Session 2 – February 23: Halakha as Law

Each week you’ll find the reading listed, along with an abbreviated version and/or shorter section of the essay to look through. You’re welcome to read only the selection, the entire article, or anything in between.

Session 2 – February 23: Halakha as Law

Readings for this session:

  • Introduction to Halakha: The Rabbinic Idea of Law – Chaim Saiman
    • Specific Pages: p. 3 from “First, note how the natural state of halakha…” through the close of the first paragraph on p. 5 (“…regulates those perspective countries.”) & p. 8 the paragraph that starts “So while halakha is undoubtedly law, it is also something else…” through the end of that paragraph
  • The Seduction of Legal Thinking: Rethinking Legal Studies in Jewish Studies” – article by Rachel Rafael Neis
    • Specific Pages: “Conclusion: Going Forward” at the bottom of p. 136 through the end on 138
  • Some extra stuff:
    • The Different Voice in Jewish Law: Some Parallels to a Feminist Jurisprudence” – Steven F. Friedell 
      • Content Warning! This essay is pretty weird. It piece puts forth some essentialist ideas about gender & sex that are not stellar. I’ve found some of this analysis about halakha, law, power, and oppression intriguing, which is why I’m inviting y’all to explore it. If you’re not up for that today, feel free to ignore!
      • Specific Pages: p. 916 (from “A number of people in the legal world have reacted to Gilligan’s thesis by suggesting ways in which law should change by incorporating her insights.”) to p. 918 (“…we see that Jewish law has much in common with the feminist approach.)
        • A note of context: This essay applies a theory by Carol Gilligan to halakha. Gilligan’s theory is that there are fundamental differences between “men” and “women” that lead to “feminized” ways of approaching law that do center “rights and responsibilities” as opposed to “rules and regulations.”