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The Halakhic Process: Studies in Jewish Biomedical Law


Admission requirements

Students must have a BA degree or nearly completed a BA degree and have acquired some basic information about Judaism (e.g. by means of an Introduction to Judaism course)


Judaism maintains its own legal system known as halakha. During this course the student will become acquainted with major works of halakha and the process of decision making which they entail, including legal as well as extralegal factors by way of Jewish biomedical law and ethics. This will include the confrontation of halakha with modernity and the various responses to this confrontation.

Course objectives

  • The student will be introduced to major works of Jewish legal jurisprudence.

  • The student will become acquainted with the halakhic process including both the open ended and non-open ended approach of these works.

  • The student will understand the problems raised by modernity in general and more specifically by biomedical issues for Jewish law making.



Mode of instruction

Lectures, text readings and student presentations

Assessment method

Please specify assessment method (exam, essay etc.)
A 10 page paper analyzing a case study in Jewish law.


Course enrollment and weekly planning will be made available in Blackboard.

Reading list

  • D. Sinclair, Jewish Biomedical Law. Legal and Extralegal Dimensions, Oxford University Press 2003.

  • E. Dorff en L Newman (eds), Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality. A Reader, Oxford University Press 1995.

Capita selecta from:

  • L. Jacobs, The Talmudic Argument. A Study in Talmudic Reasoning and Methodology, Cambridge University Press 1984.
    L. Jacobs, A Tree of Life. Diversity, Flexibility and Creativity in Jewish Law, Oxford University Press 1984.

  • M. Elon, Jewish Law. History, Sources, Principles (4 vol.), 3rd rev. ed., Jewish Publication Society 1994.

  • J. Roth, The Halakhic Process. A Systematic Analysis, Jewish Theological Seminary 1986.

  • M. Zemer, Evolving Halakhah. A Progressive Approach to Traditional Jewish Law, Jewish Lights 1998.

These titles will be made available on the reserve shelf in the theological reading room of the main university library.


Via uSis.
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Prof. dr. J.Frishman


This course will be of interest for students of Jewish studies, Religious studies, (Dutch) law, Islamic studies, Islamic law and Medicine.