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Autonomy in Jewish Law—In Theory and in Practice

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2015


Individuals and communities play critical roles, both theoretically and practically, in the preservation and development of Jewish law. Some of these roles allow for considerable autonomy, at least if that term is understood as the employment of one's intellectual creativity and ethical judgment. Jewish law does not purport to micromanage all of a person's decisions. Quite the contrary, in many instances, it provides and encourages moral choice so that, in part, a person can become a moral agent rather than merely someone who does moral acts.

In Part I, we examine how the scope of autonomy is shaped by basic Jewish law axioms. For example, Jewish law assumes that the Pentateuch, also known as the “Written Torah” or “Written Law,” contains words which were communicated to humankind directly by God. Yet, unlike the approaches of some fundamentalist religions, Jewish law does not always construe these divine words literally. In fact, Jewish law authorities openly acknowledge that various Pentateuchal passages, taken by themselves, are incomplete, incomprehensible or at times ostensibly inconsistent. Jewish law assumes that God transmitted to humankind two interrelated bodies of teachings: one, the Pentateuch, was to be written down, and the other, known as the “Oral Torah” or the “Oral Law,” was to be transmitted from Teacher to Student. It is the Oral Torah that clarifies, resolves and supplements the Written Torah. Indeed, because the Oral Torah is necessary to understand the Torah, Jewish legal sources say that “the Oral Torah is the more important of the two.” Throughout this article, unless stated to the contrary, the term “Torah” refers to the Written Torah, the Oral Torah, or both, and the phrase “Torah Law” pertains to the laws that arise from the Torah.

Copyright © Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University 2008

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1. This article eschews a broader or more philosophical exploration of the concept of “autonomy.” There is a plethora of literature addressing that question.

2. The word Pentateuch comes from the word “five” in Greek. The Pentateuch is also known in English as the Five Books of Moses and in Hebrew, based on the Hebrew word for “five,” as the “Chumash.”

3. See e.g. Chajes, Zevi Hirsch, The Students' Guide Through the Talmud: A Pre-eminent Scholar's Overview of Talmudic Literature and History (Shachter, Jacob ed. & trans., Yashar Books 2005)Google Scholar.

The Torah is divided into two parts, the written and the unwritten law. The former consists of the Pentateuch, which was divinely revealed to Moses at Sinai. The latter comprises expositions and interpretations which were communicated to Moses orally as a supplement to the former. Without them the scriptural texts would often be unintelligible since many of them seem to contradict others, and it is only by the aid of oral elucidation that their contradictions can be straightened out.

Id. at 1; see also Kaplan, Rabbi Aryeh, The Handbook of Jewish Thought 177 (Moznaim Publg. Corp. 1979)Google Scholar: “We thus speak of two Torahs. There is the written Torah… and the Oral Torah …. Both are alluded to in God's statement to Moses, ‘Come up to Me to the mountain, and I will give you … the Torah and the commandments.’”

4. Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 178 (citing various authorities, including the Talmud).

5. Jewish theology includes additional assumptions and tenets, but surveying them is unnecessary for this paper.

6. See e.g. Wurzburger, Walter S., Ethics of Responsibility: Pluralistic Approaches to Covenantal Ethics (Jewish Publication Socy. 1994)Google Scholar.

Jewish monotheism represents a radically different approach to religion. Its novelty consisted not primarily in the substitution of the belief in one God for the plurality of gods worshipped in polytheism. What was even more revolutionary in the Jewish conception of monotheism was, as against the pagan emphasis upon divine power, the attribution of moral perfection to God.

Id. at 4.

7. God wants them to emulate God's own morally perfect qualities. See e.g. Lev 19:2 (“You shall be holy, for holy am I, HaShem [i.e., the Lord], your God”); Deut 13:5 (“HaShem [i.e., the Lord], your God, shall you follow ….”). The translation is from The Chumash: The Stone Edition (Scherman, Nosson ed., Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 1993)Google Scholar. According to many authorities, as will be discussed in Part IV, infra, God not only desires that humans act morally, but that they become moral actors.

8. Wurzburger, supra n. 6, at 4-6.

9. He is also known as “Rambam.” For general biographical information, see Goldwurm, Hersh, The Rishomm 79 (2d ed., Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 2001)Google Scholar.

10. Maimonides wrote these Thirteen Principles in his Commentary to the Mishnah, Sanhedrin 10:1 (Hebrew); see also Feinstein, Moses, Iggerot Moshe, Yoreh De'ah 111:114 (Yeshivat Ohel Yosef Printers 19801981) (Hebrew)Google Scholar. Indeed, according to Maimonides, anyone who has even a doubt as the truthfulness of one of these principles would not, after his death, be able to enter “the World to Come.” Shapiro, Marc B., The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides' Thirteen Principles Reappraised 10 (Littman Lib. Jewish Civilization 2004)Google Scholar. Many Jewish law authorities disagree with Maimonides as to this last point. Id.

11. See e.g. Feinstein, supra n. 10.

12. For example, Dr. Immanuel Jakobovits (1921-99), former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, declares:

To me the belief in Torah min ha-shamayim (the divine revelation of the Torah), in its classical formulation by Maimonides, represents a definition of the essence of Judaism as inalienable as the postulate of monotheism. Until the rise of the reform movement in nineteenth-century Germany, this axiom of Judaism was never challenged or varied by any Jewish thinker or movement, whether traditional or sectarian.

Torah min ha-shamayim essentially means that the Pentateuch as we have it today is identical with the Torah revealed to Moses at Mount Sinai and that this expression of God's will is authentic, final, and eternally binding upon the Jewish people. Immaterial to this belief is the mode in which the Torah was communicated to Moses-whether by “dictation,” “verbal inspiration,” or some other mystic communion peculiar to prophecy.

The Condition of Jewish Belief: A Symposium, Compiled by the Editors of Commentary Magazine 109110 (Macmillan 1966) [hereinafter Commentary]Google Scholar. Similarly, Eliezer Berkovits (1908-92), former Chairman of the department of Jewish philosophy at Hebrew Theological College, affirms:

I believe that God did indeed speak to Moses, as the Bible says. I am, however, unable to imagine, much less to describe, the actual event.… The divine revelation of the Bible is the mysterious contact between God and man by which God communicated His truth and His law to Israel through Moses in a manner that excluded every possibility of doubt in the mind and conscience of the recipient of the revelation.… Revelation is a fundamental principle of Judaism.

Id. at 23-24; see also id. at 123 (comments of Norman Lamm, former president of Yeshiva University); id. at 236 (comments of Professor Moshe Tendler, Professor at Yeshiva University).

