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What is “Halakhah”? The Fascinating History of an Essential Term

Hosted By: Drisha

This class studies the many meanings of the term Halakhah as they develop over time and considers what they say about the practice of Halakhah overall. Should we translate Halakhah as “law,” and if so is it the theoretical law or the practical law? What does it mean for something to be “Halakhah but we do not rule like it” (הלכה ואין מורין כן) or to be “Halakhah but not for enaction” (הלכה ולא למעשה)? How should we understand other uses of the term Halakhah, such as where it is used to introduce Midrashic teachings or to refer to a paragraph of a legal text? What significance is there to the more recent shift in which certain observant groups refer to themselves as “Halakhic Judaism”?


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Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Zuckier

Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Zuckier teaches in the Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program and the Drisha Summer Kollel, as well as other Drisha Programs. A postdoctoral fellow in Jewish Studies at McGill University, he received his PhD in Ancient Judaism at Yale University and was a member of Yeshiva University’s Kollel Elyon. Previously he served as Director of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at Yale University. Shlomo is an alumnus of Yeshivat Har Etzion and RIETS, as well as of the Wexner and Tikvah Fellowships. He has lectured and taught widely across North America, as well as at Yale Divinity School, Yeshiva University, the Tikvah Fund, and Bnot Sinai. A Founder of The Lehrhaus, Shlomo serves on the Editorial Committee of Tradition and has edited two books on contemporary Jewish thought.
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