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Collected Essays: v. 1$
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Haym Soloveitchik

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113973

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113973.001.0001

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‘Religious Law and Change’ Revisited

‘Religious Law and Change’ Revisited

(p.258) Chapter Ten ‘Religious Law and Change’ Revisited
Collected Essays: v. 1

Haym Soloveitchik

Liverpool University Press

This chapter surveys the author's essay which differentiates between the terms minhag and nohag. These may be roughly translated as “custom” and “habitual practice.” Custom (minhag) has a recognized threefold place in halakhah. It may adjudicate between two halakhic views; it may tilt the balance of an issue in which the law is unclear; and it may determine conduct in the interstices of the halakhah, there being no directives in the normative literature on the subject. Nohag, “habitual practice,” the focus of the essay, refers to conduct that is not viewed as custom, not perceived as part of a conscious religious tradition, but simply the way people of a community have traditionally acted on the assumption that these practices are legitimate, are in accord with the halakhah. What happens when a received practice is discovered to contravene the halakhah? It is in its attitude towards habitual practice that Ashkenaz parts company with other Jewish cultures.

Keywords:   minhag, nohag, custom, habitual practice, halakhah, religious tradition, Ashkenaz, Jewish cultures

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