Religious and Legal Particularism and Universality

18 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2013

Date Written: January 16, 2013


Assuming that law and religion are present in all human societies and that in all human societies law and religion are deeply intertwined and interdependent, this essay uses Isaac Bashevis Singer’s account of his father’s rabbinical court in interwar Poland to explore the particularity, universality, and multiply inter-related nature of these two ubiquitous cultural forms. Singer’s father’s court is at once singularly the product of a distinctive modern iteration of Jewish rabbinic law and Hasidic pietism and a synecdoche for law and religion writ large; Singer’s elegiac tales celebrate the specificity of this time and place while offering the cultural coherence and flexibility of the law enacted there as a model for human justice.

Keywords: law, religion, Judaism, pluralism

Suggested Citation

Sullivan, Winnifred Fallers, Religious and Legal Particularism and Universality (January 16, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan (Contact Author)

Indiana University Bloomington ( email )

Bloomington, IN
United States

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