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Before the Law

Dershowitz, Stone.

The holiday of Shavuot, which falls this year on June 8 and 9, commemorates the giving of the Law. In video interviews conducted by the Israeli media agency Leadel, the prominent legal scholars Suzanne Last Stone and Alan M. Dershowitz explain the differences between Jewish law and Western law, and how their own interest in the former has informed their careers in the latter. —The Editors

Suzanne Last Stone

"Jewish law is structured around the concept of obligations—as opposed to the concept of rights."  

Alan M. Dershowitz 

"The guilty must be defended along with the innocent. I learn that from the story of Sodom, and the story of Joseph being falsely accused."  

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Irvin Mermelstein on June 9, 2011 at 2:02 pm (Reply)
The use of the phrase "the Law" when referring to Torah is a New Testament device intended (I think) to imply sterility and emptiness. It is the source for example of the canard that Judaism is a "legalistic" religion as opposed to Christianity, based in the Christian idea of 'faith.'

JID should not, in my opinion, propogate this particular piece of "traditional anti-Judaism." Torah is Torah. Please call it that.
Kenneth Mathews on June 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm (Reply)
Mr. Mermelstien,

The use of the phrase "the Law" when referring to Torah is not a New Testament device intended ... to imply sterility and emptiness. The Torah being referred to as "law" in western world generally finds its root in the translation of the Tanach into Greek. The translators both Jew and Gentile but originally Jew used the greek word nomos ("Law" or "Custom") for Torah. You are correct about the misguided historical suspicion and animosity towards the Torah(/Law) but there is nothing wrong in and of itself with referring to the Torah as The Law if one avoids the historical bias and misunderstanding of most of Christianity and remembers:

2:1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

2:2 And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the Lord'S house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

2:3 And many peoples shall go and say: 'Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

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