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Jewish Community, Religion, and Family in Early Modern Metz
In Law’s Dominion, Jay Berkovitz offers a novel approach to the history of early modern Jewry. Set in the city of Metz, on the Moselle river, this study of a vibrant prerevolutionary community draws on a wide spectrum of legal sources that tell a story about community, religion, and family that has not been told before.
Focusing on the community’s leadership, public institutions, and judiciary, this study challenges the assumption that Jewish life was in a steady state of decline before the French Revolution. To the contrary, the evidence reveals a robust community that integrated religious values and civic consciousness, interacted with French society, and showed remarkable signs of collaboration between Jewish law and the French judicial system.

In Law’s Dominion, Jay Berkovitz has gathered and meticulously mined a dazzling array of rich and complex rabbinic texts and records from Western Europe during the early modern period, including the pinkas of the rabbinic court of Metz that he previously rescued from oblivion. What emerges is a remarkably fresh depiction and incisive comparative treatment of central aspects of Jewish law, religion and family, which will have far-reaching ramifications for all future studies in these disciplines.
-Ephraim Kanarfogel, E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature, and Law at Yeshiva University
Rabbi J. David Bleich is Professor of Talmud (Rosh Yeshiva) at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, an affiliate of Yeshiva University, as well as the Director of its Postgraduate Institute for the study of Talmudic Jurisprudence and Family Law. In addition, he holds the Herbert and Florence Tenzer Chair of Jewish Law and Ethics at Yeshiva University and is Professor of Law at the Cardozo School of Law. A foremost authority on Jewish law and ethics, he has written extensively on medical ethics, Jewish law and contemporary social issues, and the interface of Jewish law and the American legal system. As the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Jehuda in Manhattan, Rabbi Bleich teaches weekly Talmud classes and lectures on Jewish law and philosophy.
Author: Hugo Mantel
Author: L.M. Epstein