Nothing has made its influence more profoundly felt on the course of the history of the Jewish people, shaping its way of life and giving it form and substance, than the Halakhah. There is, therefore, no phenomenon that more accurately reflects the life and character of the people than the Halakhah.

Ephraim E. Urbach, The Halakhah: Its Sources and Development, trans. Raphael Posner (Ramat Gan: Massada; Jerusalem: Yad la-Talmud, 1986), 1.