Choshen Mishpat, Gift of the Jews

October 13, 2008

EnglishThis essay explores the moral importance of the conflict between Halakhah and temporal civil law. It was presented as a sermon to the Book Shemot, on the 28th of Tevet 5766 (28th of January ’06).

True Freedom of Conscience -by Rabbi Arie Folger

Halakhah is frequently at odds – in monetary matters – with applied Western law, such as, for example regarding the permissibility of charging interest on loans, the permissibility of charging certain fines, the validity of speculative contracts, the definition of unfair competition and more. However, the respective national constitutions are clear, the judicial power belongs to the civil courts and they need to take the instructions of the legislative branch into account. Many of us feel uneasy about the disagreement Halakhah has with the national secular legislative reality, and as a result, the Halakhah is either forgotten, or willfully ignored.

The tension between Halakhah and Western law evokes in us memories of accusations of double standards and disloyalty to our respective countries of citizenship or residence. Hence, many choose ignorance over knowledge, breech over observance. The major question is then: have we served the greater good of general society by adopting the single yardstick of law and ethics which our host society provides us with? Read the rest of this entry »


Financial Regulators Seek Out Choshen Mishpat

October 13, 2008

EnglishThis is just in from Time Magazine. There seems to be a growing interest in Jewish Civil Law (Choshen Mishpat) among economists, politicians and financial regulators, as is evidenced by this Time Magazine article, “The Financial Crisis: What Would the Talmud Do?” by David Van Biema.

I previously explored the conflict between Halakhah and secular civil law, as well as its moral importance, in the following essay:

  • True Freedom of Conscience English
  • Wahre Gewissenfreiheit Deutsch

  • Ist Jom Kippúr festlicher als Rosch haSchaná?

    September 18, 2008

    DeutschRosch haSchaná gilt als richtiger Jomtów, ein Festtag, an dem man besondere Speisen isst und mit Familie und Freunden an dem Festtisch sitzt. Hingegen gilt Jom Kippúr als geistiger Tag, des Sündenbekennens, des Bereuens. Ist es aber vielleicht genau umgekehrt? Ist der Fasttag vielleicht doch festlicher als der Neujahrstag? Die festlichkeit Rosch haSchanás wird in der folgende Predigt, die meinem Buch “Ein lärmendes, reissendes Wildwasser” seinen Namen verleiht, erforscht. Read the rest of this entry »