A law school dean and Justice Ministry official agree: More Jewish Law is needed in Israel's civil courts.

Dr. Aviad HaCohen, of the Shaarei Mishpat (Gates of Law) Law School in Hod HaSharon, and Dr. Michael Wigoda, who heads the Justice Ministry's Jewish Law section, both bemoan the declining citations of Jewish Law in civil law cases in Israeli courts.

"In the last few years," Dr. Wigoda says, "Misphat Ivri (traditional Jewish Law) has not been receiving the status it deserves, and most of the courts do not rely on it or cite it."

The law school and the Justice Ministry are therefore collaborating on a project in which weekly articles on Jewish Law, based on the weekly Torah portion, are emailed to judges, law professors, lawyers, and others.

"In addition to the dozens of sheets that are published every week ," Dr. HaCohen says, "it would be good to tell those who do not necessarily frequent synagogues what Jewish Law has to say about the weekly Torah portion."

The articles can be accessed on the internet, at www.justice.gov.il/MOJHeb/MishpatIvri/Parashot/gilyonot.htm. They are published in Hebrew, the language in which modern Israeli law is determined. 

Parenting, Promises, Silence and More

Recent articles have discussed topics such as parenting according to Jewish Law, the right to remain silent, mistaken rulings, the role of the court system in disseminating knowledge, and keeping promises.

The goal is to "incorporate Jewish sources in the courts' rulings," Dr. HaCohen adds. The articles have acquired a measure of popularity, with dozens of recent court rulings having quoted them.

 Among the writers are judges in the Supreme, District and Magistrates Courts, judges in Rabbinical and Labor courts, lawyers, researchers, and others.

Time, Ignorance, and Ideology

Wigoda and HaCohen say that the "too little time, not enough knowledge, and even ideological objections" are to blame for the fact that "only a few judges in Israel use Jewish Law in their rulings. [The others] prefer to rely instead on foreign literature and foreign rulings."

The Shaarei Mishpat College states on its website that it "seeks to encourage and foster teaching and research activity in the field of Hebrew law, and to disseminate knowledge of Hebrew law within the legal system.  Accordingly, preference will be given to candidates with a background in Jewish studies."