13. See sources cited in nn. 10-12, supra.

14. Roth, Joel, The Halakhic Process: A Systemic Analysis 9 (Jewish Theological Seminary Am. 1986)Google Scholar.

15. See e.g. Commentary, supra n. 12, at 23-24 (comments of Eliezer Berkovits). But see the words of Norman Lamm, former president of Yeshiva University:

The divine will, if it is to be made known, is sufficiently important for it to be revealed in as direct, unequivocal, and unambiguous a manner as possible, so that it will be understood by the largest number of the people to whom this will is addressed. Language, though so faulty an instrument, is still the best means of communication to most human beings.

Hence, I accept unapologetically the idea of the verbal revelation of the Torah.

Id. at 124.

16. The word “Tanna” (plural, “Tannaim”) is Aramaic and it is used here to refer to a sage who lived in the period from the first century of the common era to 220 of the common era. See Elon, Menachem, Jewish Law: History, Sources, Principles vol. 3, 1042 (Auerbach, Bernard & Sykes, Melvin J. trans., Jewish Publication Socy. 1994)Google Scholar; see also Birnbaum, Philip, A Book of Jewish Concepts 642643 (Hebrew Publg. Co. 1964)Google Scholar.

17. See Babylonian Talmud (“TB”), Sanhedrin 99.

18. See Feinstein, supra n. 10.

19. See Shapiro, supra n. 10, at 117 and, more generally, at 115-121.

20. If one understands Maimonides literally as saying that not a single letter was changed, one must assume that God not only dictated to Moses the precise words of the Torah but also that He informed Moses whenever a word was to be written deficiently. See Feinstein, supra n. 10.

21. Abraham Ibn Ezra (1089-1164), for instance, contends that what was important was the word and not the way it was spelled. According to him, each scribe was free to write the word in defective or plene form. See Shapiro, supra n. 10, at 100. For biographical information about Ibn Ezra, see Goldwurm, supra n. 9, at 73-74.

22. Shapiro, supra n. 10, at 91-131.

23. Id. at 94 n. 25 (“Most of these [textual differences in the medieval period] are very minor differences.”).

24. Interestingly, a thirteenth-century commentator, Moshe ben Nachman (Nahmanides; 1194-1260) suggests that a particular Tarma may have intentionally made one such variation in his own Torah scroll based on Jewish mystical considerations. Id. at 96 (citing Nahmanides's explanation for a variation in the text possessed by the Tanna Rebbe Meir). For biographical information about Nahmanides, see Goldwurm, supra n. 9, at 90-92.

25. According to Maimonides, anyone who even doubts the veracity of one of his thirteen principles will fail to enter the “World to Come.” Shapiro, supra n. 10. See Tucazinsky, Yechiel Michel, Gesher Hachaim (The Bridge of Life) 138158 (Tucazinsky, Harav Nissan Aharon trans., Moznaim 1983)Google Scholar for a description of views concerning the “World to Come.” Although most prominent Jewish authorities disagree with Maimonides about the fate of those who in good faith deny one or more of his Principles, Shapiro, supra n. 10, at 10-12, they continue to assert the truthfulness of the Eighth Principle.

In popular circles this aspect of [Maimonides' Eighth Principle] is often repeated dogmatically as if traditional Judaism is unimaginable without it. For example, J. Newman writes: “The version [of the Torah] in our hands today is identical with that which Moses received…. [T]he entire text, in every detail, now in our possession is the one given to Moses at Sinai.” Louis I. Rabinowitz writes: “The Masoretic text is the sole textus receptus of the Torah. All other readings represent man-altered variations from that authentic text.” Avraham Kushelevsky writes: “The text of the Torah has been preserved as it was given more than 3,000 years ago, without an addition or deletion of a verse, a single word, or even a single letter.”

Id. at 90-91 (citations omitted). Nevertheless, even if the Text had suffered some minor changes, this would not necessarily affect the Torah laws contained within it.

26. As Jakobovits puts it:

This is fundamental rather than purely fundamentalistic. If ethical laws were good, immutable, and divine because their virtue is manifest to reason, intuition, conscience, or any other human faculty, or if the validity of any law in the Torah were subject to human discrimination—accepting those as “divine” which appeal to our present—day notions and rejecting as “man-made” those we do not understand-the whole structure of Judaism as a revealed religion would collapse. We would create a god in man's own image; for man, not God, would determine what is “divine” law, using Him only as a rubber stamp to “authenticate” purely human judgments. Judaism stands or falls by the heteronomy of the law: “He hath told thee, O man, what is good” (Mic 6:8), not the reverse.

See Commentary, supra n. 12, at 110. Similarly, Wurzburger states: “In case of conflict with an explicit biblical prohibition, ail other considerations must be disregarded, because ‘there is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against God.’” Wurzburger, supra n. 6, at 26 (citing Prov 21:30, as it is interpreted in T.B., Berakhot 19b).

27. The analyses offered by both sides are complex and extensive and cannot be painstakingly examined in this paper. For arguments supporting various versions of the Documentary Hypothesis, see e.g. Nicholson, Ernest W., The Pentateuch in the Twentieth Century: The Legacy of Julius Wellhausen (Oxford U. Press 2003)Google Scholar; Habel, Norman C., Literary Criticism of the Old Testament (Fortress Press 1971)Google Scholar; Friedman, Richard Elliot, Who Wrote the Bible? (Harper & Row 1989)Google Scholar; but see e.g. Cassuto, Umberto, The Documentary Hypothesis (Natl. Bk. Network 2006)Google Scholar; Nathan Lopes Cardozo, On Bible Criticism and its Counterarguments, http://www.simpletoremember.eom/articles/a/BibleCriticismandItsCounterarguments (accessed May 22, 2009).

Aside from the plethora of “technical” literature on this subject, there are, of course, many logically appealing arguments for believing in the divine authorship of the Torah. Despite constraints on the length of this paper, we will mention one that is advanced in Coopersmith's, Yitzchak compilation The Eye of a Needle (Feldheim Publishers 1993)Google Scholar. If humans authored the Pentateuch, why would they have included some of the laws that they did? For example, the Pentateuch requires that, on the seventh year, farmers in Israel must leave their fields fallow. They are promised that the land will bring forth enough on the sixth year to provide for three years, from the sixth year until after the harvest on the eighth year:

For six years you may plant your fields, prune your vineyards, harvest your crops but the seventh year is the Sabbath of the land in which you may not plant your fields nor prune your vineyards. Do not harvest crops that grow on their own. Do not gather the grapes on your unpruned vines since it is a year of rest for the land.

