An Analysis of the Protective Duties and Rights of Vulnerable Populations In the Jewish Legal Code
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This paper will examine the treatment of vulnerable populations in Judaism within the Jewish legal code. Initially, the text of the Hebrew Bible (referred to as the “Torah” for the duration of the paper) will help establish the perspective of Jewish law towards these populations. The legal passages found in the Torah will help highlight patterns in the text regarding the legal rights and duties surrounding the vulnerable populations. The populations examined include the stranger/convert (ger), the orphan (yatom), the widow (almana) and women (nashim). The Jewish legal code identifies legal rights, privileges, and duties that are granted to or removed from these groups for different reasons. The analysis is based on the appendix created through examining and codifying the legal passages surrounding each of the vulnerable populations. Ultimately, the analysis of the text will attempt to prove the claim that the laws outlined in the Biblical text were established with the best interests of the vulnerable populations in mind, with the intent to provide rights and protection for these populations. Proving this claim can impact the understanding of the modern day approach in Jewish law in towards these vulnerable populations. The modern day perspective of the Jewish legal code at times appears to give some populations a higher status than others by depriving certain populations of rights, duties or privileges. However, understanding the intent behind the establishment of the laws in relation to these populations provides a deeper understanding of the Jewish Legal code and its attitude towards these vulnerable populations.
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