Jewish Law and American Law: A Comparative Study, Volumes 1 & 2

Jewish Law and American Law: A Comparative Study, Volumes 1 & 2


Samuel J. Levine

Series: Touro University Press
ISBN: 9781618116550 (Vol. 1) / 9781618116574 (Vol. 2)
Pages: 384 pp. (Vol. 1) / 238 pp. (Vol. 2)
Publication Date: August 2018

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These volumes contribute to the growing field of comparative Jewish and American law, presenting twenty-six essays characterized by a number of distinct features. The essays will appeal to legal scholars and, at the same time, will be accessible and of interest to a more general audience of intellectually curious readers. These contributions are faithful to Jewish law on its own terms, while applying comparative methods to offer fresh perspectives on complex issues in the Jewish legal system. Through careful comparative analysis, the essays also turn to Jewish law to provide insights into substantive and conceptual areas of the American legal system, particularly areas of American law that are complex, controversial, and unsettled.

Samuel J. Levine is Professor of Law and Director of the Jewish Law Institute at Touro Law Center. He has also served as the Beznos Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University College of Law, and he has taught at the law schools at Bar-Ilan, Fordham, Pepperdine, and St. John’s Universities.


Levine has distinguished himself as one of the foremost scholars and teachers of Jewish law in the American legal academy. Perhaps most importantly, Levine has taken on the role of gatherer and keeper of all things Jewish law within the American law school universe. … Jewish Law and American Law is perhaps best viewed in this context, as a work that helpfully gathers some of the most important and useful studies of comparative Jewish and American law in one place, and provides a valuable resource for those interested and working in the field.
— Shlomo C. Pill, Emory University School of Law, Journal of Law and Religion
Samuel Levine’s two-volume book, Jewish Law and American Law: A Comparative Study, makes an important contribution to comparative law studies of criminal and constitutional law (volume 1), and analyses of law and narrative, legal history and law and public policy (volume 2). Lawyers, law students, and scholars of the legal profession are likely to be particularly interested in Section Five of volume 1, consisting of five chapters comparing the Jewish and U.S. legal systems. In a concise and enlightening fashion, Professor Levine explores numerous legal profession topics, offering contextual insights and raising ideas for future analysis.
— Eli Wald, JOTWELL
Levine’s recently published two-volume work, Jewish Law and American Law: A Comparative Study, is primarily a collection of his impressive contributions to the Jewish comparative project over the past three decades. A quick perusal of the two volumes serves as a ready reminder of why Levine has long been one of the academics central to Jewish law’s rise in the American legal academy. Covering his wide range of Jewish law writings, the two volumes traverse significant legal terrain, focusing on the areas of Levine’s primary scholarly emphasis. … For those interested in both Jewish law in particular, and religious law in general, [Jewish Law and American Law] serve[s] as [an] extraordinary exploration within the Jewish comparative law project.
— Michael A. Helfand, American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 67 No. 1
As Samuel Levine readily acknowledges in his first chapter, those who taught Jewish law in Western law schools chose from a number of competing models. Because he is so fully at home with Jewish sources ‘on their own terms,’ as he puts it—a product of both the yeshiva and the Western academy—he is able to move effortlessly between them, and add still more dimensions of understanding. Particularly welcome is his facility with a wealth of material from Jewish philosophy, ethics, and history. Growing out of his years of teaching and writing, the two volumes should become a standard by which Jewish law curricula are judged.
— Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Director of Interfaith Affairs, The Simon Wiesenthal Center
This highly interesting two-volume collection is a major addition to the study of both American Constitutional Law and Jewish Law. These two disciplines may seem very remote from each other, but Professor Levine’s analysis discovers and describes many common principles. We in Israel face a special challenge, as Jewish Law is a recognized source of the law of the land. But there is definitely a common ground with American Law, based on mutual values and the Bible, a common cultural denominator. The richness of subjects and sources covered by Levine is overwhelming. The law is an ocean—and we are brilliantly led to a safe haven.
— Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, Deputy President (Ret.), The Supreme Court of Israel
A wonderful collection of essays by the foremost scholar of Jewish Law teaching full time at an American law school. ... Professor Levine has produced a monumental, erudite work that is wide-ranging, eye-opening, and likely as enduring as the subject of its study. A tour de force.