And if you ask, what will we eat in the seventh year? We haven't planted nor have we harvested crops. I will direct my blessing to you in the sixth year and the land will produce enough crops for three years.

Lev 25:3-6. Why would human authors include such a rule in the Pentateuch, especially if they wanted their religion to last more than six years? The Eye of a Needle: Aish Ha Torah's Kintv Primer 8385 (Coopersmith, Yitzchak ed., Targum Press, Inc. 2005) [hereinafter The Eye of a Needle]Google Scholar.

Similarly, the Torah requires that all males must travel to Jerusalem to celebrate three specific holidays:

Three times each year all your males shall thus present themselves before God the Master, the Lord of Israel [in Jerusalem]. When I expel the nations before you and extend your boundaries, no one will be envious of your land when you go to be seen in God's presence three times each year.

Exod 34:23-24. But by traveling to Jerusalem, the men would be leaving their homes, possessions, and cities unprotected. Why would human authors, who could not guarantee that other nations would not “be envious of your land,” include such a rule in the Pentateuch? Even if there were some perceived practical reason to require all males to visit Jerusalem annually, why not require them to come in staggered shifts? If one assumes human authorship of the Pentateuch, one would also have to assume that the human authors were not too clever. The Eye of a Needle, supra at 85.

There are also some “intuitive” arguments against the Documentary Hypothesis. For example, the Documentary Hypothesis presumes that various documents were written in different centuries. But there is no record of even a single dramatically new document being disclosed by or to the rabbis or of any new, combined document being introduced. This is quite interesting because one would have expected the disclosure of each such document to have caused quite a stir. Although one might argue that history is written by the victors of “culture wars,” this argument seems less true as to Jewish history which tends to record minority and aberrant opinions. Yet even though the Talmud provides actual examples of deeds by Sadducees who did not acknowledge much of the Oral Torah, see e.g. T.B., Sanhedrin 90b, it provides no examples of people who contested that any new version of the Pentateuch was authored or introduced in his time. Instead, we have evidence of millennia during which the Torah was universally accepted as a single document that was transmitted to Moses. See the sources cited in nn. 10-12, supra.

28. Many scholars in the Conservative Movement accept the Documentary Hypothesis but also maintain that, in theory, Jewish law is binding. Still, there is a split among Conservative scholars regarding whether the Torah is the word of God or the product of human agency. Nonetheless, many leading thinkers of the movement have held that the Pentateuch reflects the Divine Will. See e.g. Heschel, Abraham Joshua, Tucker, Gordon & Levin, Leonard, Heavenly Torah: As Refracted through the Generations 678 (“The unity of the Torah has its root in the unity of the Will revealed in it.”)Google Scholar.

On the other hand, there are articles, by some Conservative rabbis, as well as by Reform rabbis, that purport to discuss “Jewish law,” but that contend that Jewish law is not “obligatory” and that a person should only follow Jewish law with respect to those rules which the person considers to be ethically meaningful. Thus, Conservative Rabbi Edward Feld writes:

Our changed concept of revelation, induced by our acceptance of modern biblical scholarship, alters the sacred character of the Bible and necessitates a new way of viewing the Halakhah [i.e., Jewish law]. The authority of halakhah stems from its intimate connection with the Bible …. Ultimately, in the self-understanding of the tradition, Jewish law is meaningful because God commanded it. Thus the Halakhah is a system of mitzvoth: revealed commandments. Take away the notion of revelation, and halakhah floats like a castle built on air.

Yet we have been nurtured on an understanding of revelation that stems from a critical analysis of the Biblical text, different from and more complex than the traditional understanding of revelation. For instance, we do not believe that the contradictions in the text of the Torah were put there to teach us a new halakhah; instead, we know that they are there because the Torah was written over a rather lengthy period of time. Thus, the very basis of talmudic exegesis is undercut. We may then relate to halakhah as tradition, but not as revelation, not as mitzvah.

Dorff, Elliot N., The Unfolding Tradition: Jewish Law After Sinai 207208 (Aviv Press 2006)Google Scholar.

This attitude, while only one of many within the Conservative Movements, is the “official” position of the Reform Movement. Consider, for instance, the Pittsburgh Platform adopted in 1885:

We recognize in the Mosaic legislation a system of training the Jewish people for its mission during its national life in Palestine, and today we accept as binding only its moral laws, and maintain only such ceremonies as elevate and sanctify our lives, but reject all such as are not adapted to the views and habits of modern civilization.

Id. at 99.

29. Wurzburger, supra n. 6, at 6. Similarly, at 26, “In case of conflict with an explicit biblical prohibition, all other considerations must be disregarded, because ‘there is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against God.’” (citing Prov 21:30, as it is interpreted in T.B., Berakhot 19b).

30. See Commentary, supra n. 12, at 24. Eliezer Berkovits states:

Only non-Jews have been fundamentalists, never Jews who took their place within Judaism. For them every word of the Torah and, of course, every commandment, has its source in God; but the meaning of the revealed word or commandment is given in the oral tradition, the Torah she-be 'al peh alone, or is elucidated by its method.


31. Exod 31:14.

32. Exod 31:15.

33. See e.g. Dr.Grunfeld, Dayan I., The Sabbath: A Guide to Its Understanding and Observance 3 (3d ed., Feldheim Publishers 1972)Google Scholar (“Our sages call the Sabbath Yesod Haemunah, the very foundation of our faith.”).

34. See Halevi, Judah, The Kuzari: An Argument for the Faith of Israel 166168 (Schocken Books 1964) (providing many examples)Google Scholar.

35. See e.g. Chajes, supra n. 3, at 3 (citing Maimonides as writing: “All the Sinaitic precepts were communicated to Moses with interpretations.”).

36. Halevi, supra n. 34, at 167-168.

37. Deut 12:21.

38. Halevi, supra n. 34, at 167.

39. Lev 23:40.

40. Gen 17:12.

41. Id. The Oral Torah also provided clarifications of Pentateuchal statements that do not set forth commandments, although some of them do refer to commandments. For example, in one place (Deut 16:8), the Torah announces that unleavened bread is eaten during Passover for six days, but in another place (Exod 12:5), it says that it is eaten for seven days. The Oral Torah explains that the reference to six days refers to the number of days during which the eating of unleavened bread is purely voluntary, because, other than on the first day of the seven-day holiday, there is no commandment to eat unleavened bread. A person can simply choose to eat other foods. On the first day, however, a person is obligated to eat unleavened bread. The reference to seven days, therefore, includes the first day in the count. See Schimmel, H. Chaim, The Oral Torah: A Study of the Rabbinic Contribution to Torah She-Be-Al-Peh 22 (2d ed., Feldheim Publishers 1996) (citing T.B., Pesahim 120a)Google Scholar; see Chajes, supra n. 3, at 1-2 (providing additional examples of ostensible inconsistencies reconciled by the Oral Torah).

