Halakha

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Halakha

Post  palmtree on Tue 12 May 2009, 8:14 am

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Halakha (Hebrew: הלכה‎) — also transliterated Halocho and Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish religious law, including biblical law (the 613 mitzvot) and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions. Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life. Hence, Halakha guides not only religious practices and beliefs, but numerous aspects of day-to-day life. Halakha is often translated as "Jewish Law", although a more literal translation might be "the path" or "the way of walking." The word is derived from the Hebrew root that means to go or to walk.

The name Halakha is derived from the Hebrew halakh הלך, which means "to walk" or "to go"; thus a literal translation does not yield "law", but rather "the way to go". The term Halakha may refer to a single law, to the literary corpus of rabbinic legal texts, or to the overall system of religious law. The root may be Semitic aqqa, meaning "to be true, be suitable".

Halakha constitutes the practical application of the 613 mitzvot ("commandments", singular: mitzvah) in the Torah, (the five books of Moses, the "Written Law") as developed through discussion and debate in the classical rabbinic literature, especially the Mishnah and the Talmud (the "Oral law"), and as codified in the Mishneh Torah or Shulkhan Arukh (the Jewish "Code of Law".)

Eras of history important in Jewish law

  • The Tannaim (literally the "repeaters") are the sages of the Mishnah (70–200)
  • The Amoraim (literally the "sayers") are the sages of the Gemara (200–500)
  • The Savoraim (literally the "reasoners") are the classical Persian rabbis (500–600)
  • The Geonim (literally the "prides" or "geniuses") are the rabbis of Sura and Pumbeditha, in Babylonia (650–1250)
  • The Rishonim (literally the "firsts") are the rabbis of the early medieval period (1250–1550) preceding the Shulchan Aruch
  • The Acharonim (literally the "lasts") are the rabbis of 1550 to the present.


Rules by which early Jewish law was derived
Hermeneutics is the study of rules for the exact determination of the meaning of a text; it played a notable role in early rabbinic Jewish discussion. The sages investigated the rules by which the requirements of the oral law were derived from and established by the written law, i.e. the Torah. These rules relate to:

* grammar and exegesis
* the interpretation of certain words and letters and superfluous words, prefixes, and suffixes in general
* the interpretation of those letters, which, in certain words, are provided with points
* the interpretation of the letters in a word according to their numerical value
* the interpretation of a word by dividing it into two or more words
* the interpretation of a word according to its consonantal form or according to its vocalization
* the interpretation of a word by transposing its letters or by changing its vowels
* the logical deduction of a halakah from a Scriptural text or from another law

Compilations of such hermeneutic rules were made in the earliest times. The tannaitic tradition recognizes three such collections, namely:

* the seven Rules of Hillel (baraita at the beginning of Sifra; Ab. R. N. xxxvii.)
* the thirteen Rules of R. Ishmael (baraita at the beginning of Sifra; this collection is merely an amplification of that of Hillel)
* the thirty-two Rules of R. Eliezer b. Jose ha-Gelili.

The last-mentioned rules are contained in an independent baraita, which has been incorporated and preserved only in later works. They are intended for haggadic interpretation; but many of them are valid for the Halakah as well, coinciding with the rules of Hillel and Ishmael.

Neither Hillel, Ishmael, nor Eliezer ben Jose ha-Gelili sought to give a complete enumeration of the rules of interpretation current in his day, but they omitted from their collections many rules that were then followed. They restricted themselves to a compilation of the principal methods of logical deduction, which they called "middot" (measures), although the other rules also were known by that term (comp. Midrash Sifre, Numbers 2 [ed. Friedmann, p. 2a]).

One of these set of rules is found in the siddur, from the "Introduction to Sifra" by Ishmael ben Elisha, c. 200 CE. These are known as the thirteen rules of exegesis.
[list]
[*] Kal va-Chomer (a fortiori): We find a similar stringency in a more lenient case; how more so should that stringency apply to our stricter case!
[*] Gezera shava, similarity in phrase: We find a similar law in a verse containing a similar phrase to one in our verse. This method can only be used in a case where there is a tradition to use it.
[*] Binyan av, either by one or two Scriptures: We find a similar law in another case, why shouldn't we assume that the same law applies here? Now the argument may go against this inference, finding some law that applies to that case but not to ours. This type of refutation is valid only if the inference was from one Scripture, not if it was from two Scriptures.

  • Klal ufrat, a generality and a particularity: If we find a phrase signifying a particularity following that of a generality, the particularity particularises the generality and we only take that particular case into account.
  • Prat ukhlal, a particularity and a generality: If the order is first the particularity and then the generality, we add from the generality upon the particularity, even to a broad extent.
  • Klal ufrat ukhlal, a generality, a particularity and a generality: If there is a particularity inserted between two generalities, we only add cases similar to the particularity.
  • Klal shehu tzarich lifrat, a generality that requires a particularity, and a particularity that requires a generality: If it is impossible to have the more general law without more specific examples or more specific cases without the statement of the general law, the above three rules don't apply.
  • Every thing that was within the general rule and was excluded from the rule to teach us a rule, we don't consider this rule as pertaining only to this excluded case, but to the entire general case.
  • Anything that was included in a general rule, and was excluded to be susceptible to one rule that is according to its subject, it is only excluded to be treated more leniently but not more strictly.
  • Anything that was included in a general rule and was excluded to be susceptible to one rule that is not according to its subject, it is excluded to be treated both more leniently and more strictly.
  • Anything that was included in a general rule and was excluded to be treated by a new rule, we cannot restore it to its general rule unless Scripture restores it explicitly.
  • A matter that is inferred from its context, and a matter that is inferred from its ending.
  • The resolution of two Scriptures that contradict each other [must wait] until a third Scripture arrives and resolves their apparent contradiction.

