In Volumes VII and VIII of A Restatement of Rabbinic Civil Law, Rabbi Emanuel Quint follows admirably in the path of Maimonides and Rabbi Caro. Building on and updating the work of these and countless other legal scholars, Rabbi Quint offers a comprehensive and scholarly yet comprehensible and practical description of the law in a wide variety of subjects, including sales, gifts and gifts causa mortis, wills and estates, lost property, and bailments. The deceptive simplicity of Rabbi Quint's finished product, however, should not obscure the inherent difficulty of the ambitious task he has undertaken: an attempt to present a guide to contemporary Jewish law by using modern English and employing American legal terminology to translate and update a sixteenth-century restatement of Jewish law written in rabbinic Hebrew. Perhaps the most innovative aspect of Rabbi Quint's Restatement is reflected in his willingness and ability to update Rabbi Caro's rulings and apply them in the setting of contemporary society. At the same time, however, Rabbi Quint's willingness to include such recommendations in his Restatement may leave him vulnerable to the same criticism that has been leveled over the years against some of his predecessors, including Maimonides. Consistent with many of the goals of a restatement, including those of brevity, uniformity, and practicality, Rabbi Quint generally omits references to the legal sources upon with he relies. Yet, perhaps any such objection should be seen in historical perspective, again by reference to Maimonides. Despite the initial protestations to Maimonides' decision not to cite sources, in addition to providing a clear and concise restatement of the law, the Mishne Torah has served as a springboard for extensive and creative scholarly pursuits. With history as our guide, we can hope and anticipate that a similar future awaits Rabbi Quint's Restatement.
17 J. L. & Religion 251 (2002)
17 J. L. & Religion 251