42. Schimmel, supra n. 41, at 22. For this and other proofs, see Gil Student, The Oral Torah, at (accessed Mar. 17, 2009); Chajes, supra n. 3, at 1-16.

43. Bergman, Meir Zvi, Gateway to the Talmud 45 (Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 1986)Google Scholar.

44. Exod 21:22-25.

45. Rosenberg, Irene Merker & Rosenberg, Yale L., Lone Star Liberal Musings on ‘Eye for Eye’ and the Death Penalty, 1998 Utah L. Rev. 505, 510 (1998)Google Scholar.

46. See e.g. T.B., Bava Kamma 83b; see also Mark L. Goodman, A Very Brief Note on a Very Unkind Cut, (accessed Mar. 19, 2009); Wikipedia, Oral Torah, (accessed Sept. 23, 2008).

47. A “Baraisa,” “Braisa” or a “Braitha” is a Tannaitic statement that was not included by Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi in the Mishnah. See Birnbaum, supra n. 16, at 103-104.

48. This translation is based very closely on that found in Yisroel Simcha Schorr's book, Talmud Bavli, Tractate Bava Kamma, although I have not followed the complex formatting scheme it employs. Talmud Bavli: The Schottenstein Edition, Tractate Bava Kamma vol. 3, 83b4-83b5 (Schorr, Yisroel Simcha ed., Mesorah Publications 2001)Google Scholar. Maimonides states that there was never a sage who would say “that one who takes out the eye of his fellow has his eye removed as an observance of the verse, ‘Eye replaces eye.’ (Deut 19:21)” See Maimonides, , Maimonides' Introduction to the Talmud 82 (Lampel, Zvi trans., Judaica Press 1998)Google Scholar [hereinafter, Introduction]; see also Goodman, supra n. 46; Wikipedia, supra n. 46.

49. See e.g. Fish, Morris J., An Eye for an Eye: Proportionality as a Moral Principle of Restraint, 28Oxford J. Leg. Studies 57, 60 (2008)Google Scholar.

While it seems clear that the lex talionis under Mosaic law advocated the direct punishment of the wrongdoer, scholars who have analysed the text of the Pentateuch have sought more particularly to determine the exact nature of the punishment mandated. Most have concluded that the original meaning of an “eye for an eye” in the Pentateuch related to monetary compensation for the injured eye, rather than the infliction of an identical (or even similar) injury on the wrongdoer. To the Rabbis, “talion was a principle of divine, not human justice.” (internal citations omitted).

50. Id. For this and two additional “classical” proofs that the phrase, “an eye for an eye,” was never intended to be taken literally, see Maimonides, supra n. 48, at 93 n. 6.

51. See Hirsch, Ammiel & Reinman, Yosef, One People, Two Worlds 28 (Schocken Books 2002)Google Scholar.

52. Maimonides, Introduction, supra n. 48, at 81.

53. Schimmel, supra n. 41, at 34; Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 1.

54. Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 1, 205.

55. Maimonides, Introduction, supra n. 48, at 82-85. The Talmud does contain debates as to whether there are Scriptural “hints “for some of these Torah laws. Maimonides, however, argues that no one actually questioned the validity of the basic rules. Similarly, on occasion there seem to have been disagreements regarding some small facets of these rules. Nevertheless, there is no case concerning a Halacha Le Moshe Misinai in which one Tanna declares an object permissible to eat or permissible to perform while another Tanna declares that the object or act is prohibited. Schimmel, supra n. 41, at 34 n. 8.

56. Jewish law assumes that these rules, just as the rest of the Oral Torah, were transmitted by God to Moses. See e.g. Chajes, supra n. 3, at 21. Consequently, all of the laws derived therefrom are “the natural development of the text itself.” Id. at 22. Some significant differences developed between and among Talmudic sages regarding the proper hermeneutic rules. See Elon, supra n. 16, at 316-317. In part, this led to disparate views as to a number of Torah laws. Cf. Chajes, supra n. 3, at 111 (pointing out that many Talmudic disputes involve the proper application of the hermeneutical rules and of logic).

57. See e.g. Bergman, supra n. 43, at 120-156; Mielziner, Moses, Introduction to the Talmud 117186 (Bloch Publg. Co. 1968)Google Scholar; Rosensweig, Bernard, The Hermeneutic Principles and Their Application, 13 Tradition 49 (1972)Google Scholar. The use of several of these rules was subject to significant restrictions. Rosensweig, supra, at 56 (a sage could not use the rule known as Gezerah Shavah to propose a new Jewish law rule; a sage could only use the rule in a way that he had been expressly taught by his teacher).

58. Lev 1:2.

59. Bergman, supra n. 43, at 140-141. Inasmuch as the Pentateuch only wanted to include domestic animals, one might wonder why it began with the general term “beasts.” The answer is that had the verse been written differently, application of other rules of interpretation would have caused other problems. Id. at 141.

60. Mat 141-142.

61. See Schimmel, supra n. 41, at 60-63.

62. See e.g. T.B., Baba Kama 46b (Hebrew), (asking “[w]hy bring a proof to your point from a Torah verse; your point is true as a matter of logic!”); see also T.B., Kettuboth 22a, Niddah 25a; see generally Schimmel, supra n. 41, at 50-52; Chajes, supra n. 3, at 29-31.

63. Schimmel, supran. 41, at 50-51.

64. See e.g. Chajes, supra n. 62, at 30 n. 9 (identifying a dispute among rabbinic authorities as to whether a particular law is based on logic or on an express Pentateuchal verse). Note, however, that in addition to serving as the source of some Torah laws, “logic” (in the sense of “legal reasoning”) plays an important role in applying Torah laws to particular cases. See e.g. Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 3, 987-1014.

65. Num 27:18-23.

66. See e.g. Segal, Peretz, Jewish Law During the Tannaitic Period, in An Introduction to the History and Sources of Jewish Law 101, 124127 (Hecht, al. eds., Oxford U. Press 1996)Google Scholar; see generally Birnbaum, supra n. 16, at 440.

