A takkanah is a major legislative enactment within
halakha(Jewish law), the normative system of Judaism's laws.
A "takkanah" is an enactment which (1) revises an ordinance that no longer satisfies the requirements of the times or circumstances, or which (2), being deduced from a Biblical passage, may be regarded as new. It is, therefore, the antithesis of the Gezerah. "Takkanot" (plural) were framed even in the time of the Second
Temple in Jerusalem, those of unknown origin being ascribed to earlier leaders, and they have been promulgated at all subsequent periods of Jewish history. The term is applied also to the institution provided for in the enactment.
Classical Jewish law granted rabbinic sages wide legislative powers. There are two powerful legal tools within the halakhic system:
* "Gezeirah": "preventative legislation" of the classical rabbis, intended to prevent violations of the |commandments
* "Takkanah": "positive legislation", practices instituted by the rabbis not based (directly) on the commandments as such.
However, the general term "takkanah" is used to refer to either gezeirot or takkanot.
Takkanot, in general, do not affect or restrict observance of Torah "mitzvot". However, the Talmud states that in exceptional cases, the Jewish sages had the authority to "uproot matters from the Torah" in certain cases. In Talmudic and classical halakhic literature, this authority refers to the authority to prohibit some things that would otherwise be biblically sanctioned ("shev v'al ta'aseh"). Rabbis may rule that a Torah mitzvah should not be performed, e.g. blowing the
shofaron Shabbat, or blessing the lulav and etrog on Shabbat. These are takkanot are executed out of fear that some might otherwise carry the mentioned items between home and the synagogue, thus inadvertently violating a Sabbath melakha.
Another rare and limited form of takkanah involved overriding Torah prohibitions. In some cases, the sages allowed the temporary violation a prohibition in order to maintain the Jewish system as a whole. This was part of the basis for
Esther's relationship with Ahasuerus. (Sanhedrin)
Early Biblical takkanot
Among the earlier takkanot are the institutions ascribed to
#the observance on holy days of the ceremonies peculiar to the festivals in question (Meg. 32a; comp. Tosef., Meg. vii.)
#reading aloud from the Torah on the Sabbath, on holy days, on New Moons, and on the semifestivals (Meg. 28a; Yer. Meg. iv. 1)
#the first blessing in the grace after meals (Ber. 48b
#the eight watches of the priests, four by Eleazar and four by Ithamar, which Samuel and David increased to twenty-four (Ta'an. 27a)
#the seven days of wedding festivities for a virgin, and seven days of mourning for the dead (the festivities for a widow's wedding were later ordained to last three days; Yer. Ket. i. 1; comp. Ket. 3a, b).
Other Biblical takkanot were ascribed as follows:
#the second blessing in the grace after meals (Ber. 48b);
#ten regulations which, however, are not takkanot in the strict sense of the term (B. Ḳ. 80b, 81b, 114a; Tosef., B. M. xi.)
Boaz, the ancestor of David: the salutation in the name of God (Ber. 54a).
#increase of the eight watches of the priests to twenty-four (see above);
#the recitation of a hundred benedictions daily (Num. R. xviii., but comp. Men. 43b);
#the third blessing in the grace after meals (Ber. 48b).
#the practise regarding the 'Erub (Shab. 14b; 'Er. 21a; Yalḳ., Cant. 23)
#the washing of the hands before Ḳiddush, which Shammai and Hillel made obligatory for Terumah as well, while later authorities extended it to still other occasions (Shab. 14b; 'Er. 21b)
#the regulation regarding entrance upon another's fields after the harvest (possibly enacted by Joshua also; B. Ḳ. 80b).
Takkanot ascribed to the Earlier Prophets
#The singing of Hallel on every important occasion, and especially after escape from danger (Pes. 117a);
#the introduction of twenty-four divisions of laymen, corresponding to the twenty-four watches of the priests (Ta'an. 27a).
To the Prophets before the destruction of the Temple:
#the payment of terumah and tithes in Babylon as well as in Palestine (Yad. iv. 3);
#the payment of the second tithe ("ma'aser sheni") in the seventh year (ib.);
#payment of it in Egypt, Ammon, and Moab likewise (ib.);
#payment of the tithe for the poor ("ma'aser 'ani") even in the seventh year (ib.).