— Keith Sharfman, Professor of Law, St. John’s University, New York
Professor Samuel J. Levine is one of the leading law and religion and legal ethics scholars of his generation. The two volumes of Jewish and American Law: A Comparative Study are welcome, valuable contributions to these fields and are compelling evidence of Levine’s learning and insight. ... His comparative method illuminates both of the traditions he explores. Scholars and citizens, of all faith traditions or none, will learn from and enjoy this fascinating work.
— Richard W. Garnett, Paul J. Schierl / Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Law; Director, Notre Dame Program on Church, State & Society; Concurrent Professor of Political Science, Notre Dame Law School
Professor Levine brings out the unique qualities of the Jewish and American systems while also exploring with great sensitivity the fundamental policies and values that connect them. These volumes are a landmark in the field of comparative law and an enduring contribution to our understanding of both legal traditions.
— Geoffrey Miller, Stuyvesant P. Comfort Professor of Law; Director, Center for Financial Institutions; Co-Director, Center for Civil Justice, NYU School of Law
This impressive collection of crisp and erudite essays uses the binocular of Jewish law and American law to bring a number of arresting legal themes into sharp new focus. This is comparative legal study and religious lawyering done with grace, wisdom, and refinement.
— John Witte, Jr., Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University
These two volumes are a treasure trove of fine scholarship. In these important and erudite books, Samuel Levine provides a comprehensive study of comparative law between the Jewish and American legal frameworks. ... This is necessary reading for students and scholars of both law and Jewish studies.
— Dr. François-Xavier Licari, Associate Professor of Comparative Law, Université de Lorraine, France
In Jewish Law and American Law: A Comparative Study, Sam Levine, one of the twenty-first century’s leading scholars of Jewish Law, has delivered a must read comprehensive collection of his articles. Each chapter is thought provoking and exceptionally well researched and reasoned. ... [This book] includes several of Levine’s classic articles, but even for those familiar with his work there are less well known, yet thought provoking materials to be found.
— Frank S. Ravitch, Professor of Law and Walter H. Stowers Chair in Law & Religion; Director, Kyoto Japan Program, Michigan State University College of Law
For many years now, Sam Levine has been a voice of reason in an America deeply divided over the role of religion in American life. With this collection, a national audience will learn what the legal academy already knew—that there are powerful and humane lessons to be learned for secular life from Sam Levine’s careful and knowledgeable perspectives on Jewish law.
— Bruce Ledewitz, Professor of Law, Duquesne University School of Law
These essential volumes collect Professor Levine’s vast writings on Jewish and American law in one helpful title. By bringing together Professor Levine’s writing in this way, it is possible to appreciate the breadth and depth of his scholarship.
— David Hollander, Librarian for Law and Legal Studies; Librarian for Judaic Studies and Hebrew, Princeton University Library
Few probably expect a manual on Jewish and American comparative law to be a fluid, entertaining read but Prof. Levine is a skilled teacher and his exposition has clear structure and is leanly written. The research behind the book is astonishing and ... the reader can easily dip into Sam Levine’s erudition.
— Graham James McAleer, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore
Professor Levine is one of the leading scholars currently exploring the intersection of Jewish and American law. By examining how the two legal systems approach a variety of questions, Professor Levine’s work makes meaningful contributions to both Jewish and American law. This book is a must-read for anyone just discovering this exciting field and an invaluable resource for those already steeped in this important intellectual tradition.
— Adam Chodorow, Professor of Law and Willard H. Pedrick Distinguished Research Scholar, Arizona State University College of Law
For over a decade, I have referred to Professor Sam Levine as ‘My Rabbi.’ I am not sure that his Jewish or my Christian tradition would approve, but I use the term in its general sense—‘teacher.’ Sam is my teacher. With the publication of this volume, a broader audience will have the opportunity to learn from Rabbi and Professor Sam Levine, the teacher. His articles explicate the wisdom of Jewish Law and what American law might learn from it, much as courts learn from the reasoning of courts in other states and comparative lawyers learn from the law of other countries. American law will benefit from having these articles together in this collection.
— Robert F. Cochran, Jr., Louis D. Brandeis Professor of Law and Director, Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics Pepperdine University School of Law

