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Jewish Philosophy in an Analytic Age$
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Samuel Lebens, Dani Rabinowitz, and Aaron Segal

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198811374

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198811374.001.0001

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Neither Authoritarian nor Superfluous

Neither Authoritarian nor Superfluous

A Normative Account of Rabbinic Authority

Chapter:
(p.276) 15 Neither Authoritarian nor Superfluous
Source:
Jewish Philosophy in an Analytic Age
Author(s):

Yonatan Y. Brafman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198811374.003.0015

This study addresses the project of grounding the legitimacy of halakhic-legal authorities, like rabbis or rabbinic courts. Importantly, this inquiry is distinct from, but related to, investigation into the justification of halakhic norms. I begin by exploring the work of Eliezer Berkovits. I argue that he offers a robust teleological justification of halakhic norms by showing how they are aimed at a moral purpose and how this purpose guides halakhic-legal practice. On this account, the directives of halakhic-legal authorities do not possess any independent normativity, for they only direct individuals to perform actions that they already have reason to do anyway, specifically the reasons that Berkovits indicates in his justification of halakhic norms. I offer a new model for grounding the legitimacy of halakhic-legal authorities that links it to the justification of halakhic norms without reducing it to that effort.

Keywords:   rabbinic authority, Eliezer Berkovits, Joseph Raz, halakhic normativity

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