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Halakha is the collective body of Jewish religious laws derived from the Written and Oral Torah. It is based on biblical laws or "commandments" (mitzvot) (traditionally numbered as 613), subsequent Talmudic and rabbinic law and the customs and traditions compiled in the many books, one of the most famous of which is the sixteenth century Shulchan Aruch (literally "Prepared Table").

Halakha is often translated as "Jewish Law", although a more literal translation might be "the way to behave" or "the way of walking". The word derives from the root that means "to behave" (also "to go" or "to walk"). Halakha guides not only religious practices and beliefs, but numerous aspects of day-to-day life.

Historically, in the Jewish diaspora, halakha served many Jewish communities as an enforceable avenue of law – both civil and religious, since there is no differentiation in classical Judaism. Since the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) and Jewish emancipation many have come to view the halakha as less binding in day-to-day life, as it relies on rabbinic interpretation, as opposed to the pure, written words recorded in the Hebrew Bible.

Under contemporary Israeli law, certain areas of Israeli family and personal status law are under the authority of the rabbinic courts and are therefore treated according to halakha. Some differences in halakha itself are found among Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Sephardi, Yemenite, and other Jews who historically lived in isolated communities, such as in Ethiopia, reflecting the historic and geographic diversity of various Jewish communities within the Diaspora.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Halakha" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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