Ultimately, Jewish tradition gives the community an important role in shaping Jewish
law. Through close analysis of the laws pertaining to the milk, bread, and oil of an idolater,
insight can be gleaned as to the full breadth of the community’s role in this capacity—both
their powers and their limitations. Communal stringencies, whether additions to rabbinic law
or independent customs, have the potential to become binding on future generations, perhaps
even on a biblical level. Simultaneously, halakhah looks to protect the community from
overly burdensome laws by mandating that rabbis only enact decrees that the majority of
Jews can uphold. When laws are unsuccessful at spreading throughout the community,
procedure is set for annulling those laws. All of this is done with recognition of the
importance of rabbinic leadership and the necessity to protect the authoritative status of
rabbis. Thus, the community and the rabbis have a dynamic, interdependent partnership in
the forging of rabbinic law.
The file is restricted for YU community access only.