The Principles of Jewish Law
Edited by Menachem Elon
Transaction Publishers (2007), 866 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - February 9, 2010
It is welcome pleasure when an important subject is dealt with by a top expert and the work is translated by people who are similarly expert. Jewish law, its history, sources and principles, has been the subject of many books by many rabbis and scholars. However, most of the works by the traditional Jewish scholars - including the seminal work by Sherirah Gaon and the intellectual masterpiece by Maimonides – present a theology or philosophy whose goal is to promote and explain Judaism as conceived by the writer, and not a true history. Many stressed the importance of the Bible and revelation and the significance of the Oral Law which is not in the Torah, rather than an objective scientific history. Menachem Elon, an ordained rabbi, served on the Supreme Court of Israel since 1977 and was its Deputy President since 1988. This book won the Israel Prize in 1979. The two translators are distinguished American lawyers. Bernard Auerbach was a professor of law at the University of Maryland and a rabbi. Melvin J. Sykes is one of the most sought-after attorneys to handle appeals before Maryland's top court.