Abstracts

COURTS

Ya'akov Bazak, Hashofet bedin ha'ivri, Jerusalem: Sifriyat hamishpat ha'ivri, 1985, Pp.52. - Judge Bazak here usefully collects classical Jewish sources on matters relating to the appointment, dignity and ethics of judges. (B.S.J.)

M. Chigier, Judge and Justice in Jewish Law, Compared with Israeli Law and the Law of Some Other Countries, Jerusalem: Ariel, distributed by Feldheim Publishers, Pp. 194. ó The works of Rabbi Dr. Chigier will be well known to readers of the Annual. Here, he provides a succinct survey of the judicial system in Jewish law, with chapters inter alia devoted to the Courts of Law, the qualifications and appointment of judges, refusal to adjudicate, the order of hearing of cases, civil and criminal procedure, new evidence after verdict, agreements between parties to vary the normal rules regarding qualification of judges or witnesses, compromise judgments, erroneous judgments, res judicata, "super justice" (the relations between law and morality, lifnim mishurat hadin, etc.), and the jurisdiction of the rabbinical courts. In many of the chapters, comparison is made between the traditional Jewish law position and practice in modern day Israel. Students will find here a clear and straightforward presentation of many important issues. (B.S.J.)

H. Niehr, "Zur Gerichtsorganisation Israels", Biblische Zeitschrift 31 (1987), 207-227. - Niehr evaluates attempts from 1931 to the present to write a history of Israel's legal system in the monarchy and premonarchical period. The modern consensus is that in the premonarchical era Israel was not an amphictyony but a segmented lineage society. This means that there was no permanent centralized legal system with a presiding judge. Legal decisions were made by the pater familias, or the elders in the gate. Occasionally disputes between lineage segments involved arbitration by representative elders. In the monarchy period the same system persisted with occasional royal intervention. However no central court was established until the time of Josiah. Jehoshaphat's legal reforms on these lines (2. Chron. 19:5-11) may be dismissed as one of the Chronicler's fictions. (G.J.W.)

H. Porat-Martin, Rabbinical and civil courts in Israel, Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, l979, Pp. vi, 421; see KS 58/1 no. 753.

Emanuel B. Quint and Neil S. Hecht, Jewish Jurisprudence. Its Sources and Modern Applications, Volume 2, Chur, London, Paris and New York: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1986, ISBN 3-7186 0064-1 (hard) 0293-8 (pbk), Pp. 237. - This is the second volume in a series designed to analyze and restate the substantive principles of Jewish law for the English speaking legal community. The authors have successfully achieved the objective stated in their Preface to the series: "Our objective is to present the Jewish legal system in an authentic and systematic manner. It is not a comparative study, not a literary criticism, nor an historical survey. We have striven to analyze Jewish law within its own unique framework as it was developed and formulated by the traditional halakhic authorities in the Talmud, compendiums, codes, commentaries, super-commentaries and Rabbinic responsa. Although writing in the English language, we have sought throughout to capture the spirit of halacha and its conceptual and linguistic nuances." The inclusion of the table of contents for Volume 1 is helpful in maintaining the continuity of the series and is a useful cross-reference. It also highlights the structure of the series which follows the order of Shulhan Arukh Hoshen haMishpat. In so doing, the authors follow a traditional and natural method of explicating substantive Jewish law topics by using the concise language of a code as the organizational point of departure for placing the normative law into a larger perspective. The authors trace the development of each concept from Talmudic through recent sources concluding each section with their view of the present status of Jewish law. The richness of this material is evident by the fact that Volume 2 covers the topics enumerated in Chapters 3-6 of Karo's Hoshen haMishpat. The Numerical Composition of the Courts; The Manner in Which a Person May Engage in Self-Help; When Court Sessions May Be Held; and The Minimum Monetary Jurisdiction of the Court. The layman will experience an opportunity to taste the flavour of Jewish law. The scholar will find important issues reformulated in a novel way; and, on occasion, the authors develop relevant topics which have heretofore been neglected. One such example is the author's detailed analysis of the right of a community to engage in self-help where it is a party to litigation. (H.B.M.)

Lawrence H. Schiffman, Sectarian Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Courts, Testimony and the Penal Code, Chico Ca.: Scholars Press, 1983, ISBN 0-89130-568-8 (569-6 pbk.), Pp. xv, 278, Price: $15.95, $10.95 (pkb.) (Brown Judaic Studies 33). - An introductory chapter describes the principal sources of Qumran Law, their inter-relationship, and the nature of Qumran Biblical exegesis which the author argues represents the origins of the Qumran lists of rules (the result, he suggests, of regular study sessions which were part of the life of the sect). Individual chapters are then devoted to detailed study of the rules concerning judges and their qualifications of witnesses, the law of testimony, reproof as a requisite for punishment, the restoration of lost or stolen property, the use of the divine names, the sectarian penal code, and the communal meal. A concluding chapter summarises various aspects of the law for the light it throws on the sect's self-perception, and the nature of its society. This is a stimulating and scholarly study, the interest of which for the early history of Jewish law is enhanced by the frequent comparisons made by the author with early rabbinic sources. (B.S.J.)

E. Shochetman, "Renewal of Semikhah According to Maimonides" (Heb.), Shenaton Hamishpat Ha'ivri 14-15 (1988-89), 217-243 - In his Mishneh Torah, Maimonides deals with the renewal of semikhah (ordination) and suggests that this would be possible if all the Sages in Erets Yisra'el would agree on such a step. This provision has no basis in the Talmud or any other classical source. At the conclusion of the passage, however, Maimonides states, "and the matter requires to be decided". The interpretation of this phrase has exercised halakhists throughout the ages, and, in particular, the circle of R. Jacob Berab in sixteenth century Safed, and rabbis and scholars during the years prior to and following the establishment of the State of Israel. The article analyses the views of the major protagonists in the sixteenth century debate over the renewal of semikhah i.e. R. Jacob Berab and R. Levi b. Habib, regarding this phrase, and proceeds to list the various solutions offered over the centuries. The common factor in all of these interpretations is the understanding that the phrase indicates a doubt on the part of Maimonides himself regarding his novel proposal for the renewal of semikhah. The present author offers a different interpretation according to which Maimonides was not expressing any reservation with regard to his own theory. The article concludes with a discussion of the legal basis for the reintroduction of semikhah in contemporary times. (D.B.S.)

Y. Suzuki, "Juridical Administration of the Royal State in the Deuteronomic Reformation", Seishogaku Ronshuu 20 (1985), 50-94; see OTA 9/2 (1986), no.483.


 

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