60 Jurist 25 (2000)
Procedures of Jewish Law as the Path to Good-Ness and God-Ness: Halakhah in the Jewish Tradition

handle is hein.journals/juristcu60 and id is 27 raw text is: THE JURIST 60 (2000) 25-45

THE PROCEDURES OF JEWISH LAW
AS THE PATH TO GOOD-NESS AND GOD-NESS:
HALAKHAH IN THE JEWISH TRADITION
MICHAEL J. BROYDE*
Introduction
Law, both in matters of procedure and substance, has a universalistic
and a particularistic component to it; Jewish law is no different. This
essay was written to explain the works, process, and history of Jewish
law (halakhah) to the uninitiated. It assumes little background and hopes
to present complex topics about many different procedural areas of Jew-
ish law and theology (and the relationship between the two), so that those
who have never really examined Jewish law or the Jewish system should
have some sense of how the system called halakhah addresses many dif-
ferent matters.1 The first section of the article addresses the basic mean-
ing of the term halakhah and the relationship between law and theol-
ogy in Judaism. The second section provides a historical context for
precedent and hierarchy in the Jewish legal tradition. The third section
addresses ethical doctrines in Jewish law. The final section discusses
Jewish law as it functions today. Conclusions as a section is hardly
proper in timeless religious doctrines, and thus this article has none.
Jewish law goes on.
The Role of Theology in Jewish Law
The term halakhah (in Hebrew, the way or the path) is usually
interpreted to refer only to Jewish law as it relates to practical obser-
vance. However, it encompasses all of Judaism; law, theology, and ethics
are all encapsulated in the way a Jew must observe. Thus, halakhah
can be understood to refer to law in its largest definition: a structure in
* Michael J. Broyde is an Associate Professor of Law at Emory University. Angela
Riccetti's research assistance is graciously acknowledged.
1 Some of the material in this essay can also be found in the entry Halakhah, Law in
Judaism, in The Encyclopedia of Judaism (Leyden: Brill, 2000) 340-350.

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