We shall then conclude that the Jewish people really treated Jewish law, throughout their existence and their dispersion, as their special property, as part of the treasure of their culture. It follows that this law served in the past as the national law of the Jews, and even today possesses this national character in respect of Jews wherever they may be.
Agranat J. CA 191/51 Skornik v. Skornik
Jewish law is the ancient legal system developed by the Jewish nation throughout thousands of years, and has been an inseparable part of the nation in all its places of exile.
The Matz Institute for Research in Jewish Law at the Faculty of Law of the Hebrew University occupies a leading place, in Israel and abroad, in the research and instruction of Jewish Law. The Institute, located on Mount Scopus, was built in 1925, on the initiative of the then deputy to the President of the Israel Supreme Court, Prof. (emeritus) Menachem Elon. Thus, the Institute expanded and deepened the research of Jewish Law, which was one of the earliest areas of research in the Hebrew University already in the 1920’s
The Institute’s affiliation with both the Faculty of Law and the Institute of Jewish Studies reflects its founders’ vision of combining the research methods of Jewish Law with the classical methods of Jewish Studies.
The Institute’s main achievements have been in four areas:
Firstly, training a generation of first-rate scholars, now occupying key positions in Jewish Law research and instruction at universities all over the country. Presently, the Institute offers programs of advanced studies in Jewish Law, preparing the next generation of leading researchers.
Secondly, publishing books and studies in a wide variety of topics, on a high level of academic excellence. These publications, among other things, have made the literature and sources of Jewish Law more readily accessible to teachers, students and jurists. A monumental project in this area is the Responsa index project, aimed at indexing Responsa literature in the period of the Rishonim (i.e., prior to the fifteenth century).
Thirdly, the Institute publishes the Shenaton Ha-Mishpat Ha-Ivri, which is now firmly established as the premier journal in the field. The twenty-eight volumes published hitherto present a diversity of studies by scholars of the first rank on classical and modern subjects of Jewish Law.
Recently, the Institute was handed over the Jewish Law Annual (English), and its volumes are now published as a part of the Institute’s publications.
Fourthly, the Institute’s library owns a unique, rich and varied collection of volumes in all areas of Halakhic literature, Jewish Law research and related subjects, now considered the most important library of its kind in this country and indeed in the whole world. Its services are at the disposal of students, scholars and jurists.
Recently, the Institute added to its ranks a new generation of young researchers, continuing the Institute’s glorious legacy. The Institute upholds lively activities in the Jewish Law researching and teaching areas, thus providing a substantial framework for all those related to these areas.