I recently had a discussion with a student in my comparative law class who had studied Jewish law at a yeshiva. To study Jewish law, this student told me, is to enter a conversation that has been going on for millennia. One has to approach the conversation with humility, with respect for the participants — some of whom have been dead for centuries — who have been at this for a lot longer than you. It’s a nice description. To close out the week’s books, here is a forthcoming work from Cambridge University Press on Jewish Law, An Introduction to Jewish Law, by comparativist Fancois-Xavier Licari (University of Lorraine). The publisher’s description follows:
Jewish law is a singular legal system that has been evolving for generations. Often conflated with Biblical law or Israeli law, Jewish law needs to be studied in its own right. An Introduction to Jewish Law expounds the general structure of Jewish law and presents the cardinal principles of this religious legal system. An introduction to modern Jewish law as it applies to the daily life of Jews around the world, this volume presents Jewish law in a way that answers all the questions that a student of comparative law would ask when encountering an unfamiliar legal system. Sources of Jewish law such as revelation, rabbinical and communal legislation, judicial decisions, and legal reasoning are defined and analyzed, and the authority of who decides what Jewish law is and why their decisions are binding is investigated.