To the Prophets after the destruction of the Temple: fasting on the Seventh of Tammuz,
Tisha B'Av(Ninth day of Av), First of Tishri, and Tenth of ?ebet ("Yede Eliyahu," ed. Constantinople, 1728, xl. 14).
Takkanot of Ezra
The following takkanot are ascribed to
#the reading of ten verses of the Torah by three men on Monday and Thursday (Men. 82a)
#the reading of Lev. xxxiii. 14-46 before the Passover, and of Deut. xxvii. 15-69 before New-Year (Meg. 31b)
#sessions of the courts on Monday and Thursday (B. Ḳ. 82a
#the washing of clothes on Thursday (ib.)
#the eating of garlic on Friday (ib.)
#early rising on Friday morning for the purpose of baking (ib.)
#the wearing of a girdle by women for reasons of modesty (ib.)
#the obligation of the
mikvah(ritual bath) (ib.)
#the regulation obliging pedlers to traverse the city in case they deal in articles necessary for women (ib.)
#ritual baths for those who have become unclean (ib.).
To the 120 elders, including the Prophets (the "men of the Great Sanhedrin"):
#the recitation of the "Shemoneh Esreh" on week-days;
#the insertion of the prayer against heretics in the time of Gamaliel, and, much later, of the "Adonai Sefatai" before the "Tefillah."
Takkanot ascribed to the men of the Great Synagogue
#The reading of Megillat Esther in the villages and unwalled cities on the Fourteenth of Adar and in walled cities on the following day; banquets on those days; and the giving of alms (Meg. 2a)
#The introduction of seven blessings into the "Tefillah" on the Sabbath and on holy days; the addition of nine benedictions to the musaf for the New Moon and for the semi-festivals, and of twenty-four on fast-days (Ber. 33a)
#Recitation of prayers::(a) recitation of a number of prayers:(b) period of duration of each prayer:(c) the offering of prayer daily:(d) three times on week-days,:(e) four times on
shabbat, Yom Tov(festivals), fasts, and Rosh Chodesh(New Moons), and:(f) five times on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement; later addition of the "Magen Avot" from the Amidahon Friday evening, and the genuflection before and after the first blessing ("Avot") and before and after the penultimate "hoda'ah" (Ber. 26b)
#Introduction of Benediction, prayer, Kiddush, and Havdalah (Ber. 33a).
John Hyrcanus(135-106 B.C.)
#Decree forbidding the recitation of the prayer of thanksgiving, "Widdui Ma'aser" (Deut. xxvi. 5-10), by any who have not paid the proper tithes at the end of the third year (Yer. Sotah ix. 11)
#the appointment of officials to collect the tithes (Tosef., Sotah, xiii)
#the use of rings in the shambles to force the animals to stand still (Sotah 47a)
#prohibition of blacksmithing on semi-festivals (ib.; M. Ḳ. 11a).
By the court of the Hasmoneans
#The solemn celebration of the Ḥanukkah festival, beginning on the 25th of Kislew (Meg. Ta'an.; Shab. 21b);
#insertion of the name of God in legal documents (R. H. 18b; subsequently abrogated). By the court of the priests: (1) the daughter of a priest to be entitled to 300 zuzim under her marriage contract, and the widow of a priest to 100 zuzim (Ket. 12a); (2) the ketubah of a woman about to contract a levirate marriage to form a lien on the property of her first husband; and if he had no property, that of the levir to be appropriated (Yeb. 39a; Ket. 82b);
#the ketubah of a virgin to be of the value of 200 zuzim, and that of a widow or divorcée, 100 zuzim (Ket. 10a).
Takkanot of Simeon ben Shetah
By Simeon b. Shetah:
#all the real estate of the husband to be entered in the marriage contract in favor of the wife (Shab. 14b; Ket. viii., end), but the former may employ the dowry in his business;
#compulsory attendance at school (ib.);
#the declaration that foreign glass is impure (ib.).
Takkanot of Hillel (75 B.C.-5 C.E.)
