Einhorn on Jewish Law and the Excavation of Tombs

Talia Einhorn (Tel Aviv University) has posted Israeli Law, Jewish Law and the Archaeological Excavation of Tombs. The abstract follows. –YAH

The paper discusses the conflict in Israel between the public interest in archaeological research and the religious convictions that human remains, once buried, should not be touched. The conflict is exacerbated by urban development, which, in this ancient land, necessitates rescue excavations of tombs, thus bringing the problem to a head. The article examines, first, the rules of Jewish law, which, the author contends, have made it possible to accommodate the interests of the living, and, secondly, the scientific value of the archaeological excavation of tombs, using recent examples as illustrations. The author concludes that Jewish law could be interpreted and applied more flexibly and could then be reconciled with Israeli law. However, even if such a development were not to take place, then, in keeping with democratic values, government officials and the courts would be required to follow the policies established by the legislator, a balance between the conflicting interests having already been embodied in the law.

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