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Tuesday, 6 January 2015


Not in Heaven: The Nature and Function of Halakha,
Eliezer Berkovits, Ktav, 1983, page 1-2

Here, Berkovits points to the function of 'halakha' - Jewish law - or, more literally, "the walking", how to do it.

Halakha is the bridge over which the Torah moves from the written word into the living deed. It is handed down from generation to generation and accompanies the Written Torah along its journey of realisation in the innumerable concrete situations through which the Jewish people passes in the course of its history.

Since we are all alive in our specific times and contexts, there is no such thing as life in general. Halakha must therefore re-bridge the gap between theory and practice for each generation. Perhaps never more so that in our days, as Berkovits says:

The Torah has to become effective anew in the midst of revolutionary changes in the world situation as well as in the condition of the Jewish people. There has never been greater need for Halakha's creative wisdom of Torah-application to the daily realities of human existence than in our day.

Does that make sense?

Posted By Jonathan, 9:00am Comment Comments: 2

Tuesday, 6 January 2015
Comment -

"The walking" is such a helpful thing to underline. Evangelicals are typically afraid of "law" (with our mantra "we're not under law") and so instruction in how to walk the walk gets less emphasis than "believing" which can become a bit abstract and ungrounded.

My (gentile) suspicion is that in practice 'Halacha' has become more legal in mindset than a bridge from Torah to help us walk the walk.

Posted By Timothy Butlin 05:34pm


Tuesday, 6 January 2015
Comment -

In practice, you may well be right. As well as being Orthodox, Berkovits is a scholar and so may be painting more of an ideal picture. The Orthodox Jewish world seems ever ready to embrace a new restriction, but less enthusiastic about introducing a new leniency, based on the difficulty of overturning old Halacha.

Posted By Jonathan Allen 05:42pm