Known in Hebrew as “Halakhah” (lit. “going” or “walking”), Jewish law represents a broad legal tradition regulating the full range of human activity including criminal matters, torts, worship, sexuality, marriage, divorce, diet, Sabbath observance, business ethics, and communal structure. Since the Middle Ages, a number of legal codes have purported to detail it in its entirety; however, no single book or set of books contains the full corpus of Jewish law. Rather, Jewish law is primarily a common law system with individual rabbis serving as judges who apply past precedents to novel situations. As rabbis may differ significantly in their interpretations of authoritative texts, individual practice under the aegis of Jewish law can vary widely from community to community.
The roots of Jewish law begin in the legal sections of the Pentateuch, Exodus 19–24, Leviticus 1–26, and Deuteronomy 4–26. These biblical law codes combine apodictic and casuistic laws, suggesting a...
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