#Introduction of the
Prosbul(Sheb. x. 3, 4; Giṭ. 36a)
#the purchase-money of a house to be deposited in the Temple; the original owner may seize it by force in order to prevent its payment to the seller before the expiration of a year (Ar. 31b; Giṭ. 74b).
By Gamaliel I. (middle of 1st cent.)
#The condemnation of 2,000 (subsequently increased) ells of ground in which the New Moon witnesses might freely move on the Sabbath (R. H. 23b);
#the full names of the husband and the wife to be inserted in a bill of divorce (Giṭ. 34b);
#the signatures of witnesses to the bill of divorce (ib.);
#a widow may take the portion secured to her by her marriage contract only after all claims of the orphans have been fully satisfied (ib.);
#a bill of divorce may be declared invalid only in the presence of the messenger who has brought it, or in the presence of the wife before she has received it (Giṭ, 32a).
Takkanot of Johanan ben Zakkai
Most of the ordinances of Johanan b. Zakkai were promulgated before the time of the destruction of the
Temple in Jerusalem, and were consequently modified after the year 70.
Frankel enumerates eleven of these decrees in his "Hodegetica," although Bloch lists nine only (comp. R. H. 31b), which are as follows:
#the New Moon witnesses must go to the place where the court assembles (R. H. 31b)
#the testimony of such witnesses to be received at any time during the day (ib. 30b)
#they may not desecrate the Sabbath by traveling, except in Nisan and Tishri, the most important two months (ib. 21b)
#the shofar to be blown even on the Sabbath (R. H. 29b)
#the lulav to be swung on all the seven days of the festival (ib. 30a)
#the consumption of new grain is forbidden during the entire day of the waving of the Omer (ib.)
#priests may not wear sandals when they ascend the "dukan," or platform, to pronounce the benediction (Sotah 40a; R. H. 31b)
#a proselyte must deposit a quarter-shekel in the treasury to be able to bring his sacrifice when the Temple shall be rebuilt(this was repealed by Johanan b. Zakkai himself; Ker. 9a; R. H. 31b)
#abolition of the ritual governing trials for adultery (Sotah 47a).
Ordinance ascribed to Gamaliel II. and the court of Jabneh
Agriculture is permitted until the first day of the Sabbatical year (Tosef., Sheb. i.).
Takkanah ascribed to the court of Jabneh: the fourth benediction in the grace after meals in memory of those who fell at Bethar (Ber. 48b).
After R. Gamaliel's death the Sanhedrin of Jabneh seems to have gone to Usha (the modern AlUs) for reasons which are no longer known, and the grounds of its takkanot are equally obscure. In view of their ethical import, however, these enactments soon became binding. They were as follows:
#a man must support his minor children
#if a man transfers his property to his sons, both he and his wife enjoy a life income from it
#the gift of more than one-fifth of one's property for alms is forbidden
#a father must deal gently with his son until the latter reaches the age of twelve; but after that age he may be severe with him
#after a wife's death the husband may sell the property included in her dowry
#one who attacks an old man must pay one pound of gold for the injury
#elucidation of the seven doubtful reasons through which the terumah becomes unfit for use and must be burned (Ket. 49a, 50b; Yer. Ket. iv. 28b; M. Ḳ. 17a; Yer. M. Ḳ. iii. 8; Shab. 15b)
These ordinances were enacted by the rabbis of the second generation of
tannaim, Rabbi Ishmael being especially mentioned (B. B. 28b; Niddah 14b).
An ordinance is also extant which dates from the time called the period of religious persecution ("shemad"). When Hadrian issued his decree forbidding the Jews to observe their religion, the teachers, including R. Akiba, R. Tarfon, and R. Jose the Galilean, met in council and agreed that during the time of the persecution the Law might be transgressed in all respects, except as regarded the commands relating to idolatry, chastity, and morality, although this regulation was observed only superficially and only when necessary in order to deceive the Roman spies.
Three ordinances have been preserved which were promulgated by R. Jose b. Ḥalafta of Sepphoris, of the third generation of tannaim, who flourished about the middle of the second century. They are as follows: (1) during a funeral the mourners must remain standing while those who console them pass by (Sanh. 19a); (2) women living in lonely places must associate with one another, so as not to attract the attention and evil desire of any man (ib.); (3) a child accompanied by its mother must not lag behind on the road, lest it come to harm (ib.).
