By: Joseph Jacobs
Noun, derived from the verb , "to go," "to walk." The act of going or walking is expressed by , while the closely related is used only in the sense of "way of acting," "habit," "usage," "custom," and especially "guidance" and the norm of practise. For instance, when it is said in the Talmud that a halakah is according to this or that rabbi, it is meant that the opinion of the rabbi referred to, though in opposition to other opinions, is decisive for the practise. Sometimes it is used with the meaning of "tradition," as, for instance, when the Rabbis said: "If this is halakah [i.e., tradition] we will accept it; but if it is merely a 'din' [i.e., an argument] it is open to question" (Ker. iii. 9). "Halakah" stands sometimes for the whole legal part of Jewish tradition, in contradistinction to the Haggadah, comprising thus the whole civil law and ritual law of rabbinical literature and extending also to all the usages, customs, ordinances, and decrees for which there is no authority in the Scriptures. In modern works occurs also the term "midrash halakah," covering interpretations, discussions, and controversies connected with the legal part of the Scriptures (See Midrash Halakah).
- Dictionaries of Kohut, Jastrow, and Levy;
- Zunz, G. V. 2d ed., p. 44.