Since the 1970s, the phrase lifnim mi-shurat ha-din (lit. “within the line of the law”) has been at the center of debates over whether Jewish ethics is part of Jewish law (halakhah) or independent from it. Through an examination of classical rabbinic sources, this article proposes that lifnim mi-shurat ha-din is best understood not as a legal or ethical concept, but as a model of decision-making. Furthermore, it argues that this model of decision-making impacts both ethics and law, and therefore cannot clearly delineate the relationship between them. Instead, it suggests that reframing debates about ethics and law around the question of decision-making would allow scholars to more thickly describe rabbinic normativity and its significance for contemporary Jewish life.

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