Ordinances of the last Tannaim
The following ordinances are ascribed to the last generation of tannaim (end of the second and beginning of the third century):
To R. Judah I., ha-Nasi: (1) messengers must be sent every month to announce the new moon to the Diaspora (R. H. 22b); (2) concerning the purchase of fields among the Sicarii (Giṭ. 55b); (3) on menstruation (Niddah 66a).
Ordinances from the period of the
Mishnahand relating to women are as follows:
#an orphan girl married during her minority may leave her husband without a bill of divorce on attaining her majority (Ket. 46b)
#the permission to marry a feebleminded girl (Yeb. 112b)
#a virgin should be married on a Wednesday (Ket. 1a)
#various laws of purification (Niddah 11a)
#the earnings of the wife belong to her husband (Ket. 46a)
#the husband must pay all bills for his wife's illness (Ket. 51a)
#a husband must ransom his wife from captivity (ib. 76b)
#a husband must defray the expenses of his wife's burial (ib. 76a)
#whatever is found by the wife belongs to her husband (B. M. 12a)
#a widow is entitled to remain in the house of her deceased husband and to share in the income (ib. 52b)
#orphan girls share the income from their father's estate until they reach their majority (ib. 52b); (12) male heirs succeed to the property of the mother, even after their father's death (ib. 52b);
#the daughter is entitled to a certain portion of her father's estate as her dowry (ib. 67a); (14) a bill of divorce must be written and signed in the presence of the messenger who is to deliver it (Giṭ. i. 1); (15) the date must be given in all legal documents (ib. 17a); (16) in a bill of divorce the date must be given according to the state calendar (Giṭ. 79b; later it was also dated according to the era of Creation)
#witnesses must sign a bill of divorce in the presence of each other (ib. 10a)
#introduction of the "geṭ mekushshar" to make divorce more difficult (B. B. 160a)
#a woman becomes free even though only a single witness testifies to her husband's death (Yeb. 87b).
Takkanot for the sake of peace, order and fair business
The more the Jews came in contact with the Romans and the Persians, the more they were obliged to modify the letter of their laws, and to introduce ordinances of the class characterized as necessary (a) "for the preservation of the order of the world," or (b) "for the sake of peace."
The regulations of this type, like those already mentioned, date from the mishnaic period, and were promulgated for the sake of morality. In addition, there were other takkanot designed (c) to facilitate repentance and (d) to contribute to "the interests of the market" or of business.
Takkanot "for the preservation of the order of the world"
#A servant who is half free may compel his master to manumit him entirely; but he must give a note for one-half his value; and this debt must be paid (Giṭ. 41a);
#the ransom paid for prisoners must not exceed the usual sum (ib. 45i);
#prisoners must not be allowed to escape (ib.);
Tefillinand other sacred articles must not be taken from any who are not Gentiles (ib.);
#if land in Palestine is sold to a Gentile, the first-fruits must be forfeited (ib. 47a);
#if one divorces his wife for immorality, he may never take her back again (ib. 45a);
#on demand, one who has suffered injury is to receive reimbursement from the best of the estate; a creditor, from the medium; and a wife, with her marriage contract as security, from the worst (ib. 48b);
#if there is any property without encumbrance, nothing may be taken in payment of a debt from a field which has been mortgaged (ib.);
#the least desirable portion of the real estate of orphans may be taken in payment of debts (ib.);
#mortgaged property may not be applied to the pleasure or support of the wife (ib.);
#one who finds anything shall not take an oath (ib.);
#a guardian may not be compelled to take an oath (ib. 52a);
#accidental defilement of holy vessels either by a layman or by the priest in the Temple is punishable (ib. 52b).
Takkanot "for the sake of peace"
#The call to the reading of the
Torahto be made in a definite order (Giṭ. 59a);
#the eruv (joint legal domain to insure free movement on Shabbat) may be arranged even with unoccupied houses (ib.);
#the cistern nearest the river is to be filled first (ib.);
#hunting includes robbery (ib. 59b);
#things found in the possession of one to whom they would not normally come imply theft (ib.);
#the poor are permitted to pluck fruit from a neighbor's tree, but taking what remains on the ground is theft (ib.);
#even the Gentile may share in the harvest gifts to the poor (ib.).
