Description : Every generation of Jews in every denomination of Judaism finds itself facing complex legal questions. The status of same-sex unions and the plight of the agunah (a woman who cannot obtain a divorce), are just two of a myriad of thorny questions Jewish legal experts grapple with today. These are not esoteric problems but issues with a profound impact on the daily happiness of countless people. How do the rabbis who draft responses to these questions reach their conclusions? What informs their decisions and their approach to Jewish law? Acclaimed writer and legal expert Elliot Dorff addresses these and other questions in this intelligent, accessible guide to the philosophy behind Jewish law. In his view, Jewish law is an expression of the love we have for God and for our fellow human beings. This theme permeates his discussion of important aspects of the law. For example, what motivates modern Jews to follow Jewish law? How does Jewish law strike the balance between continuity and change? On what grounds and under what circumstances do human beings have the authority to interpret or even change God's laws? Dorff also offers a systematic comparison of Jewish law and U.S. law, based on his course on this subject at UCLA School of Law. Whether you are a lawyer or simply interested in the philosophy behind recent rabbinic decisions, this is a book that will deepen your understanding of the Jewish legal system and its role in the modern world.
Jewish ethics investigates both theoretical and practical questions of what Jews can and should do in the world. It involves weaving together theology, philosophy, and law—the classic triumvirate for religious ethics—as well as lore, history, science, and sociology, among other facets of human knowledge and experience. With these tools in hand, some Jewish ethicists have wrestled with such questions as the relationship between law and ethics; the role of external, non-Jewish influences and thinkers; and the relationship between science, medicine, and revelation. Others contend with theories of the good and the right, with theology and ethics. And still other Jewish ethicists hone in on the minutiae of lived life, such as the pragmatics of behavior and policy. Though both ethics and morality can certainly be extracted from biblical and early rabbinic materials, it was not until the 9th century that Saadia Gaon discussed ethics as a subject matter worthy of distinct and extended consideration. For the next thousand years, only a few handfuls of volumes were exclusively devoted to ethics and morality, usually embedded in legal, philosophical, and theological texts. Increasing intellectual exposure to Western thinkers and society, especially to Immanuel Kant’s universal rationalistic philosophy and ethics, challenged and inspired Jews to clarify and explain Jewish ethics and morality. Hermann Cohen’s fin-de-siècle neo-Kantian revisioning of Judaism as ethical monotheism catapulted 20th-century Jewish ethical and moral thought from occasional meditations to central conversations across the streams of modern Jewry. Indeed, the last century’s incomprehensible tragedies and awesome technological advancements provided much fodder for Jewish ethical and moral consideration. Jewish bioethical discourse budded and bloomed after World War II; tracts on social, environmental, warfare, and political moral issues exploded in the 1960s and 1970s; first generations of feminist and covenantal ethics emerged in the 1980s and 1990s; a return to virtue ethics took root in the 1990s and early 2000s; and a renewed concern with business morality responded to embarrassing scandals and economic turmoil in the 2000s. Historically, Jewish ethics has been dominated by male voices and by contributors from North America and Israel, but the field is becoming increasingly diverse, as evidenced by the membership and leadership in the Society of Jewish Ethics, the premier, if not only, independent academic society devoted to this field. To be sure, Jewish ethicists will continue to wrestle with the most perplexing and enduring questions of human civility and creativity.
Gender issues in jewish law essays and responses Homework He
“Innovation and Authority: The Case of the ‘Women’s Minyan Responsum.’” Gender Issues in Jewish Law: Essays and Responses Walter Jacob and Moshe Zemer, eds. Tel Aviv and Pittsburgh: Studies in Progressive Halakha. New York: Berghahn Press, 2001.