67. See Segal, supra n. 66.

68. See Feinstein, Moses, Dibrot Moshe: Shabbat 126127 (Mesorah Heritage Found. 1995) (Hebrew)Google Scholar.

69. See Wurzburger, supra n. 6, at 7.

70. See Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 209.

71. Id.

72. Segal, supra n. 66, at 126.

73. Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 198.

74. Num 11:16.

75. See generally Turkel, Eli, The Nature and Limits of Rabbinic Authority, 27 Tradition 8082 (1993)Google Scholar.

76. Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 197.

77. T.B. Yebamot 90b, Sanhedrin 46a.

78. See Turkei, supra n. 75, at 82.

79. Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 209. Some people might mistakenly believe that the Israeli Chief Rabbinate might currently possess such authority. Nevertheless, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate is an institution within Israel's secular governmental structure. Although many of the rabbis who have held positions within the Israeli Chief Rabbinate have been outstanding scholars, they have not necessarily been the greatest scholars in Israel. Even if they had been the greatest scholars in the land of Israel, this would not have given them the authority that the Great Sanhedrin enjoyed. For an interesting article exploring the status of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, see Lichtenstein, Aharon, The Israeli Chief Rabbinate: A Current Halakhic Perspective, 26 Tradition 26 (1992)Google Scholar.

80. See e.g. Fendel, Zechariah, Lights of the Exile: Early Acharonim 13-14, 118-120, 145-147 (Hashkafah Publications 2001) (discussing efforts to revive Mosaic ordination, which would ultimately permit reestablishment of the Sanhedrin ha-Gadol)Google Scholar.

81. Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 210.

82. Id.

83. See Arukh, Shulhan, Hoshen Mishpat 2Google Scholar.

84. See Turkel, supra n. 75, at 83-84, 86.

85. Deut 18:15.

86. See Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 2, 520 n. 117; see also Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 165-166.

87. Deut 12:13-14.

88. I Kings 18:3-38.

89. See Maimonides, Introduction, supra n. 48, at 50; Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 1, 242-243.

90. Non-Torah rule, whether based on local legislation, customs or the like, may be added.

91. Maimonides, Introduction, supra n. 48, at 50.

92. Deut 30:12.

93. See Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 1, 261-263 (describing a fascinating event in which one Tanna tried to prove that he was right and his colleagues wrong by calling upon the Heavens for miracles as “proofs.” Although the miracles were forthcoming, the colleagues rejected them, insisting that the Torah was given to man and that Jewish law conclusions could only be based on valid Jewish law analysis.).

94. See Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 111-112.

95. Deut 17:15.

96. See generally Bleich, J. David, Contemporary Halakhic Problems vol. IV (KTAV Publg. H., Inc. 1995)Google Scholar; Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 1, 55-57.

97. Maimonides, , Mishneh Torah, Laws of Courts 5:1 (Hebrew)Google Scholar; Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 166.

98. Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 1, 77-85.

99. This may be because, in the absence of a Jewish king, rabbinic authorities may possess executive powers. See e.g. Turkel, supra n. 75, at 81.

100. Herzog, Isaac, The Main Institutions of Jewish Law vol. 1, 810 (2d ed., Soncino Press Ltd. 1965)Google Scholar.

101. T.B., Berakhot 19b.

102. See Schimmel, supra n. 41, at 87-88 (stating that this is the view taken by Maimonides).

103. Id. (citing view of Nahmanides and others).

104. See e.g. id. at 59.

105. Maimonides, Introduction, supra n. 48, at 73.

106. See Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 185-186.

107. See Maimonides, Introduction, supra n. 48, at 70:

And why did Rabbaynu Hakadosh [i.e., Rebbe] do this [i.e., compile and publish the Mishnah], and not leave matters the way they had been up to then? Because he saw that the disciples were diminishing in number and leaving, that the persecutions were intensifying and multiplying, that the Roman Empire was extending its power over the globe and strengthening, and that Israel was continuously being dispersed throughout the extremities of the earth.

He therefore compiled this one work to be in the possession of all, so that they could learn quickly and in a way that they would not forget. So he and his Bes Din [i.e., his rabbinic court] sat all their days teaching the Mishna publicly. See also Bergman, supra n. 43, at 45-46.

108. Bergman, supra n. 43, at 46-48.

109. Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 187. Early authorities dispute whether Rabbi Yehuda ha-Nasi merely arranged the Mishnah and taught it orally or whether he actually was the person who published them. Bergman, supra n. 43, at 46.

110. See e.g. Maimonides, Introduction, supra n. 48, at 143.

111. See Bergman, supra n. 43, at 55:

Rav compiled the Sifra and the Sifrei to expound and teach the basic principles of the Mishnah. R' Chiya compiled the Tosefta to explain the subject matter of the Mishnah. … The sages of the Mishnah composed other works to expound the words of the Torah. … R' Hoshaya, a disciple of R' Judah the Prince, wrote an exposition of Genesis, and R' Yishmael wrote a commentary on the Torah, from the beginning of Exodus through Deuteronomy; this is called Mechilta. R' Akiva also wrote a Mechilta, and other Sages compiled midrashim. All these works were composed before the Babylonian Talmud.

See generally Neusner, Jacob, Introduction to Rabbinic Literature 249351 (Doubleday 1999) (discussing the Mechilta, Sifra and Sifrei)Google Scholar.

112. Rabbi Yohanan was primarily responsible for editing the debates in the Jerusalem academies, and this resulted in publication of the Jerusalem Talmud circa 279. See e.g. Bergman, supra n. 43, at 61. Some say it was redacted later. See Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 3, 1097. The authority of the Babylonian Talmud, however, far eclipsed that of the Jerusalem Talmud. Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 3, 1097-1098.

The character of the redaction, the political conditions, and factors internal to the Jewish community all worked against the widespread study of the Jerusalem Talmud, which was considered less authoritative than the Babylonian Talmud. Pursuant to a principle established in a later period, Talmudic law may be ascertained from both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, but in case of a conflict between them, the Babylonian Talmud is determinative.

Id.; see also Steinsaltz, Adin, The Essential Talmud 80 (Galai, Chaya trans., Basic Books 1976)Google Scholar (“Only about thirty editions [of the Jerusalem Talmud] have been produced to the present day, and they cannot compare in precision and in the quality of the commentary to the Babylonian Talmud. The Jerusalem Talmud still awaits its redeemer.”).

