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The Myth of the Cultural JewCulture and Law in Jewish Tradition$
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Roberta Rosenthal Kwall

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780195373707

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373707.001.0001

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The Myth of the Cultural Jew

(p.xiii) Introduction
The Myth of the Cultural Jew

Roberta Rosenthal Kwall

Oxford University Press

The introductory section lays the groundwork for the argument that cultural Judaism is a myth. It argues that Jewish law, known as halakhah, is similar to all law in that it is best understood in cultural terms through a paradigm known as cultural analysis. This paradigm rejects the view that law is objectively neutral and coherent and thus lacking a relationship to its surrounding cultural environment. This interrelationship between law and culture is clearly evidenced in the formation and application of the Jewish tradition, known as the mesorah, which includes both legal precepts and cultural elements. This section introduces the cultural analysis paradigm developed throughout the book and details the advantages of situating the mesorah within a cultural analysis framework. It also provides an overview of the book’s chapters.

Keywords:   Jewish law, Jewish culture, cultural analysis, halakhah, mesorah, cultural Judaism

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