Takkanot facilitating repentance
#One who steals a beam and builds it into his house need pay for the damage to the beam only (Giṭ. 55a);
#if a robber or a usurer wishes to restore goods or money taken, they or it shall not be accepted (ib.);
#purchase and sale by persons not regularly dealing in the wares in question are valid, in case such persons have reached years of maturity, in order that they may support themselves (Giṭ. 59a);
#if one brings a stolen animal as a sin-offering before the theft is known, the sacrifice is valid (ib. 55a).(d) Takkanah in "the interests of the market" or of business: if one unwittingly purchases stolen goods, the owner must refund the money paid for them (B. Ḳ. 114b).
Ordinances relating to legal proceedings, like those which governed the religious life, were highly important so long as the Jews retained their own judicial system in the Diaspora. These regulations fall, according to Bloch (l.c.), into three categories: ordinances relating (a) to commerce; (b) to civil law; and (c) to the oath. They are a form of
business ethics. See Religious views on business ethics.
Ordinances relating to commerce
#It is permissible to take possession of real estate under certain conditions (B. M. 10a, b)
#movables may be acquired only by actual possession, not by purchase (ib. 44a);
#movables when together with immovables are acquired by purchase or contract (Ḳid. 26a);
#acquisition by a verbal conveyance of the three parties concerned is legal (Giṭ. 13b; Ḳid. 48a; this is not, however, expressly declared to be an ordinance);
#a verbal conveyance of property by one who is moribund is legally binding (B. Ḳ. 146b);
#a proselyte may be the heir of a Gentile father (Ḳid. 17b); even before taking possession a son may dispose of a part of his deceased father's property to defray the funeral expenses (B. M. 16a; Tosef., Ned. vi.).
Ordinances relating to civil law
#In actions for debt testimony may be accepted without further investigations (Sanh. 3a, 32a)
#actions for debt may be tried even by judges who have not yet received the "semikah" (ordination; Sanhedrin)
#a contract may be authenticated only by the witnesses who have signed it (Ket. 18b)
#on the strength of his contract a creditor may collect his debts either from the heirs or from those who purchase from the debtor (B. B. 176a)
Ordinances on the oath
#If a laborer demands his wages and his employer asserts that he has paid them, the former must take an oath before he can obtain payment (Shebu. 44b);
#one who has been robbed must take an oath before he can recoverhis property (ib. 44b);
#one who asserts that he has been injured by another person must take an oath before he can recover damages (ib.);
#if a manager asserts that he has paid an employee, and the latter denies it, both parties take the oath, and the employer pays them both (ib);
#if a contract is falsified by the wife or by the creditor, they must each take an oath before they can receive payment (Ket. 87a);
#if an employer has only one witness to testify to the payment of a contract, the claimants must take an oath before they can receive their money (Ket. 97a);
#money due from the property of orphans may be paid only under oath (ib. 87a);
#the payment of debts from mortgaged property may be made only under oath (ib.);
#payment in the absence of the debtor may be made only under oath (ib.);
#liquidation of a debt by means of property dedicated to the sanctuary may be made only under oath (Shebu. 42b);
#expenses incurred in behalf of the wife's property may be recovered only under oath (Ket. 79b)
#if two parties each claim to have received the same piece of property at the same time, they must take oath to that effect (B. M. 2a);
#if one asserts that a piece of property entrusted to him has been stolen from him, he must take an oath to that effect (B. M. 34b);
#one who has unwittingly purchased stolen property must take an oath before he can recover his money (B. Ḳ. 114b);
#if one has unintentionally damaged the property of another, he must take an oath to that effect before he can be released from the payment of damages (B. M. 82b).
Other ordinances dating from the mishnaic period
Other ordinances dating from the mishnaic period were as follows: Ordinances relating to the Passover: (1) leaven must be sought with a light on the eve of the 13th of Nisan (Pes. 2a); (2) on Passover eve bitter herbs, mixed with "ḥaroset," must be eaten (ib. 120a); (3) four cups of wine must be drunk (ib. 99b); (4) those who partake must recline while eating, in token of freedom (ib.).
