Publications by Gerald Blidstein
This article describes how halakhah functions as the normative component of Jewish life. It presents the modalities ? intellectual as well as social ? through which halakhah
operates as well as sketching its general approach to the different topics it regulates. The method is phenomenological, though changes in historical reality are integrated into the
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The graphic description of God holding Mt. Sinai over the Israelites’ heads, threatening to bury them under it unless they accepted His Torah, is familiar to many. Whatever the existential import of this tale, its literal sense is that the Jewish people were coerced into receiving the Torah. This essay analyzes other traditions about the Sinai covenant and indicates that these, in contrast, assert the consensual nature of the receiving of the Torah.
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This essay considers the degree to which Jewish political and legal theory allows? and, indeed, mandates ? the recognition that the Torah legislates an ideal law which is not
appropriate for situations of social and political stress, and the degree to which such situations are really the historical norm rather than the exception. The Talmud, it is shown, adumbrates this concept, but in a fairly marginal form. Maimonides places it at center stage of societal governance, apparently expecting that a Jewish society will
of necessity be thrown back upon this option; but he also suggests guidelines for its regulation.
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