After reading Professor Chaim Saiman’s book, Halakhah: The Rabbinic Idea of Law, I have a desire to learn more about halakhah. I have a sense of the questions I want to ask, and the issues I want to pursue, given my own commitments and training, which are both similar to and yet very different from his. Like Professor Saiman, I am a secular lawyer. I am also a Christian theological ethicist. As I worked through the book, I came to see that halakhah has significant overlap not only with canon law, which aims to regulate behavior in the community of the Catholic Church, but also with moral theology, which asks basic questions about human action, character, and community, and even with systematic theology, which asks fundamental questions about the nature of humanity’s relationship with God. As Professor Saiman’s book makes manifest, the study of Torah is the study of the entire world. Consequently, bringing his book into conversation with Christian thought—my task in these brief comments—is a considerable challenge.
Because Professor Saiman is such a good teacher, I began to ponder how I would construct a co-taught graduate seminar in “Comparative Theology and Law,” bringing Christian and Jewish sources into conversation, and structured around the issues raised by Professor Saiman’s book. In these remarks, I will point to three questions I would like the opportunity to pursue more fully in such a seminar.
Cathleen Kaveny. ""Turn It, Turn It, for All is In It": Reflections on Chaim Saiman's Halakhah: The Rabbinic Idea of Law." Villanova Law Review 64, no.5 (2020): 701-708.