A Tree of Life

BookA Tree of Life

A Tree of Life

Diversity, Flexibility and Creativity in Jewish Law [Second Edition]

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


September 1st, 1982

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This study of the Jewish legal system (the Halakhah) demonstrates that the law embraces every corner of life.

Author Information

Louis Jacobs, founding rabbi of the New London Synagogue, was a renowned scholar with an international reputation as a lecturer. He was the author of The Jewish Religion: A Companion (1995) and of many other distinguished books, several of them published by the Littman Library, including Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1999), Hasidic Prayer (paperback 1993), and Theology in the Responsa (paperback 2005), as well as an edition and translation of Zevi Hirsch Eichenstein’s Turn Aside from Evil and Do Good (1995). He died in 2006.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
Title Page4
List of Abbreviations10
Introduction to the Second Edition12
A Tree of Life34
Introduction: Halakhah and Aggadah36
1 The Talmud, Source of the Halakhah47
2 The Spirit of Halakhah58
3 Exemptions and Extensions67
4 The Influence of Philosophy75
5 The Influence of Mysticism and Kabbalah92
6 Hasidism and Halakhah105
7 Responses to the Gentile World113
8 Halakhah and Sectarianism126
9 Halakhic Responses to Social Change: General Principles143
10 Halakhic Responses to Social Change: Further Examples154
11 New Inventions and Discoveries and the Halakhah185
12 Halakhah and Ethics201
13 Halakhah and Social Conduct (Derekh Erets)213
14 Halakhah and Psychology219
15 Halakhah and Minhag: The Customs of the People as Law239
16 Towards a Non-Fundamentalist Halakhah253
Appendix A: The Literary Form of the Halakhah265
Appendix B: The Problem of the Mamzer272
Note on Proper Names and Transliteration288
Note on Talmudic and Halakhic Sources291
Index of Biblical, Mishnaic, and Talmudic References316
General Index324