Abstracts

CODIFICATION

E. Shochetman, "On the Contradictions in the Shulhan Arukh, and the Nature and Aims of this Work" (Heb.), Assufot 3 (ed. M. Benayahu, Jerusalem: Yad Harav Nissim, 1989), 323-329. - The author points out that the Shulhan Arukh contains both diverse halakhic rulings on the same issue and contradictions between different rulings on the identical subject. In order to explain these features of the Shulhan Arukh, the author argues that R. Joseph Karo did not intend to write a code of law, but merely to compile the existing halakhic material and update it in a concise fashion. An issue which is left unresolved in the Beth Yosef is often left open in the Shulhan Arukh as well. This argument is criticised by the editor in a lengthy afternote to the article. The critique is based mainly upon a different approach to the concept of halakhic codification to the one adopted by the author. (D.B.S.)

I. Twersky, "Rabbi Joseph Karo: Author of the Shulhan Arukh" (Heb.), Assufot 3 (ed. M. Benayahu, Jerusalem: Yad Harav Nissim, 1989), 245-262. - Unlike Maimonides' Mishneh Torah and the Arba Turim of R. Jacob b. Asher, the Shulhan Arukh does not seem to possess any meta-halakhic system for explaining or spiritualising the casuistic halakhic material with which it deals. This feature is especially surprising in the light of R. Joseph Karo's reputation as a Kabbalist. In the light of this reputation, one would have expected to find some mystical input in his formulation of the halakhah, especially in those areas which possess strong Kabbalistic significance. The author suggests that, in general, R. Karo was a great admirer of Maimonides' meta-halakhic system and was therefore often content merely to copy Maimonides' formulation of a particular halakhah together with its reason. A careful reading of various sections in the Shulhan Arukh reveals the great skill with which R. Karo utilizes Maimonidean texts on the nature and purpose of the Divine commandments in his Shulhan Arukh. It is also suggested that the absence of any overt Kabbalistic material in the Shulhan Arukh is evidence that R. Joseph Karo was not a Kabbalist in the mould of the great Kabbalists of his day. His Kabbalism was of an unconventional sort which did not allow him to blur the boundary between halakhah per se and meta-halakhic systems. (D.B.S.)

 

 

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