glossary of terms

Halakhah (Hebrew: הלכה‎ also Halocho and Halacha)

Jewish legal teaching, codified in the Talmud.

Halakha is the collective body of Jewish religious law, including biblical law (the 613 mitzvot) and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions. Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life. Hence, Halakha guides not only religious practices and beliefs, but numerous aspects of day-to-day life. Halakha is often translated as "Jewish Law", although a more literal translation might be "the path" or "the way of walking." The word is derived from the Hebrew root that means to go or to walk.

Historically, Halakha served many Jewish communities as an enforceable avenue of civil and religious law. In the modern era, Jewish citizens may be bound to Halakha only by their voluntary consent. Under contemporary Israeli law, however, certain areas of Israeli family and personal status law are ruled according to Halakha. Reflecting the diversity of Jewish communities, somewhat different approaches to Halakha are found among Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Sephardi, and Yemenite Jews.