Law, Halacha, and Education: New Directions in the Philosophy of Halacha

Avinoam Rosenak

Abstract: The philosophy of halacha (Jewish law) has until now most commonly been engaged in and studied as a branch of legal philosophy and has used its tools. And yet halacha has been recognized to have a different character from political law, with a unique contribution to make to the understanding of different legal systems. Rather than asking the usual questions asked in philosophy of halacha, which are derived from political and legal theory, this essay considers halacha as law whose goal is primarily educational, and approaches philosophy of halacha with questions derived from philosophy of education. As Plato's philosophy exemplifies, philosophy of education was once an integral part of political theory. Here I suggest that the separation of educational philosophy from legal and political philosophy has had an adverse effect on our understanding of Jewish political and, particularly, legal thought.

Biography: Avinoam Rosenak has been a lecturer in the department of Jewish thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem since 1995 and is also a research fellow at the Van Leer Institute. He obtained his PhD in Jewish philosophy from the Hebrew University. He has two forthcoming books on the philosophy of halacha, namely The Prophetic Halacha<,/i> (Magnes Press, 2006) and Halacha, Philosophy and Educational Sensitivity: New Streams in Philosophy of Halacha (Magnes Press, 2007). This year he will also publish Rabbi A.I.H. Kook: An Intellectual Biography (Zalman Shazar, 2006).

Volume 1, Number 3 (Spring 2006) pp. 343-372