Miscellaneous ordinances: (1) if a Sabbath follows a holy day, an "'erub tabshilin" is made in order that food for the Sabbath may be prepared on the holy day (Beẓah 15b); (2) on the Sabbath and on holy days one may move freely within a radius of 2,000 cubits ('Er. 49b); (3) the owner of lost property must bring witnesses to testify that he is not dishonest, and he must then describe his property before he is entitled to recover it (B. M. 28b); (4) lost articles to be announced in the synagogue (ib. 28a).
The privilege of making new ordinances did not end with the completion of the
Mishnah: enactments were promulgated also in the Amoraic, Saboraic, and Geonic periods of Jewish law, although their exact dates are no longer known. Post-mishnaic ordinances which belong in this category are as follows:
#the dowry of a wife and the movables of orphans may be taken in payment of debt (comp. Mordecai onKet. 10; Maimonides, "Yad," Ishut, 15)
#movables may be attached for the dowry of orphan girls (Ṭur Eben ha-'Ezer, 112, 113)
#an oath is valid in cases involving real estate ("
Halakot Gedolot," xxii.
#no oath may be taken on the Bible ("Sha'are ẓedeḳ," v. 4, § 22)
#criminal cases may be tried in Babylon (ib. iv. 1, § 62)
#the property of orphans may be taken for the marriage portion of the wife ("Ḥemdah Genuzah," p. 60a)
#the debtor must take an oath if he is unable to pay (Ṭur Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ, 61, 2)
#the debtor must take an oath if he has obliged the creditor to do so (ib. 87)
#a widow is obliged to take an oath only in case the property bequeathed to her by her husband is insufficient to discharge her marriage contract ("Sha'are Ẓedeḳ," iv. 59)
#in legal trials both the principals and the witnesses must remain seated (Maimonides, "Yad," Sanhedrin, xxi. 5)
#Wine made by
Muslims wine is not "issur" (responsa, "Ge'onim Ḳadmonim," xlvi.)
#the priest to be the first one called up to the reading of the Law, he preceding even the nasi (Ṭur Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 135)
#permission to trade with Gentiles on their holy days (Ṭur Yoreh De'ah, 149)
#the fast-day on the Thirteenth of Adar (Abudarham, ed. Prague, p. 78d)
#an apostate may draw up a bill of divorce ("Ḥemdah Genuzah," li., lxxxvi.)
#if a Samaritan betroths a Jewess, she must have a bill of divorce before any one else can marry her (Ṭur Eben ha-'Ezer, 44)
#the passage Ex. xxxii. 11-14 must be read on fast-days ("Ḥemdah Genuzah," iv.; Masseket Soferim xvii.; Meg. 31b; Tosef., Ber. xix.)
#the interruption of the first and last three benedictions of the "Tefillah" by the supplications ("Ḥemdah Genuzah," cxii.; "Halakot Gedolot," p. 9a)
#the recitation of the morning benediction in the synagogue (Ṭur Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 46)
#the recitation of the prayer "Ahabah Rabbah" in the morning and of "Ahabat 'Olam" in the evening ("Ḥemdah Genuzah," cxxv.)
#the recitation of the Biblical passage "Praised be the Lord in eternity, Amen and Amen" (Ps. xli. 13) in the daily evening prayer before the "Tefillah" (Ṭur Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 236)
#the insertion of the passage I Chron. xxix. 10-13 in the morning prayer (ib. 51)
#the recitation of the "Shema'" in the "Ḳedushshah" (Abudarham, p. 53c)
#introduction of the prayer beginning with the words in the "Kedushshah" of the musaf, and the prayers beginning with the words and in the "Ḳedushshah" of the Shaḥarit Tefillah of Sabbath (Tur Orah hayyim, 221)
#the recitation of Ps. cxix. 142 at the Minḥah prayer on the Sabbath, in memory of the death of Moses (ib. 292)
#the benediction for the bridal night (Abudarham, p. 115a)
#"Parashat ha-Musafim" (Ṭur Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 283).
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