113. Bimbaum, supra n. 16, at 45-50. Deliberations in the Babylonian academies continued well after those in their Jerusalem counterparts. Rav Ashi (352-427) and his colleague Ravina (d. 500), who were among the last of the Amoraim, spent many years compiling and redacting these debates into the Babylonian Talmud. The Amoraim attempted to solve Jewish law questions with the teachings of the Tannaim. The last generation of Amoraim, however, confronted a number of problems which they were able to resolve based on their own reasoning but for which they were unable to find Tannaitic support. As a result, they chose not to include their solutions in the Talmud, and left the questions unanswered. Gaon, Sherira, The Iggeres of Rav Sherira Gaon 82 (Rabinowich, Nosson Dovid trans. & annotator, Rabbi Jacob Joseph Sch. Press-Ahavath Torah Inst.-Moznaim 1988) (in the annotation)Google Scholar. See also Bergman, supra n. 43, at 77.

The Savoraim (“Reasoners” or “Ponderers”) followed the Amoraim. They added the Amoraims' own explanations to the text and sometimes added their own comments by adding anonymous narration. Sherira Gaon, supra. The Savoraim were the last to contribute to the actual Talmudic text, which was published in 505. Id.

114. One very important rule, for instance, is “Dina Demalkhuta Dina” (“the law of the Kingdom is the Law”). Nevertheless, it is unclear whether this is a Torah principle or a rabbinic principle. See generally Broyde, Michael J. & Resnicoff, Steven H., Jewish Law and Modern Business Structures: The Corporate Paradigm, 43 Wayne L. Rev. 1685, 1769-1773 (1997)Google Scholar; Resnicoff, Steven H., Bankruptcy-A Viable Halachic Option?, 24 J. Halacha & Contemporary Socy. 5 (Fall 1992)Google Scholar; Grunfeld, Dayan I., The Jewish Law of Inheritance (Targum Press 1987)Google Scholar; Shilo, Shmuel, Dina Demalkhuta Dina (Hebrew U. Press 1974) (Hebrew)Google Scholar.

115. Of course, it is much more than that. See e.g. Steinsaltz, supra n. 103, at 4:

The Talmud is the repository of thousands of years of Jewish wisdom, and the Oral Torah, which is as ancient and significant as the written law (the Torah), finds expression therein. It is a conglomerate of law, legend, and philosophy, a blend of unique logic and shrewd pragmatism, of history and science, anecdotes and humor. It is a collection of paradoxes: its framework is orderly and logical, every word and term subjected to meticulous editing, completed centuries after the actual work of composition came to an end; yet it is still based on free association, on a harnessing together of diverse ideas reminiscent of the modern stream-of-consciousness novel ….

116. See Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 1, 39 (citing Maimonides). Elon stated: Everything in the Babylonian Talmud is binding on all Israel. Every town and country must follow the customs, obey the decrees, and carry out the enactments of the Talmudic Sages, because the entire Jewish people accepted everything contained in the Talmud. The Sages who adopted the enactments and decrees, instituted the practices, rendered the decisions, and derived the laws, constituted all or most of the Sages of Israel. It is they who received the tradition of the fundamentals of the entire Torah in unbroken succession going back to Moses, our teacher.

Id. at vol. 3, 1099 (quoting Maimonides's Introduction to the Mishneh Torah); see also Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 191 (citing numerous authorities); Berachyahu Lifshitz, The Age of the Talmud, in An Introduction to the History and Sources of Jewish Law, supra n. 66, at 179; Jeffrey R. Woolf, The Parameters of Precedent in Pesak Halakhah, 27 Tradition 41 n. 27 (Summer 1993):

According to Vilna Gaon, the restriction of argument to post-talmudic authorities is based upon the assumption that the authentic chain of the Oral Law ended with the “sealing” of the Talmud in the days of Rav Ashi and Ravina. … Subsequent generations are not allowed, therefore, to differ with statements in the Talmud.

117. Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 1, 40; see also Steinsaltz, supra n. 103:

In many ways the Talmud is the most important book in Jewish culture, the backbone of creativity and of national life. No other work has had a comparable influence on the theory and practice of Jewish life. …

Id. at 3. And:

Even before the Talmud was completed, it was evident that this work was to become the basic text and primary source for Jewish law. It is actually the last book of source material in Jewish literature, since the works that followed were to a large extent based on it, derived their authority from it, and consulted it whenever necessary for elucidation of theoretical and practical problems. In many ways the Talmud is the most important book in Jewish culture, the backbone of creativity and of national life.

Id. at 64.

118. The sages who followed the final compilation of the Talmud were known as “Geonim.” The Gaonic period lasted from 589 to 1038. Elon, supra n. 16, at 83; Bergman, supra n. 43, at 7881. This generation of authorities was followed by another known as “Rishonim” (“First Ones”) from the 11th through the 15th centuries. See generally Goldwurm, supra n. 9. Some of these authorities authored books enumerating and expounding on the commandments of the Torah, while others wrote incisive and, in some cases, comprehensive Talmudic commentaries. Still others rendered specific legal conclusions on a great many questions based on the Talmud. Some of these authorities set forth their rulings in the order in which the questions are addressed in the Talmud. Because the Talmud often goes off in wide-ranging tangents, these sets of legal conclusions can be virtually inaccessible to those unfamiliar with the underlying Talmudic debates. Other authorities, however, arranged their rulings by subject, making them user-friendly even to those with little direct experience with the Talmud. Maimonides, for example, created an elaborate framework in which he analytically organized virtually all facets of Jewish law. This work was entitled, the “Mishneh Torah.” See generally Birnbaum, supra n. 16, at 400-402. Another authority, Rav Yaakov ben Asher (c. 1275-1340), focused only on the body of Jewish law that was most relevant in the post-Temple time, and divided it into four parts, called the Arba'ah Turim (Four Columns). For general biographical information on Rav Yaakov ben Asher, see Goldwurm, supra n. 9, at 147. For information about the Arba'ah Turim, see generally Birnbaum, supra n. 16, at 243-244. Following the Rishonim, came scholars known as Acharonim (“Later Ones”). See generally The Early Acharonim (Goldwurm, Hersh ed., Mesorah Publications 1989)Google Scholar.

119. Rabbi Yosef Caro lived from 1488 to 1575. For general biographical information, see The Early Acharonim, supra n. 118, at 84.

120. For an interesting note regarding the curious process of naming of Jewish Law works, see Broyde & Resnicoff, supra n. 114, at 1692 n. 13.

121. Moses Isserles lived from 1530 to 1572. For biographical information, see Goldwurm, supra n. 117, at 75.

122. Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 3, 1385-1422 (describing both initial opposition to the Shulhan Arukh as well as its ultimate acceptance as the most “definitive” Jewish law code). See also Woolf, supra n. 116, at 48 n. 28 (“Many authorities contend that in these days one must not disagree with explicit rulings of R. Joseph Caro or Rema.”).

