This course will trace the development of Halakha beginning with the first legal code of the oral law, the Mishnah. We will explore many aspects of the Mishnah including its structure, composition, inclusion of controversy, sources, relationship to the Bible, transmission, interpretation and the way it encodes spiritual and philosophical meaning within the details of ritual prescriptions.
The second half of the semester will delve into various examples of legal issues and follow their development from the Torah and Mishnah, through the Talmud and Rishonim, ending with the pesak of Mishneh Torah, Shulhan Arukh, and modern applications. We will also analyze the pesakim and approaches of two of the modern period's greatest poskim, Rabbi Meir Hai Uziel and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. Throughout this study, we will continually return to fundamental issues of sources, interpretation, and methodology.