FALL SEMESTER Rabbinics 40: Introduction to Codes Prof. Michael Chernick Course Goals The course introduces the students to the literature of decided Jewish law (halakhah pesuqah). In pursuit of this goal we trace the development of a single issue, conversion, through four major Codes: Halakhot Gedolot, Mishneh Torah, Tur, and Shulhan `Arukh. In addition the course begins the intensive study of halakhah and familiarizes the student with the language, semantics, cultural and historical background and influence of Jewish law on Jewish civilization and religious life. The course is preparatory to Talmud insofar as the rubrics, thought patterns, and language skills learned in Codes are useful in Talmud study. Course Requirements 1. Participation in text reading and analysis and class discussion as an indication of having prepared the readings in codes or other required readings. (40%) 2. Precises of all required readings. Precises must be handed in during the week assigned. No precis will be accepted beyond its due date. Failure to hand in a precis means work for the course in incomplete. This is equivalent to a course failure.(20%) 3. Final paper tracing an issues through the classical Codes. (40%) Helpful Tools for the Study of Codes Menachem Elon, Jewish Law: History, Sources, Principles, 4.vols. Marcus Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Bavli, etc. Adin Steinsaltz, The Steinsaltz Talmud--The Reference Guide (sections on Talmudic Terminology and Halakhic Concepts). H. Strack and G. Stemberger, Introduction to Midrash and Talmud. Course Outline I. Halakhah A. Its religious meaning B. Its social and cultural function and influence C. As a political force II. Formative and "Normative" Halakhah A. The Mishnah and Talmud as examples of formative halakhah B. Codes as attempts to establish "normative" halakhah III. Characteristics of Codes A. Simplifies arguments and language B. Lack of rationalization C. Establishes single norm D. Books of Halakhot and Books of Pesakim IV. Readings in Codes and related materials A. Halakhot Gedolot, Hilkhot Milat Gerim (Hildesheimer) Related required reading: EJ, "Codification of the Law," section on gaonic codes; Louis Ginzberg, Geonica, vol. 1, pp. 72-119. B. Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Issurei Bi'ah, 13-14 (only those sections related to conversion) Related required reading: EJ, "Codification of the Law," section on Mishneh Torah; EJ articles or articles in Enziklopedia le-Gedolei Yisrael on Maimonides, R. Joseph Halevi Ibn Migash, and R. Isaac Alfasi; Abraham Halkin and David Hartman, Crisis and Leadership, ch. 1. C. Shulhan `Arukh, Yoreh De`ah, Hilkhot Gerim, ch. 268 Related required reading: EJ, "Codification of the Law," section on Shulhan `Arukh; EJ articles or articles in Enziklopedia le-Gedolei Yisrael on R. Joseph Karo (Caro) and R. Moses Isserles; R. J. Zvi Werblowsky, Joseph Karo: Lawyer and Mystic. D. Tur, Yoreh Deah, Hilkhot Talmud Torah, ch. 246 Related required reading: EJ, "Codification of the Law," section on Tur; EJ articles or articles in Enziklopedia le-Gedolei Yisrael on the Tosafists, R. Asher, R. Ya`akov or Jacob b. Asher, R. Meir of Rothenburg (or Rothenberg).