Scholar on Jewish Law emphasizes importance of social safety net
Professor Michael Broyde to Discuss Jewish Legal System as Foundation for Modern Law
Jewish law has provided a strong foundation for the modern Western legal system, says Professor Michael J. Broyde of Emory University.
Professor Broyde, who is giving a lecture at Congregation Mount Sinai on Monday, May 23, gave a scoop preview this week to the Brooklyn Eagle on the close bond between law, faith and morality, and on the Jewish rabbinic legal tradition’s influence on modern law. What follows are some excerpts from this interview.
“From the perspective of the Jewish tradition, a central feature of religion is its close connection to law. I understand fully well that not every faith agrees with that. Some faiths perceive religion and law to be like peanut butter and steak — opposites; each is good, but not to be done together,” Broyde pointed out. “The Jewish tradition thinks that a central characteristic of being a good person is determining what the law is, and being obedient to it.”
Among Broyde’s key points: The Jewish legal tradition, halakhah, closely connects morality, good behavior and religion; Judaism set forth the modern system of law and established parameters on behavior; justice is tied to a fully functioning ethical society; and Jewish tradition lays out principles that are “timeless and timely” — valid even if contemporary examples and applications didn’t exist or if ancient ones are obsolete. For example, the Internet didn’t yet exist in ancient times, but many principles of the Jewish tradition on privacy and reading of other people’s mail still apply here.