Codes of Jewish law
The Torah and the Talmud are not formal codes of law: they are sources of law. There are many formal codes of Jewish law that have developed over the past two thousand years. These codes have influenced, and in turn, have been influenced by, the responsa; History of Responsa thus provides an informative complement to the survey below.


palmtree
Christian Talk Member

Mood : I feel Blessed
Female

Number of posts : 95
Age : 27
Location : South Africa
Registration date : 2007-07-16
Points : 17210
Reputation : 0
Country :

Warning :

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Halakha

Post  palmtree on Tue 12 May 2009, 8:17 am

The major codes are:

  • The Mishnah, composed by Rabbi Judah the Prince, in 200 CE, as a basic outline of the state of the Oral Law in his time. This was the framework upon which the Talmud was based; the Talmud's dialectic analysis of the content of the Mishna (gemara; completed c. 500) became the basis for all later halakhic decisions and subsequent codes.
  • Codifications by the Geonim of the halakhic material in the Talmud. An early work, She'iltot ("Questions") by Achai of Shabcha (c. 752), discusses over 190 Mitzvot — exploring and addressing various questions on these. The first legal codex proper, Halakhot Pesukot ("Decided Laws"), by Yehudai Gaon (c. 760), rearranges the Talmud passages in a structure manageable to the layman. (It was written in vernacular Aramaic, and subsequently translated into Hebrew as Hilkhot Riu). Halakhot Gedolot ("Great Law Book"), by R. Simeon Kayyara, published two generations later, contains extensive additional material, mainly from Responsa and Monographs of the Geonim, and is presented in a form that is closer to the original Talmud language and structure. (Probably since it was distributed, also, amongst the newly established Ashkenazi communities.) The She'iltot was influential on both subsequent works.
  • The Hilchot of the Rif, Rabbi Isaac Alfasi (1013–1103), summations of the legal material in the Talmud. Alfasi transcribed the Talmud's halakhic conclusions verbatim, without the surrounding deliberation; he also excludes all Aggadic (non-legal, homiletic) matter. The Hilchot soon superseded the geonic codes, as it contained all the decisions and laws then relevant, and additionally, served as an accessible Talmudic commentary; it has been printed with almost every subsequent edition of the Talmud.
  • The Mishneh Torah (also known as the Yad Ha-Hazaqah for its 14 volumes; "yad" has a numeric value of 14), by Maimonides (Rambam; 1135–1204). This work encompasses the full range of Talmudic law; it is organized and reformulated in a logical system — in 14 books, 83 sections and 1000 chapters — with each Halakha stated clearly. The Mishneh Torah is very influential to this day, and several later works reproduce passages verbatim. It also includes a section on Metaphysics and fundamental beliefs. (Some claim this section draws heavily on Aristotelian science and metaphysics; others suggest that it is within the tradition of Saadia Gaon.) It is the main source of practical Halakha for many Yemenite Jews — mainly Baladi and Dor Daim — as well as for a growing community referred to as talmidei haRambam.
  • The work of the Rosh, Rabbi Asher ben Jehiel (1250?/1259?–1328), an abstract of the Talmud, concisely stating the final halakhic decision and quoting later authorities, notably Alfasi, Maimonides, and the Tosafists. This work superseded Rabbi Alfasi's and has been printed with almost every subsequent edition of the Talmud.
  • The Sefer Mitzvot Gadol (The "SeMaG") of Rabbi Moses ben Jacob of Coucy (13th century, Coucy, France). "SeMaG" is organised around the 365 negative and the 248 positive commandments, separately discussing each of them according to the Talmud (in light of the commentaries of Rashi and the Tosafot) and the other codes existent at the time.
  • "The Mordechai" — by Mordecai ben Hillel, d. Nuremberg 1298 — serves both as a source of analysis, as well of decided law. Mordechai considered about 350 halakhic authorities, and was widely influential, particularly amongst the Ashkenazi and Italian communities. Although organised around the Hilchot of the Rif, it is, in fact, an independent work. It has been printed with every edition of the Talmud since 1482.
  • The Arba'ah Turim (The Tur, The Four Columns) by Rabbi Jacob ben Asher (1270–1343, Toledo, Spain). This work traces the Halakha from the Torah text and the Talmud through the Rishonim, with the Hilchot of Alfasi as its starting point. Ben Asher followed Maimonides's precedent in arranging his work in a topical order, however, the Tur covers only those areas of Jewish religious law that were in force in the author's time. The code is divided into four main sections; almost all codes since this time have followed the Tur's arrangement of material.
    o Orach Chayim

    "The Way of Life" worship and ritual observance in the home and synagogue, through the course of the day, the weekly sabbath and the festival cycle.

    o Yoreh De'ah

    "Teach Knowledge" assorted ritual prohibitions, dietary laws and regulations concerning menstrual impurity.

    o Even Ha'ezer

    "The Rock of the Helpmate" marriage, divorce and other issues in family law.

    o Choshen Mishpat

    "The Breastplate of Judgment" The administration and adjudication of civil law.

