Perplexed of the Age • Yisrael (Lipkin) Salanter, Light of Israel • ?ayyim Soloveitchik, Novellae and Clarifications on Maimonides • Shimon Shkop, Novellae on Tractates Bava Kamma, Bava Metzia, and Bava Batra • Selections from the Writings of Yisrael Meir Kagan and Associated Texts • Selections from the Writings of Joseph B. Soloveitchik • PART 3: ULTRA-ORTHODOXY AND THE REJECTION OF THE MODERN NATION-STATE • Selections from the Writings of Moshe Sofer and Associated Texts • Selections from the Writings of Akiva Yosef Schlesinger and an Associated Text • Moshe Shemuel Glasner, Fourth Generation • Isaac Breuer, “The Philosophical Foundations of Jewish and of Modern Law” • Selections from the Writings of Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz • Moshe Feinstein, Epistles of Moshe • Selections from the Writings of Yoel Teitelbaum and Associated Texts • PART 4: JEWISH LAW AND THE STATE OF ISRAEL • Selections from the Writings of Abraham Isaac Kook • Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel, Uziel’s Rulings • Shlomo Goren, “Is a Torah Constitution Possible?” • Isaac Halevi Herzog, Constitution and Law in a Jewish State According to the Torah • Yeshayahu Leibowitz, “The Religious Significance of the State of Israel” • Eliezer Berkovits, Not in Heaven: The Nature and Function of Halakha • Shaul Yisraeli, Pillar of the Right • Eliezer Waldenberg, Laws of the State • Ovadiah Yosef, “Regarding Women’s Recital of the Blessing over the Lulav and Other Time-Bound Positive Commandments” • PART 5: JEWISH FEMINIST VIEWS OF LAW • Rachel Adler, Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics • Tamar Ross, Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism • Tova Hartman, Feminism Encounters Traditional Judaism: Resistance and Accommodation • Ronit Irshai, “Toward a Gender Critical Approach to the Philosophy of Jewish Law (Halakhah)” • Index

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