The halachah has been ridiculed for its preoccupation with texts and hair-splitting minutiae even as criticism has often been levelled against Judaism for its arid legalism. In disparaging the halachah as a system cold, rigid, and impersonal, the critics overlooked or failed to see the ideas and concepts of humanity, sympathy and compassion that are embedded in the Jewish legal system and its literature. Embracing the whole domain of existence, the halachah, far from taking no account of particular situations, has paid due regard to the humanities of life. Indeed, like Biblical teaching, rabbinic legislation has been guided by the highest moral principles, social criteria, and considerations of human welfare.

M.S. Lew, “The Humanity of the Halachah,” Essays Presented to Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday, ed. H.J. Zimmels, J. Rabbinowitz, I. Finestein (London: The Soncino Press Limited, 1967), 243.

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