The Role of the Community in Establishing Jewish Law.
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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.
Fried, Rachel. The Role of the Community in Establishing Jewish Law Presented to the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for Completion of the Program Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University May 7, 2019.
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