Sifra and Sifre

Legal midrash on Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

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The Why of Jewish Law

When we talk about Jewish legal texts, we generally refer to the Mishnah, the medieval law codes, and other works that present laws with little discussion or explanation. These texts offer us the "what" of the law without giving many hints about the "why." In contrast, Sifra, Sifre Bamidbar, Sifre Devarim, and other texts of midrash halakhah offer a glimpse of the thought process of the rabbis as they struggle to create or explain laws based on the biblical text.

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Rabbi Jill Jacobs

Rabbi Jill Jacobs is the Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America. She previously served as the Rabbi-in-Residence for the Jewish Funds for Justice.