123. One of the most significant of these codes is the Commentary entitled, Mishnah Berurah, written by ha-Kohen, Yisroel Meir (Chafetz Chaim, 18381933)Google Scholar.

124. See generally Sperber, Daniel, Paralysis in Contemporary Halakha?, 36 Tradition 10 (Fall 2002)Google Scholar.

125. As to the role of responsa, see generally Goldish, Matt, Jewish Questions: Responsa on Sephardic Life in the Early Modern Period (Princeton U. Press 2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

126. Mishnah, , Teachings of the Fathers 1:6 (“Joshua ben P'rahyah said: Provide yourself with a teacher. …”)Google Scholar. See Bunim, Irving M., Ethics From Sinai vol. 1, 62 (Philipp Feldheim, Inc. 1964)Google Scholar, which explains that this means: “Commit yourself to his authority [i.e., the authority of the rabbi you have chosen for yourself] and abide by his decisions.”

127. See supra n. 116; see also Levi, Yehudah, Torah Study: A Survey of Classic Sources on Timely Issues 105, 319 n. 14 (Levi, Raphael N. trans., Philipp Feldheim, Inc. 1990)Google Scholar (citing the views of additional authorities).

128. There are, however, some general rules for determining whether the Talmud reached a consensus on a particular issue. See generally Chajes, Rabbi Zevi Hirsch, Kol Kitvei Maharitz: Darkei Hora'ah vol. 1 (Elizha Printing, Ltd. 1958) (Hebrew)Google Scholar; Bergman, supra n. 43, at 92-98.

129. See generally Rabinowitz, Abraham Hirsch, The Jewish Mind: A Study in its Halachic Expression (Hillel Press 1978)Google Scholar.

130. This particular aspect of Talmudic analysis is one of many reasons why neophytes are limited as to what they can accomplish. Those who lack experience and knowledge of the background literature are unaware of the various possible proofs or disproofs that are omitted.

131. See Feinstein, supra n. 68; Woolf, supra n. 116, at 41.

132. Woolf, supra n. 116, at 46, n. 3 (“According to the Vilna Gaon, the authority of consensus approximates that of an enactment of the Sanhedrin which was adopted by all of Israel (Bi'ur ha-Gra, Hoshen Mishpat 25:7 citing Avodah Zarah 36a).”).

133. Id. (“[A]s noted by Rambam (Introduction to the Mishneh Torah s.v. u-devarim halalu and cf. Hil. Mamrim 2:57)Google Scholar, in our time such absolute consensus is exceedingly rare and is, at most, only regionally valid.”).

134. Id. at 41-42.

135. Id.

136. See e.g. Kirschenbaum, Aaron, Mara De-Atra: A Brief Sketch, 27 Tradition 35 (Summer 1993)Google Scholar.

137. Angel, Marc D., A Study of the Halakhic Approaches of Two Modern Posekim, 23 Tradition 41, 41 (Spring 1988)Google Scholar.

138. R. Isserles's gloss to the Shulhan Arukh contains countless examples of cases in which lenient approaches are adopted to avoid a “great loss.” See e.g. Arukh, Shulhan, Yoreh Deah 23, 31, 3536 (Hebrew)Google Scholar.

139. See e.g. Resnicoff, Steven H., Jewish Perspectives on Assisted Suicide and Physician-Assisted Dying, 13 J.L. & Religion 289, 347348 (19981999)Google ScholarPubMed.

140. Id.

141. See generally Ben-Menahem, Hanina, Judicial Deviation in Talmudic Law: Governed by Men, Not by Rules (Harwood Academic Publishers 1991)Google Scholar. Of course, much of the flexibility is in the application of the law, not merely in the interpretation of the law.

142. See generally Spitz, Tzvi, Mishpatei ha-Torah vol. 3, 113115 (Institute for the Study and Dissemination of Civil Law and Domestic Law 1998/1999) (Hebrew)Google Scholar.

143. See Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 1, 71-72, 77-85.

144. See Resnicoff, Bankruptcy: A Viable Halachic Option?, supra n. 115, at 10-21; Elon, supra n. 16, at vol. 2, 932-933.

145. See Kaplan, supra n. 3, at 228.

146. See The Principles of Jewish Law cols. 251-252 (Elon, Menachem ed., Keter Publg. House Jerusalem LTD 1975)Google Scholar.

147. See Greenberg, Moshe, Oath, in Encyclopedia Judaica vol. 15, 358364 (Berenbaum, Michael & Skolnik, Fred eds., 2d ed., Macmillan Ref. 2007)Google Scholar.

148. Louis Rabinowitz, Vows and Vowing, in Berenbaum & Skolnik, supra n. 159, at vol. 20, 585-586.

149. See generally Sperber, supra n. 124, at 10.

150. See e.g. Turkei, supra n. 75, at 83-84 (citations omitted):

In modern times, no single organization is accepted as authoritative by all Torah observant Jews and, as a result, no group has the right to impose its views on individuals who do not voluntarily accept them. The late chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yizhak Halevi Herzog, claimed that the court of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel was, in fact, such a central organization and that all Jews in Israel are required to follow its rulings. He stressed that this was based on the authority of the institution itself and was independent of the specific person who occupied the position of the chief rabbi. However, his ruling was not accepted by those groups who did not recognize the halakhic validity of the Israeli government or any of its agencies. Similarly, Rabbi David Friedman of Karlin disputed the right of Rabbi Joshua Leib Diskin of Jerusalem to issue general bans on secular studies that affected other communities outside of his own. Hence, we conclude that a modern rabbi's authority is limited to his immediate community or to those people who ask his opinion. No rabbi has the right to impose his views on anyone else.

See also id. at 86-87 (citing responsum of Rabbi Moses Feinstein).

151. Sperber, supra n. 124, at 11-12.

152. For a description regarding Hallel, see Berenbaum & Skolnik, supra n. 157, at vol. 8, 279-280.

153. Lev 19:2.

154. Nahmanides lived from 1194 to 1256. For biographical information, see Goldwurm, supra n. 9, at 90. Nahmanides is also referred to as Ramban.

155. As Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik is reported to have said, “Halakha [i.e., Jewish law] is not a ceiling but a floor.” Wurzburger, supra n. 6, at 32.

