Originally published in the Journal of Jewish Studies 31:2 (1980), p. 270.
Bernard S. Jackson (ed.), The Jewish Law Annual, Volume II, Brill, Leiden, 1979. ix, 270 pp. Fl. 84.
The second volume of The Jewish Law Annual has the same format as the first: Part I, a symposium on ‘Codification and Restatement’, and Part II, a Chronicle, Notes and a Survey of Recent Literature. The indefatigable editor has already planned Volume III, with the symposium on ‘Unjust Enrichment’, and Volume IV, with the symposium on ‘The Wife’s Right to Divorce’, and he informs us that symposia are contemplated for future volumes on the topics: ‘Labour Law’; ‘Medico-Legal Problems’; ‘Law Reform’; ‘Competition Law’ and ‘The Philosophy of Jewish Law’.
The opening essay on ‘Codification of Jewish Law’ by M. Chigier explains in unsophisticated terms the extremely complex events leading up to the redaction of the Babylonian Talmud. However, the article redeems itself, to some extent, by its final section on the codification of Jewish law today, where the novel contention is made that the idea of Torah study as the supreme religious duty has always frustrated attempts at codification since, by nature, the student is ever moved by the need for further investigation so that he must refuse to accept the finality provided by a Code.
It is not possible to survey all the articles in this volume, but I found the following of especial interest. Samuel N. Hoenig’s ‘Halakhot Gedolot’ uses the methods of literary analysis for the study of this ancient Code. S. M. Passamaneck provides a most helpful list of the Responsa used by the Shulhan ‘Arukh. J. David Bleich writes learnedly on the status of the deaf-mute in Jewish law and on recent discussions of the ancient rule that the Jewish status of the child is determined by that of its mother.
Leo Baeck College, London