October 27, 1993 | Avraham Melamed
Aristotle's Politics was almost unknown in medieval Jewish philosophy, which in its political thought was mainly based upon Plato's Republic as transmitted by the Muslim commentators. This is why Abravanel's apparent usage of the Politics in his antimonarchist interpretation of I Samuel, 8 seems to be such a breakthrough in medieval Jewish political philosophy. Such a breakthrough seems conceivable when we take into consideration the influence exerted on Abravanel by scholastic political philosophy, which was heavily influenced by the Politics ever since the text was translated into Latin in the thirteenth century.
April 2, 1990
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.