Talmudic legislation prescribed penalty for a Jew to testify in a non-Jewish court, against a fellow Jew, to benefit a gentile - for breach of a duty of loyalty to a fellow Jew. Through close textual analysis, Saul Berman explores how Jewish jurists responded when this virtue of loyalty conflicted with values such as Justice, avoidance of desecration of God's Name, deterrence of crime, defence of self, protection of Jewish community, and the duty to adhere to Law of the Land. Essential for scholars and graduate students in Talmud, Jewish law and comparative law, this key volume details the nature of these loyalties as values within the Jewish legal system, and how the resolution of these conflicts was handled. Berman additionally explores why this issue has intensified in contemporary times and how the related area of 'Mesirah' has wrongfully come to be prominently associated with this law regulating testimony.
Rabbi Saul J. Berman is Professor of Jewish studies at Stern College of Yeshiva University, New York and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University Law School where he is the Rotter Fellow of Talmudic Law. As an Orthodox Rabbi in Berkeley, California, Brookline, Massachusetts, and at Lincoln Square Synagogue, New York, Berman was an early participant in the Soviet Jewry and Civil Rights movements. His research and teaching is focused on women in Jewish law, Jewish social and medical ethics, and the connections between law and spirituality, on each of which he has published articles.
Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. The use of non-Jewish courts: the Tannaitic period; 2. Legislative constraint on testimony: the Amoraic period; 3. Rejected rationales of testimonial restriction: the Gaonic period into the period of the Rishonim; 4. Creation of a duty to testify against fellow Jews in non-Jewish courts in the period of the Rishonim: i.e. under what circumstances could testimony in an honest non-Jewish court be required by Jewish law (and testimony then be permissible even in corrupt non-Jewish courts)?; 5. The tension between responsa and codification: not every good ruling makes a good rule Maharam Mintz, Rabbi Joseph Caro and Rabbi Moshe Isserlis; 6. Further expansion of the duty to testify against fellow Jews in non-Jewish courts in the period of the Acharonim: R. Yaacov Emden; 7. Contemporary attempts to revert to the original law of Rava: expanding the boundaries of loyalty; 8. Conclusion: reflections on loyalty and law; Bibliography; Index.