22 August 2012

NOTICE: Jewish Law and more (apologies for the strange fonts and backgrounds)


These two new books on Jewish law (and legaql pluralism) might be of interest:

Steven H Resnicoff, Understanding Jewish Law (Lexis Nexis, 2012). The book:
  • Provides critically important contextual information for any course or seminar in Jewish law; 
  • Identifies Jewish law fundamental assumptions, including an individual's responsibilities to and for others; 
  • Presents a clear, concise overview not only of Jewish law's institutions, but also of the hierarchies of its literary and human authorities; 
  • Differentiates between Jewish law's biblical and non-biblical precepts, explaining their distinct practical and theoretical consequences; 
  • Focuses on the processes through which Jewish law unfolds and the roles played by individual autonomy; 
  • Compares and analyzes the interrelationships between Jewish and secular law in several key areas, including legal ethics, bankruptcy law, and alternative dispute resolution; 
  • Through nine appendices, offers a wealth of material designed to enable students to comprehend Jewish law literature and to engage in Jewish law research. Among many other things, these appendices: (1) Prepare students for the various ways in which Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic words are transliterated; (2) Direct students to a treasury of essential resources, including English translations of primary Jewish law literature that are available, many of which for free on the internet; (3) Describe pertinent English journals, databases and books. 

Hanina Ben-Menahem, Arye Edrei, and Neil S Hecht (eds), Windows onto Jewish Legal Culture: Fourteen Exploratory Essays (Routledge, 2012):

This book opens windows onto various aspects of Jewish legal culture. Rather than taking a structural approach, and attempting to circumscribe and define ‘every’ element of Jewish law, Windows onto Jewish Legal Culture takes a dynamic and holistic approach, describing diverse manifestations of Jewish legal culture, and its general mind-set, without seeking to fit them into a single structure.
Jewish legal culture spans two millennia, and evolved in geographic centers that were often very distant from one another both geographically and socio-culturally. It encompasses the Talmud and talmudic literature, the law codes, the rulings of rabbinical courts, the responsa literature, decisions taken by communal leaders, study of the law in talmudic academies, the local study hall, and the home. But Jewish legal culture reaches well beyond legal and quasi-legal institutions; it addresses, and is reflected in, every aspect of daily life, from meals and attire to interpersonal and communal relations. Windows onto Jewish Legal Culture gives the reader a taste of the tremendous weight of Jewish legal culture within Jewish life.
Among the facets of Jewish legal culture explored are two of its most salient distinguishing features, namely, toleration and even encouragement of controversy, and a preference for formalistic formulations. These features are widely misunderstood, and Jewish legal culture is often parodied as hair-splitting argument for the sake of argument. In explaining the epistemic imperatives that motivate Jewish legal culture, however, this book paints a very different picture. Situational constraints and empirical considerations are shown to provide vital input into legal determinations at every level, and the legal process is revealed to be attentive to context and sensitive to cultural concerns.
Note, too, other new Routledge titles, including many on comparative law and legal systems, at http://www.routledge.com/catalogs/research_in_law_and_law_society_2012/.

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