Skip to main content

halakah

halakah or halacha (both: hälä´khä, häläkhä´) [Heb.,=law], in Judaism, the body of law regulating all aspects of life, including religious ritual, familial and personal status, civil relations, criminal law, and relations with non-Jews. Halakah is the term used to designate both a particular ordinance and the law in the abstract. The adjective halakic means "of a legal nature." The plural, halakoth, designates a collection of laws. It usually refers to the Oral Law as codified in the Mishna and, in particular, to those statements of law that appear in categorical form without immediate regard for scriptural derivation. The most authoritative codifications of these laws are the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides and the Shulhan Arukh [the set table] by Joseph Caro. Halakah was the important unifying force in world Jewry until modern times, when its authority was challenged by religious reform and secular conceptions of a Jewish nation. Contemporary problems in halakah revolve around its application to technological change, especially in relation to medical issues and Sabbath observance. Halakah is contrasted with aggada (plural aggadoth), the literary, aesthetic elements in the Oral Law and in the Talmud, and Midrash generally, which elaborates scriptural meaning through legends, tales, parables, and allegories. Both the halakic and aggadic elements have been extracted and made the subject of commentary.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"halakah." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"halakah." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/halakah

"halakah." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/halakah

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.