Arts Building, University of Manchester, Oxford Road,
M19 9PL. (Building 24 on Campus
Lecture 1: 'The Structure of Halakhah (Law):
the concepts of de'orayta (rules of biblical
status), derabbanan (rules of rabbinic status)
and minhag (custom)' (Arts Lecture Theatre)
Abstract: The opening lecture defines these three basic
categories of the halakhah, indicating their
problematic elements. The traditional descending
hierarchy (de-orayta, derabbanan, minhag) of
this tripartite structure of the halakhah is
by no means clear. These ambiguities have at times
serious practical implications, and examples will be
given to demonstrate this phenomenon.
Lecture 2: 'The Changing Nature of minhag and
the Tendency to Increasing Strictness' (Arts Lecture
Theatre) Abstract: In talmudic times, minhag
was clearly distinguished from halakhah and definitely
possessed a lower order of authority. However,
through the Geonim, Rishonim and up to
the Aharonim we see an increase in the authority
of minhag such that eventually it equals halakhah
derabbanan and even deorayta. We shall
examine the halakhic methodology whereby this process
takes place, and suggest socio-historical reasons for
Lecture 3: 'The Strange Concept of a minhag which
"went away"' (Lower Ground Lecture Theatre
LG12) Abstract: This lecture will exemplify the
growth of minhag by showing how the attitude
towards kitniyot (legumes on Passover) developed
in Ashkenazi communities and grew progressively more
stringent, until it bore no relationship to its possible
18 March Lecture
4: 'The Sociology of Contemporary Psak (religious
legal ruling) and its Deficiencies' (Arts Lecture
Theatre) Abstract: In earlier times, halakhists
confronted by new socio-economic challenges sought out
and found creative solutions within the parameters of
normative halakhah. However, starting in
the early 19th century, a radical change came about,
and Rabbis were loath to make any sort of innovation.
We shall examine the various factors contributing to
at 4.15: Community Sherman Lecture, on 'The Modern Study
of the Halakhah: Yeshivah and Academy' in the Roscoe
Building, University of Manchester at 4.15 (in the context
of the Limmud Day). Abstract: In this lecture, we shall
try to demonstrate how the critical analysis of rabbinic
sources is absolutely essential for the halakhic decision-maker,
and how lack of such discipline can lead to blatant
errors in psak. For those not attending the Limmud
Day, there will be a registration for the lecture of
£5.00. Please book in advance by phoning 0161 720 8721.
of Jewish Studies, Bar-Ilan University; Committee on
National Religious Education, Ministry of Education,
State of Israel; winner of the 1997 Israel Prize.
Sperber's areas of expertise include Classical philology;
History of Jewish customs; Jewish art history; Jewish
Education; Talmudic studies. His recent publications
Sperber, D. The City in Roman Palestine. New
York, Oxford University Press, 2001.
D. Nautica in Talmudic Palestine. Mediterranean History
Review, vol. 15, 2001.
D. Why Jews Do What They Do? New Jersey, 1999.
D. Minhagei Yisrael. Jerusalem, 1998.
D. On the Bathhouse. In: Katzoff, R. (ed.) Classical
Studies in Honor of David Sohlberg, p. 353-366.
Ramat Gan, Bar-Ilan University Press, 1996.
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