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Jewish Law and Matters of State: Theory, Policy, and Practice

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In recent years Jewish religious leaders have often expressed religious opinions in matters concerning the foreign and security policy of the State of Israel. The present article focuses on the internal religious legitimacy of halakhic rulings in these matters and reveals the prerequisites that decisors must satisfy before voicing a binding halakhic opinion on issues concerning the Israeli Arab conflict, peace agreements, Jewish settlements in Judah and Samaria, etc. The article is divided into three parts that answer the following questions: (a) are matters of State policy subject to halakhic norms or are they situated outside the realm of Halakha? (b) does Halakha have a judicial policy seeking to rule on these issues? (c) what are the practical difficulties that decisors face if they wish to rule on them? The article points out the diversity of internal halakhic opinions on the questions under investigation, and outlines an analytical method for a halakhic discussion aimed at answering them.

Affiliations: 1: Law Faculty, Bar-Ilan University, Vice President, The Israel Democracy Institute, E-mail:


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