Law 165 - Introduction to Jewish Legal Reasoning

Jonathan M. Zasloff

Jonathan M. Zasloff

Professor of Law
B.A. Yale, 1987
J.D. Yale, 1993
M.Phil. International Relations, Cambridge, 1988
M.A. History, Harvard, 1990
Ph.D. Harvard, 2000
UCLA Law faculty since 1998
Course Description:

Over the course of two millennia, the Jewish people developed a complex and intricate legal tradition that concerned both traditional religious matters but also standard civil law issues such as property, contract, and criminal law. Some of the critical questions that the makers of this tradition confronted, and we will consider are: 1) on what basis does legal authority stand?; 2) to what extent should changing historical circumstances alter our view of the law; and 3) what should judges do when plain and precise legal text would yield an absurd result? This Modes of Inquiry will consider some of the most salient examples of Jewish legal controversy, as well as the surprisingly burgeoning scholarly literature on whether and in what ways can understanding this tradition makes us better lawyers, advocates, citizens, and even human beings.