  • The Beit Yosef, and the Shulchan Aruch of Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488–1575). The Beit Yosef is a huge commentary on the Tur in which Rabbi Karo traces the development of each law from the Talmud through later rabbinical literature (examining thirty-two authorities, beginning with the Talmud and ending with the works of Rabbi Israel Isserlein). The Shulchan Aruch is, in turn, a condensation of the Beit Yosef — stating each ruling simply (literally translated, Shulchan Aruch means "set table"); this work follows the chapter divisions of the Tur. The Shulchan Aruch, together with its related commentaries, is considered by many to be the most authoritative compilation of halakha since the Talmud. In writing the Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Karo based his rulings on three authorities — Maimonides (Rambam), Asher ben Jehiel (Rosh), and Isaac Alfasi (Rif); he considered the Mordechai in inconclusive cases. Sephardic Jews, generally, refer to the Shulchan Aruch as the basis for their daily practice.
  • The works of Rabbi Moshe Isserles ("Rema"; Krakσw, Poland, 1525 to 1572). Rema noted that the Shulkhan Arukh was based on the Sephardic tradition, and he created a series of glosses to be appended to the text of the Shulkhan Arukh for cases where Sephardi and Ashkenazi customs differed (based on the works of Yaakov Moelin, Israel Isserlein and Israel Bruna). The glosses are called Hamapah, the "Tablecloth" for the "Set Table". His comments are now incorporated into the body of all printed editions of the Shulkhan Arukh, typeset in a different script; today, "Shulchan Aruch" refers to the combined work of Karo and Isserles. Isserles' Darkhei Moshe is similarly a commentary on the Tur and the Beit Yosef.
  • The Shulchan Aruch HaRav of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (c. 1800) was an attempt to recodify the law as it stood at that time — incorporating commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch, and subsequent responsa — and thus stating the decided halakha, as well as the underlying reasoning. The work was written, partly, so that laymen would be able to study Jewish law. Unfortunately, most of the work was lost in a fire prior to publication. It is the basis of practice for Chabad-Lubavitch and other Hasidic groups, and is quoted as authoritative by many subsequent works, Hasidic and non-Hasidic alike.
  • "Layman oriented" digests of Halakha. The Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh of Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried (Hungary 1804–1886), based on the very strict Hungarian customs of the 19th century, became immensely popular after its publication due to its simplicity. This work is not binding in the same way as the Mishneh Torah or the Shulchan Aruch. It is still popular in Orthodox Judaism as a framework for study, if not always for practice. Chayei Adam and Chochmat Adam by Avraham Danzig (Poland, 1748–1820) are similar Ashkenazi works, but are regarded as a more appropriate basis for practice[citation needed]. The Ben Ish Chai by Yosef Chaim (Baghdad, 1832–1909) is a corresponding Sephardi work.
  • Works structured directly on the Shulchan Aruch, providing analysis in light of Acharonic material and codes. The Mishnah Berurah of Rabbi Yisroel Meir ha-Kohen, (the "Chofetz Chaim", Poland, 1838–1933) is a commentary on the "Orach Chayim" section of the Shulchan Aruch, discussing the application of each Halakha in light of all subsequent Acharonic decisions. It has become the authoritative halakhic guide for much of Orthodox Ashkenazic Jewry in the postwar period. Arukh HaShulkhan by Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829–1888) is a scholarly analysis of Halakha through the perspective of the major Rishonim. The work follows the structure of the Tur and the Shulkhan Arukh; rules dealing with vows, agriculture, and ritual purity, are discussed in a second work known as Arukh HaShulkhan he'Atid. Kaf HaChaim on Orach Chayim and parts of Yoreh De'ah, by the Sephardi sage Yaakov Chaim Sofer (Baghdad and Jerusalem, 1870–1939) is similar in scope, authority and approach to the Mishnah Berurah. Yalkut Yosef, by Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, is a voluminous, widely cited and contemporary work of Halakha, based on the rulings of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
  • Temimei Haderech ("A Guide To Jewish Religious Practice") by Rabbi Isaac Klein z'l' with contributions from the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly. This scholarly work is based on the previous traditional law codes, but written from a Conservative Jewish point of view. It is not accepted among Orthodox Jews.


palmtree
Christian Talk Member

Mood : I feel Blessed
Female

Number of posts : 95
Age : 27
Location : South Africa
Registration date : 2007-07-16
Points : 17210
Reputation : 0
Country :

Warning :

View user profile

Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum