Originally published in The Jewish Chronicle, 11 December 1981.
Law and Religion. By Zeev W. Falk. Mesharim Publishers, Jerusalem. $10.
Jewish law, like any other legal system, can be approached as if it operates entirely under its own categories, without any recourse being had to extra-legal values. Such an approach is stultifying, not only because it then becomes extremely difficult to cope with new situations for which there is little or no precedence in the classical sources but also because without an adequate appreciation of the philosophical basis, of the principles the law is intended to serve, the law itself is not fully understood. Professor Falk is renowned for his efforts in this direction, of trying to go beyond the intricacies of the law to discover the ideas which have given it life and which can continue so to do if its followers have the requisite degree of courage.
In this small but original and highly stimulating book he continues the quest. The book consisting of lectures delivered at New York University School of Law, is, of course, a work of objective scholarship. It is, in addition, an appeal to students of Jewish law to engage in the wider task of showing what Judaism has to offer to the world in terms of law and here, he rightly sees, the State of Israel has a significant contribution to make.
This is a most valuable book published in Israel, where of course Jewish law enters very much into everyday life.