Halakhah: Jewish Law

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Historically, in Jewish law, a majority view prevailed. While the majority opinion usually became the accepted practice, in certain circumstances later rabbis could rely on a minority view in deciding a difficult matter. By the high Middle Ages, most Jewish communities each recognized one rabbi as the arbiter of Jewish law in that community.

Modernity and Halakhah

This system collapsed with the onset of modernity in the 18th century, particularly in western Europe. Rabbis emerged who wanted to "reform" Judaism. They rejected both some of the teachings and the authority of earlier rabbis in many matters of halakhah.

Today, spiritual descendants of both traditionalists and reformers interpret Jewish law according to their respective principles for their communities. Many Jews reject the notion of Jewish law as binding, regarding halakhah as spiritual guidance for Jewish living. The approach to halakhah is the central factor differentiating Jewish religious movements today. Secular Israeli jurisprudence treats halakhah as a valid and valued source of precedent.

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