Book Review

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Law and Religion


Jewish law, Talmudic law, Talmud


This is a review of The Essence of Talmudic Law and Thought by Samuel N. Hoenig. The reviewer concludes that though this text is sometimes overly concise, it provides an excellent introduction to the essence of Talmudic thought. That Dr. Hoenig may overstate the importance of the Talmud as a factor in the ability of the Jewish people and Judaism to survive (ch. 11) does not detract from his book's contribution as a text that presents a comprehensive, understandable and readable introduction to one of the most complex and long-living sources of law ever created. When the person seeking to gain core knowledge of the letter and the spirit of Jewish law as set forth in the Talmud finishes this text, that person will understand why it is said that “one does not ‘read’ but ‘studies' the Talmud.” (xv) . . . . and that it “is easier to say what the Talmud is not than what it is.” (xvii) If that is the result, as this reviewer believes it will be, The Essence of Talmudic Law and Thought has met, and at times exceeded, its modest goals.



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