Table of Contents

Volume 1


Section One. The Comparative Study of Jewish Law and American Law: An Introduction
1. Teaching Jewish Law in American Law Schools: An Emerging Development in Law and Religion
2. Applying Jewish Legal Theory in the Context of American Law and Legal Scholarship: A Methodological Analysis
3. An Introduction to Interpretation in Jewish Law, with References to American Legal Theory
4. An Introduction to Legislation in Jewish Law, with References to the American Legal System

Section Two. Capital Punishment
5. Capital Punishment in Jewish Law and Its Application to the American Legal System: A Conceptual Overview
6. Playing God: An Essay on Law, Philosophy, and American Capital Punishment

Section Three. Self-Incrimination
7. An Introduction to Self-Incrimination in Jewish Law, with Application to the American Legal System: A Psychological and Philosophical Analysis
8. Miranda, Dickerson, and Jewish Legal Theory: The Constitutional Rule in a Comparative Analytical Framework

Section Four. Constitutional Theory
9. Unenumerated Constitutional Rights and Unenumerated Biblical Obligations: A Preliminary Study in Comparative Hermeneutics
10. Rules and Standards in Jewish Law and American Constitutional Law  
11. Of Inkblots and Omnisignificance: Conceptualizing Secondary and Symbolic Functions of the Ninth Amendment in a Comparative Hermeneutic Framework

Section Five. Legal Practice
12. Reflections on the Practice of Law as a Religious Calling from a Perspective of Jewish Law and Ethics
13. A Look at American Legal Practice through a Perspective of Jewish Law, Ethics, and Tradition: A Conceptual Overview
14. Taking Ethics Codes Seriously: Broad Ethics Provisions and Unenumerated Ethical Obligations in a Comparative Hermeneutic Framework
15. Taking Prosecutorial Ethics Seriously: A Consideration of the Prosecutor's Ethical Obligation to “Seek Justice” in a Comparative Analytical Framework  
16. Taking Ethical Obligations Seriously: A Look at American Codes of Professional Responsibility through a Perspective of Jewish Law and Ethics


Volume 2

Section Six. Law and Narrative
17. Halacha and Aggada: Translating Robert Cover’s Nomos and Narrative
18. Professionalism without Parochialism: Julius Henry Cohen, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, and the Stories of Two Sons

Section Seven. Legal History
19. Lost in Translation: The Strange Journey of an Anti-Semitic Fabrication, from a Late Nineteenth Century Russian Newspaper to an Irish Legal Journal to a Leading Twentieth Century American Criminal Law Textbook
20. Louis Marshall, Julius Henry Cohen, Benjamin Cardozo, and the New York Emergency Rent Laws of 1920: A Case Study in the Role of Jewish Lawyers and Jewish Law in Early Twentieth-Century Public Interest Litigation
21. Jewish Law from out of the Depths: Tragic Choices in the Holocaust
22. Untold Stories of Goldman v. Weinberger: Religious Freedom Confronts Military Uniformity
23. Richard Posner Meets Reb Chaim of Brisk: A Comparative Study in the Founding of Intellectual Legal Movements

Section Eight. Law and Public Policy
24. Reflections on Responsibilities in the Public Square through a Perspective of Jewish Tradition: A Brief Biblical Survey
25. Looking beyond the Mercy/Justice Dichotomy: Reflections on the Complementary Roles of Mercy and Justice in Jewish Law and Tradition
26. Teshuva: A Look at Repentance, Forgiveness, and Atonement in Jewish Law and Philosophy and American Legal Thought