Damages (Jewish Law) - History and Literature

History and Literature

In rabbinic literature, damages law is articulated primarily in tractate Bava Kamma of the aptly named Order Nezikin. In Bava Kamma, the Mishnah and Talmud set forth the framework for damages law and formulate numerous rules and key8 principles. In addition, law pertaining to damages appears in Bava Metzia, Sanhedrin and other Talmudic tractates. After undergoing further expression during the Geonic period, damages law was incorporated in the Jewish law codes of the medieval and early modern periods. In the Shulchan Aruch (16th century), the topic is codified primarily within Hoshen Mishpat, the section (Tur) most similar to modern civil law. The law of damages remained a popular and important topic throughout the history of rabbinic responsa literature, tapering off dramatically in the 19th century as European Jewish communities come under the jurisdiction of national legal systems.

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