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Boundaries of Loyalty
Testimony against Fellow Jews in Non-Jewish Courts


  • Date Published: December 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107090651

£ 67.99

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About the Authors
  • Talmudic legislation prescribed penalty for a Jew to testify in a non-Jewish court, against a fellow Jew, to benefit a gentile - for breach of a duty of loyalty to a fellow Jew. Through close textual analysis, Saul Berman explores how Jewish jurists responded when this virtue of loyalty conflicted with values such as Justice, avoidance of desecration of God's Name, deterrence of crime, defence of self, protection of Jewish community, and the duty to adhere to Law of the Land. Essential for scholars and graduate students in Talmud, Jewish law and comparative law, this key volume details the nature of these loyalties as values within the Jewish legal system, and how the resolution of these conflicts was handled. Berman additionally explores why this issue has intensified in contemporary times and how the related area of 'Mesirah' has wrongfully come to be prominently associated with this law regulating testimony.

    • Clarifies the nature of some of the most fundamental social values of Jewish law enriching the understanding of the dynamic relationship between law, ethics and values
    • Explores a vital area of divergence between the Charedi and the modern branches of Orthodoxy
    • Presents a close analysis of almost 2000 years of Jewish legal literature
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a fascinating book about the history of a particular halachic (Jewish legal) concept; namely, the issue of a Jew providing testimony against a fellow Jew in a non-Jewish court. … The book is a masterpiece of legal analysis and a brilliant case study of tracing an interesting and relevant legal concept through nearly two thousand years of legal history. … The writing is clear and lucid, and even though it is structured in a manner similar to a legal treatise, this book can be understood by anyone interested in the subject matter at hand or someone with an even basic familiarity with Jewish law.' David Tesler, Association of Jewish Libraries

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107090651
    • length: 280 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. The use of non-Jewish courts: the Tannaitic period
    2. Legislative constraint on testimony: the Amoraic period
    3. Rejected rationales of testimonial restriction: the Gaonic period into the period of the Rishonim
    4. Creation of a duty to testify against fellow Jews in non-Jewish courts in the period of the Rishonim: i.e. under what circumstances could testimony in an honest non-Jewish court be required by Jewish law (and testimony then be permissible even in corrupt non-Jewish courts)?
    5. The tension between responsa and codification: not every good ruling makes a good rule Maharam Mintz, Rabbi Joseph Caro and Rabbi Moshe Isserlis
    6. Further expansion of the duty to testify against fellow Jews in non-Jewish courts in the period of the Acharonim: R. Yaacov Emden
    7. Contemporary attempts to revert to the original law of Rava: expanding the boundaries of loyalty
    8. Conclusion: reflections on loyalty and law

  • Author

    Saul J. Berman, Yeshiva University, New York
    Rabbi Saul J. Berman is Professor of Jewish studies at Stern College of Yeshiva University, New York and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University Law School where he is the Rotter Fellow of Talmudic Law. As an Orthodox Rabbi in Berkeley, California, Brookline, Massachusetts, and at Lincoln Square Synagogue, New York, Berman was an early participant in the Soviet Jewry and Civil Rights movements. His research and teaching is focused on women in Jewish law, Jewish social and medical ethics, and the connections between law and spirituality, on each of which he has published articles.

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