156. T.B., Bava Metsia 30b.

157. Deut 28:9.

158. Gen 18:19.

159. Deut 6:18.

160. Wurzburger, supra n. 6, at 26-27 (translating Nahmanides, , Torah Commentary to Deuteronomy 6:18)Google Scholar.

161. Sometimes non-Torah rules, discussed in Part III, supra, provide guidance. But these too, are limited in number.

162. Interestingly, Wurzburger writes, “Far from being disappointed that the formal Halakhah is silent on so many questions, I am glad that Halakhah makes space for the input of individuality and subjectivity on religiously significant issues.” Wurzburger, supra n. 6, at 31.

163. Id. at 37.

164. Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Berlin argues that one of the reasons why the Torah contains narratives about the Patriarchs is to provide models for our ethical choices. See id. at 37.

165. Id.

166. Some of Slifkin's ideas, for instance, may be found in Challenge: Torah Views on Science and its Problems (Carmell, Aryeh & Domb, Cyril eds., Feldheim 1978)Google Scholar. See also Cohen, Aaron, The Parameters of Rabbinic Authority: A Study of Three Sources, 21 Tradition 100 (Summer 1993)Google Scholar.

167. See e.g. Aryeh Carmell, Book Review of The Science of Torah, (accessed Apr. 13, 2009); Letter of Approbation about The Camel, The Hare, and the Hyrax from Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, (accessed Apr. 13, 2009) (Hebrew); Letter of Approbation about The Camel, The Hare, and the Hyrax from Rav Chaim Malinowitz, (accessed Apr. 13, 2009).

168. See Slifkin's web site for links not only to Slifkin's version of the events but also to a number of other documents, and analyses, related thereto. The Torah/Science Controversy, (accessed Oct. 31, 2008); see generally Rothenberg, Jennie, The Heresy of Nosson Slifkin, 30 Moment Mag. 7 (10 2005)Google Scholar.

169. See The Torah/Science Controversy, supra n. 168. To my knowledge, Slifkin's factual account of the relevant events has not been publicly denied by the rabbis who were personally involved.

170. See e.g. Mindlin, Alex, Religion and Natural History Clash Among the Ultra-Orthodox, NY Times F3 (03 22, 2005) (available at Scholar.

171. See Rabbinical Council of America, Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design, (Dec. 27, 2005) (accessed Apr. 13, 2009).

172. For the text of the original ban, see Steven I. Weiss, Canonist: Blogging Religiously, The Original Making of a Godol Ban, (accessed July 13, 2008). For information regarding this controversy, see e.g. Berger, Joseph, Rabbis Who Were Sages, Not Saints, NY Times B7 (04 26, 2003) (available at 2003 WLNR 5166622)Google Scholar; Hirhurim Musings, Making of a Mountain Out of a Molehill, (accessed Apr. 2008). Of course, by referring to any particular internet blog, I do not endorse all of the many comments that appear on that blog. Indeed, many blogs constitute inappropriate, and sometimes scurrilous, abuses of a person's “freedom of speech.”

173. See generally Rosenblum, Yonason, Rav Yaakov: The Life and Times of HaGaon Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky (Mesorah Publications 1993)Google Scholar.

174. R. Kamenetsky delivered a public lecture entitled “The Making of a Ban” (“MOAB”) on Saturday night, March 12, 2005, at the Young Israel of Beth El in Boro Park, New York. The speech (“Kamenetsky Speech”) may be heard at (accessed May 22, 2009). I rely heavily upon this speech because I have not found any source that contradicts its statement of facts. Another related lecture, “Of Bans, Earthquakes and Tsunamis,” given by Kamenetsky at Yeshiva University, can be found at http://www.yutorah.Org/lectures/lecture.cfm/710353/Rabbi_Nathan_Kameiietsky/Of_Bans_Earthquakes_and_Tsunamis (accessed Apr. 13, 2009).

175. Kamenetsky discusses this in the foreword to his book, available online at Yashar Books' Open Access Project. Kamenetsky, Nathan, The Making of a Godol: A Study of Episodes in the Lives of Great Torah Personalities xxvii, (accessed Apr. 13, 2009)Google Scholar.

176. The text of both the first ban and the second ban can be found at, The Text of the Ban, (accessed Apr. 13, 2009).

177. See e.g. Maryles, Harry, Emes Ve-Emunah, 03 21, 2006, (accessed Apr. 13, 2009)Google Scholar.

178. For biographical information about the Vilna Gaon, see e.g. Wikipedia, Vilna Gaon, (accessed May 22, 2009).

179. See Dan Rabinowitz, The Seforim Blog, The Ban on the Book HaGaon, (accessed Apr. 13, 2009) (posting on the Tradition blog).

180. Little has appeared in the news regarding rabbinic efforts to help compensate those who suffered losses from cancellation of the concert. Of course, this does not mean that no such efforts were made.

181. For the Hebrew text of the ban, see (accessed Apr. 13, 2009) (Hebrew). Internet discussions of this ban abound. See e.g. Blog in Dm: Blogging Jewish Music from A to Zorn, Anatomy of a Ban-UPDATED, (accessed Apr. 13,2009).

182. Ironically, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky is the brother of Rabbi Noson Kamenetsky, author of the Making of a Gadol. I have used the spellings of their last names that appear in the various sources reporting these events. Given that such spellings are often transliterations of Hebrew names, it is not uncommon that siblings would use slightly different transliterations.

183. See Fertig, Mayer, Rabbonim and Producer Fail to Reach Agreement on ‘Big Event’ at MSG, Jewish Star (02 29, 2008) (available at Scholar.

184. See e.g. Brown, Binyomin, Doctrine of ‘Da'at Torah’: Three Levels (Hebrew), in Jerusalem Studies: In Jewish Thought vol. xix, at 537 (Yohayada Amir ed. 2005)Google Scholar; Carmy, Shalom, “The Heart Pained by the Pain of the People”: Rabbinic Leadership in Two Discussions by R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, 13 Torah u-Madda J. 1 (2005), (available at Scholar; Cohen, Rabbi Alfred, Daat Torah, 45 J. Halacha & Contemporary Socy. 67 (Spring 2003)Google Scholar; Cohen, Aaron, The Parameters of Rabbinic Authority: A Study of Three Sources, 27 Tradition 4 (1993)Google Scholar; Kaplan, Lawrence, Daas Torah: A Modern Conception of Rabbinic Authority, in Rabbinic Authority and Personal Autonomy 1 (Sokol, Moshe ed., Jason Aronson 1992)Google Scholar; Jacob Katz, Da'at Torah-The Unqualified Authority Claimed for Halachists, (accessed Apr. 28, 2009); Wein, R. Berel, Daas Torah: An Ancient Definition of Authority and Responsibility in Jewish Life, Jewish Observer 4 (10 1994)Google Scholar.