RS702: Halakhic Process

Instructor:  Dr. Vered Hillel
Location: Populi (
Dates: March 13–May 22

The Messianic Jewish rabbi will be called upon to work with other rabbis to establish halakhic norms, explain and apply these norms in congregational life, and render opinions on halakhic matters not directly covered by our established norms. This course will familiarize students with the textual sources and the historical and current process of halakhic formation required to fulfill these tasks and incorporate distinctive elements of Messianic Jewish Halakah.

This course is required for the MRS degree.

This course will cover the foundational principles of the halakhic process. It is pivotal for Messianic Jewish rabbis to understand the halakhic process from the Talmudic era through modern times and how this has focused more on the pragmatic than on the theoretical. To build a mature Messianic Judaism, our rabbis need to be skilled at knowing to what degree old principles have remained stable to what degree they have been modified, and how non-halakhic considerations have been utilized in the halakhic process. This class will teach both implicit and explicit systematic principles of analysis gleaned from primary Jewish sources used to make halakhic decisions and how to incorporate modern scientific advances in the decision-making process, all in light of Yeshua. These principles are vital as all-new halakhic decisions should demonstrate how and under what conditions they continue to be authentically incorporated into the actual halakhic process. Embracing the traditional/historical halakhic process embeds Messianic Judaism more into its Jewish matrix.

The course will:

  1. Endeavor to enable MJ rabbis to embrace traditional/historical halakhic process in the development of their MJ community, as well as the wider MJ community, and not to train Poskim;
  2. Introduce implicit and explicit systemic principles of analysis used in halakhic decision making;
  3. Assume that halakha is ours (MJs) as part of the Jewish people and not simply the possession of the Orthodox community;
  4. Exemplify the complexity of the halachic process and the need to know Rabbinic halakhic material;
  5. Emphasize the gradations of authority in the halakhic process and its pragmatic nature, as well as the primacy of Torah;
  6. Explore ways to incorporate Yeshua-faith into the halakhic process.

By the successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Understand the pragmatic and theoretical aspects of the halakhic process;
  2. Know the fundamental principles upon which the halakhic system functions;
  3. Recognize and answer the various kinds of questions dealt with by poskim;
  4. Apprehend and utilize the systematic principles of the halakhic process, including those that govern the use of “precedent” and “custom” in halakhic decision-making;
  5. Discuss the source and scope of rabbinic authority;
  6. Incorporate extralegal sources into halakhic discussion and decision-making;
  7. Articulate how Yeshua-faith impacts the halakhic process and our engagement with it.


Online video conference/podcast and asynchronous online discussion threads (blog).


  • Abelson, Kassel and Loel M. Weiss. “Burial of Non-Jewish Spouse and Children.” (online).
  • Berkovits, Eliezer. Not in Heaven: the Nature and Function of Jewish Law. Jerusalem and NY: Shalem Press, 1983.
  • Zemer, Moshe. Evolving Halakhah: A Progressive Approach to Traditional Jewish Law. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights, 2003.
  • Course Reader compiled of articles from books. Price of Course Reader will be based on copyright permissions.
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