“The Foundation of the Creation” and the “Laws Written on the Heavenly Tablets”

Aharon Shemesh

in Halakhah in the Making

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780520259102
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945036 | DOI:
“The Foundation of the Creation” and the “Laws Written on the Heavenly Tablets”

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Defining the basic characteristics of the halakhah in the scrolls and related literature makes it easier to sketch some of the processes of change that took place. It also makes it easier to see the changes themselves that occurred between the halakhah of the Second Temple period and those of the post-70 Tannaitic era. “Realism” is a dominant characteristic of priestly halakhah. Assuming realistic perception as the background of the halakhah at Qumran is a highly productive postulation. The Qumranic authors declared it explicitly by using the term “the foundation of the Creation.” Many rabbinic halakhot exhibit similar realistic perceptions. Nevertheless, over the course of time, rabbinic literature developed a growing tendency toward a nominalistic perception of the law. Evolution from a realistic view of the law toward a nominalistic approach is a normal and predictable development in any legal system, from its relatively early, primitive stages, which depict the law as a reflection of reality, to an approach that dissociates the law from nature and assigns it an independent existence.

Keywords: Realism; rabbinic literature; halakhah; rabbinic halakhot

Chapter.  6667 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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