oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - Legge e limite nell'ebraismo

Special issue 2
  • ISSN : 1021-545X
  • E-ISSN: 2411-7870



It may be questioned whether in Hebrew law there is any "Grundnorm" or fundamental statement that overrides other laws. It is well known that, in Hebrew law, commandments come only from God, and that men and human institutions cannot create law, but can only comprehend and interpret divine will. If divine commandments are expressed only in the biblical (i.e. the legal part of the Torah, consisting of the 613 ), it is matter of debate whether there are any rules in the that are more important than others, capable of limiting the application of other . Such a question has, for example, been asked about the Decalogue, but it has been denied emphatically that the Ten Commandments () are above other laws. However, it is also true that only with regard to some commandments (ie, the prohibition of idolatry, blasphemy, incest and adultery) and in order to avoid transgression a Jew is obliged to sacrifice his own life. Another question is whether the limits the interpretation of the narrative part of the Torah, namely the so-called . Freedom of human interpretation must be maintained, and the Torah must be considered as a whole, in which no part limits another. If there is no limit to the law, can there be a limit to human interpretation? On the one hand, it is free, but on the other this freedom cannot extend to a violation of the meaning of the law. Who may decide the limits of human interpretation? May a consolidated rabbinical tradition be considered as a limit? And do Mishnah and Talmud restrict the interpretation of the Torah? These are questions to which there is more than one answer.

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