Philosophy, Interpreter of Halakha
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Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy, ed. Mary J. Gregor (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 17.
Spinoza, Theological Political Treatise (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2001), 1–3.
Ibid., 51–59; 159.
Kant, Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason and Other Writings (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 164.
See, e.g., Moritz Lazarus, Die Ethik Des Judenthums, Dargestellt von Prof. Dr. M. Lazarus. (Frankfurt am Main: Kauffmann, 1898). For a comprehensive review and argument, see Kenneth Seeskin, Autonomy in Jewish Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
Franz Rosenzweig, On Jewish Learning, ed. N. N. Glatzer (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1955), 80.
Franz Rosenzweig, The Star of Redemption, trans. Barbara E. Galli (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005), 230.
Ibid., 190; 221.
See Kant, Practical Philosophy, 162.
Rosenzweig, On Jewish Learning, 83–87.
Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man, trans. Lawrence Kaplan (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1983), 82.
Ibid., 79. 19. Ibid., 101. 20. Ibid., 135.
Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, Divre Hagut ve-ha‘arakhah (Jerusalem: ha-Histadrut ha-Tsiyonit ha-ʻolamit, 1981), 252.
See Daniel Statman, “Perspectives on the Moral Conception of Rabbi Soloveitchik,” Emunah be-Zemanim Mishtanim: ‘Al Mishnato shel ha-Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, ed. Avi Sagi (Jerusalem: Merkaz Yaʻaḳov Hertzog, 1996), 249–64 for sources and discussion.
Eliezer Berkovits, God, Man, and History, (Jerusalem: Shalem Press, 2004), 103–4.
Eliezer Berkovits, Not in Heaven: The Nature and Function of Halakha (New York: Ktav, 1983), 83.
See Elu Divrei ha-Brit (Altona, 1819), 6–11.
I have drawn from Moses Maimonides, The Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah): Book Fourteen: The Book of Judges, trans. Abraham M. Hershman (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1949) for the translations presented here. However, that translation often departs from the plain-sense of Maimonides’s text and over-determines some of the interpretations of later commentators. Consequently, I have modified the translation at many points to restore the plain-reading and thus make visible their interpretive efforts. At these points I have often cited the original Hebrew to support my translation.
He substantiates this ruling on the basis of the Biblical text (Deut. 17:9), which says that one must go “unto the judge that shall be in those days.” Following the Talmud (b. Rosh ha-Shana 25b), Maimonides takes this to mean that one must follow a contemporary court for legal interpretations of the Bible.
Maimonides and the commentators distinguish between decrees, enactments, and customs. For simplicity of exposition, I will refer to preventative restrictions as “decrees” and all other actions as “enactments.” For a general term that covers both, I use“rabbinically established norms.”
In this Maimonides applies the Mishnaic dictum that “a rabbinical court cannot cancel the words of its fellow court unless it is greater in wisdom and number.” See m. Ediyot 1:5.
As Gerald Blidstein points out, following classical commentators, the basis for this last ruling is a Talmudic pericope (b. Avodah Zara 36a-b) in which Rabbi Yohanan states that eighteen matters cannot be cancelled by a fellow rabbinic court, even that of Elijah. Maimonides generalizes from these matters to any decree aimed at preventing violations of Biblical laws. See Gerald J. Blidstein, Samkhut u-Meri be-Halakhat ha-Rambam: Perush Nirh. av le-Hilkhot Mamrim 1–4 (Tel Aviv: ha-Kibbutz ha-Me’uh. ad, 2002), 103.
Ibid., 95; 145–50.
Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Shi‘urim le-Zekher Abba Mori Zt’l (Jerusalem: Akiva Joseph, 1985), vol. 1: 242; 249.
b. Avodah Zarah 36a.
Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Shi‘urim le-Zekher Abba Mori Zt’l, vol. 1: 257.
While indeed the court must annul the ordinance or the decree in order to remove an offense, the fact that the people continue to be obligated so long as they have not done so indicates that the court remains the locus of authority.
Eliezer Berkovits, Ha-Halakhah, Kohah Ve-Tafkidah (Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav Kook, 1981), 229.
Ronald Dworkin, Law’s Empire (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 1998), 225–75.
Ronald Dworkin, Law’s Empire, 45–113.
See e.g., all the articles in the Dine Israel, vol. 25.
Ronald Dworkin, Justice for Hedgehogs (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2011), 123–56.
Dworkin, Justice for Hedgehogs, 160.
Ronald Dworkin, Religion without God (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2013), 7.
See, in particular, his discussion in the preface to the second edition, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason and Other Writings, 40–41.
While Kant follows Spinoza in understanding Jewish law as such deficient religion that it must be political law, he does not have the same explanatory purposes in view.
Spinoza, Theological Political Treatise, 205–11.
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