Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Warburg, “Rabbinic Authority”

This month, Urim Publications will release “Rabbinic Authority: The Vision and the Reality, Beit Din Decisions in English – Volume 2,” by Rabbi Yehuda Warburg.  The publisher’s description follows:

In the second volume of his groundbreaking series on rabbinic authority in English,rabbinicauthorityvolume220web2 Rabbi Warburg continues his in-depth discussion of rabbinical court arbitration decisions. He is the first rabbinic arbitrator to publish Piskei Din on cases in Jewish civil law. It is important that those who interact with the institution of a Beit Din know the inner dynamics and reasoning of those who issue rulings. This volume focuses on a number of topics such as the halakhic identity of an investment broker, the propriety of a civil will, contemporary issues relating to domestic violence, and the role of a rabbinical advocate in the Beit Din process. These topics and more are closely examined in “Rabbinic Authority” volume 2.

Brooks on the Rising Orthodox Jewish Community

An excellent column by David Brooks this morning (noted by Ms. Wright below) on the rising strength of New York’s Orthodox Jewish Community.  One highly relevant feature of his piece is the importance of law as a structure that limits choice, and of the beneficent constraining power of law.  You should read the whole piece.  But by far the sharpest line in it is not Brooks’s, but belongs to Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth Jonathan Sacks: “The Torah is an anthology of argument with a shared vocabulary of common restraint.”

An analogy is made here (by Brooks and Rabbi Sacks both, it seems) to constitutional law — that is, a conceptual connection between shared cultural norms and norms of constitutional interpretation and adjudication.  Amen.

Kwall on Jewish Tradition as Intellectual Property

Roberta Rosenthal Kwall (DePaul University College of Law) has posted Is the Jewish Tradition Intellectual Property?  The abstract follows.

Whether works of authorship should be protected from unauthorized changes and, if so, in what manner, are questions of endless fascination to intellectual property scholars. Jewish law is not typically considered a “work of authorship” although in many ways it can be so viewed. This article is concerned with exploring the Jewish tradition as intellectual or cultural property. It focuses on the human dimension of creativity embodied in the Jewish tradition, and how that dimension is manifested in the rabbinic interpretation of Jewish law. The resulting tradition — as it is embodied in both the Jewish texts and lived by the people — has afforded the Jewish people their unique identity throughout the ages. Simply put, the Jewish tradition is a very unique form of cultural property. This analytical framework has significant implications for how to negotiate the balance between preservation and development of the tradition.