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The Bible presents only a small portion of the laws necessary for a state to function. Nevertheless, whole tractates of the Talmud discuss a wide variety of legal issues both civil and criminal. Although the jurisdiction of the beth din was limited in every land where Jews have lived, the scholars felt that it was important to develop a system which dealt with every aspect of life. Quite a few of the issues were discussed at a purely theoretical level. But faced with specific problems in their respective communities, the rabbinic scholars were forced to be practical and go beyond the traditional halakhah in order to protect the community. This mixture of idealism and reality shape the later rabbinic discussions, some elements of which have been incorporated into modern Israeli law, but also shape modern Jewish thinking in the Diaspora. This area of the halakhah has been rather neglected, but this volume will no doubt stimulate further research. Published in Association with the Solomon B. Freehof Institute of Progressive Halakhah
How do we expand health care coverage to more Americans? Are hate crimes legislation and affirmative action fair? What sacrifices must we make to protect the environment? Is the death penalty morally acceptable? Contributors include Jill Jacobs, of Jewish Funds for Justice; Arthur Waskow, director of The Shalom Center; and TV commentator and UCLA law professor Laurie Levenson.
For thousands of years the Jewish tradition has been a source of moral guidance, for Jews and non-Jews alike. As the essays in this volume show, the theologians and practitioners of Judaism have a long history of wrestling with moral questions, responding to them in an open, argumentative mode that reveals the strengths and weaknesses of all sides of a question. The Jewish tradition also offers guidance for moral conduct in both children and adults, and how to motivate people to do the right thing despite weakness and temptation. The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality offers a collection of original essays addressing these topics-historical and contemporary, as well as philosophical and practical-by leading scholars from around the world. The first section of the volume describes the history of the Jewish tradition's moral thought, from the Bible to contemporary Jewish approaches. The second part includes chapters on specific fields in ethics, including the ethics of medicine, business, sex, speech, politics, war, and the environment.
Inspired by existential thought, but using ethnographic methods, Jackson explores a variety of compelling topics, including 9/11, episodes from the war in Sierra Leone and its aftermath, the marginalization of indigenous Australians, the application of new technologies, mundane forms of ritualization, the magical use of language, the sociality of violence, the prose of suffering, and the discourse of human rights. Throughout this compelling work, Jackson demonstrates that existentialism, far from being a philosophy of individual being, enables us to explore issues of social existence and coexistence in new ways, and to theorise events as the sites of a dynamic interplay between the finite possibilities of the situations in which human beings find themselves and the capacities they yet possess for creating viable forms of social life. Michael Jacksonis a graduate of the Universities of Auckland (New Zealand and Cambridge (UK), and has, for many years, carried out ethnographic fieldwork in Sierra Leone and Aboriginal Australia. The author of numerous books of anthropology, including the prize-winning Paths Toward a Clearing and At Home in the World, he has also published five books of poetry and two novels. Michael Jackson has taught in his native New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and Denmark, where he is presently Professor of Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen.
This book surveys the Jewish Law of testimony as presented in the Talmud and its boundaries on loyalty in non-Jewish courts.
In Punishment and Freedom, Devora Steinmetz offers a fresh look at classical rabbinic texts about criminal law from the perspective of legal and moral philosophy. Steinmetz holds that the criminal and judicial procedures they describe were never designed to be applied in a real state. Rather, these texts deal with broader philosophical, theological, and ethical conceptions of the law. Through close readings of passages describing criminal procedure and punishment, Steinmetz argues that the Rabbis constructed an extreme positivist view of sinaitic law based in divine command. This view of law is related to a conception of the human being as fully free and responsible. Steinmetz contrasts this philosophy with the reflections on law in the Pauline letters and argues that the Rabbis see their own view of law as a key marker of Jewish identity that is tied to the rabbinic notion that human beings are charged with shaping the world and their own destiny. Punishment and Freedom is a valuable guide through talmudic discourse for scholars of Jewish thought, early Christianity, and legal philosophy.

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