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Broyde, Michael J. / C. Pill, Shlomo

Setting the Table

An Introduction to the Jurisprudence of Rabbi Yechiel Mikhel Epstein’s Arukh HaShulhan


    144,70 € / $159.00 / £127.20*

    eBook (PDF)
    Publication Date:
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    To be published:
    May 2020
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    Aims and Scope

    One of the most basic questions for any legal system is that of methodology: how one interprets, analyzes, weighs and applies a mass of often competing legal rules, precedents, practices, customs, and traditions to reach final determinations and practical guidance about the correct legal-prescribed course of action in any given situation. Questions of legal methodology raise not only practical concerns, but theoretical and philosophical ones as well. We expect law to be more than the arbitrary result of a given decision maker’s personal preferences, and so we demand that legal methodologies to be principled as well as practical. These issues are especially acute in religious legal systems, where the stakes are raised by concerns for respecting not just human, but divine law. Despite this, the major scholars and codifiers of halakhah, or Jewish law, have only rarely explicated their own methods for reaching principled legal decisions. This book explains the major jurisprudential factors driving the halakhic jurisprudence of Rabbi Yehiel Mikhel Epstein, twentieth century author of the Arukh Hashulchan—the most comprehensive, seminal, and original modern restatement of Jewish law since Maimonides. Reasoning inductively from a broad review of hundreds of rulings from the Orach Chaim section of the Arukh Hashulchan, the book teases out and explicates ten core principles of halakhic decision-making that animate Rabbi Epstein’s halakhic decision-making. Along the way, it compares the Arukh Hashulchan methodology to that of the Mishna Berura. This book will help any reader understand important methodological issues in both Jewish and general jurisprudence.


    530 pages
    Jewish Law;Judaism;Rabbi Yechiel Mikhel Epstein;Legal Models;Mishnah Berurah;Methodology;Arukh HaShulhan;Talmud;Rabbinics;Resolution;Legal Opinions;Superogatory Religious Conduct;Mysticism;Custom;Temporal Rationalization;Halakhic Rules;Pragmatism;halakha;Maimonides;Orach Chayim;prayer;Sabbath observance;festival celebrations;tradition;minhag;legal principles;piety;biblical text

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    Michael J. Broyde is Professor of Law at Emory University and Director of its Center for the Study of Law and Religion. This book was written while Broyde was a Fulbright Senior Scholar and completed while he was a Visiting Professor of Law at Stanford. In his nearly thirty-year rabbinic career he was the Rabbi of the Young Israel Congregation in Atlanta and the Director of the Beth Din of America.Shlomo C. Pill is Senior Lecturer at Emory Law School and a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, where he is Deputy Director of Law and Judaism and Managing Editor of canopyforum.org. Dr. Pill received his LLM and SJD from Emory Univeristy, JD from Fordham Law School, and rabbinic ordination from Beit Midrash L’Talmud of Lander College.

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