Jewish Home MK pushes bill to insert Jewish law into Israeli legal proceedings

By Jessica Weinstein, February 23, 2016
MK Nissan Slomiansky (Picture: knesset.gov.il)

MK Nissan Slomiansky (Picture: knesset.gov.il)

An MK has proposed a bill to introduce Jewish law into Israeli legal proceedings.

The Hebrew Law Bill, proposed by the chairman of the Knesset’s Justice Committee, Habayit Hayehudi party member MK Nissan Slomiansky, will encourage judges to use Jewish law (halachah) in their rulings.

To help lawmakers make use of Jewish laws, Mr Slomiansky has proposed translating Jewish legal literature into modern legal language, saying that "there is a need to make Jewish civil law literature accessible to all judges".

“Any judge who wishes to avail himself of this service will submit his question to the institute and it will prepare an answer based on Hebrew law,” Mr Slomiansky said.

An earlier version of the bill was proposed last year, but failed to win any votes due to its recommendation that judges turn to halachah in cases that have no contemporary precedent to guide their decision. In the revised bill, however, judges are urged to turn first to international law for guidance, and then to Jewish law.

Mr Slomiansky addressed fears that the use of Jewish law would lead to religious restrictions as a result of the law.

“The law doesn’t stipulate that everyone will have to go to the mikveh or cover their head,” he said. “There is no intention of educating anyone to become religious and lay teffilin. There is an answer for everyone here.

“A judge who is scholarly won’t need this law in order to draw inspiration from Hebrew law. An anti-religious judge won’t use this law since it doesn’t compel him to. However, most judges are reasonable people and may use Hebrew law, which is currently not easily accessible.”

Last updated: 4:00pm, February 23 2016