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"One Need Not Scruple": Law As Intrusion

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores cautious perspectives toward observance of the law. It examines a set of interrelated constructions from the Mishnah and the Tosefta that incorporate or mirror the above usage of דרך . These constructions consistently counsel against scrupulous or cautious behavior at the boundaries of permissible behavior. The chapter also examines some of the policy and jurisprudential concerns that appear to motivate tannaitic suspicion of the cautionary impulse. The distribution of the rhetorical constructions of interest in the chapter between the Mishnah and the Tosefta is too striking to ignore, and our analysis will attend closely to it. The chapter contextualizes halakhic caution through an examination, first, of the contrary impulse, toward pushing the boundary of the permissible, and, second, of the jurisprudential considerations at stake, for the tannaitic corpus, in the attempt to limit cautious action.

Keywords: halakhic caution; law; Mishnah; tannaitic suspicion; Tosefta



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