Mishpat Ivri, Halakhah and Legal Philosophy: Agunah and the Theory of “Legal Sources"

JSiJ (2001)
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Abstract
In this paper, I ask whether mishpat ivri (Jewish Law) is appropriately conceived as a “legal system”. I review Menachem Elon’s use of a “Sources” Theory of Law (based on Salmond) in his account of Mishpat Ivri; the status of religious law from the viewpoint of jurisprudence itself (Bentham, Austin and Kelsen); then the use of sources (and the approach to “dogmatic error”) by halakhic authorities in discussing the problems of the agunah (“chained wife”), which I suggest points to a theory more radical than the “sources” theory of law, one more akin to the ultimate phase of the thought of Kelsen (the “non-logical” Kelsen) or indeed to some form of Legal Realism (with which that phase of Kelsen’s thought has indeed been compared)? I finally juxtapose an account based on internal theological resources (a “Jurisprudence of Revelation”). Downloadable at at http://www.biu.ac.il/JS/JSIJ/jsij1.html.
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