SEFER ḤUKKEI HA-TORAH (Heb. סֵפֶר חֻקֵּי הַתּוֹרָה; "The Book of the Laws of the Torah"), one of the earliest and most detailed treatises in Hebrew in the fields of education and educational ethics. This short work, dealing with the problems of education at its various levels, describes the first level, midrash katan, a community school, and the later one, midrash gadol, a yeshivah, to which, according to the book, every community should send a quota of its children. In the midrash gadol, the students, who study and live with their teachers, somewhat monastically, are forbidden to marry or communicate with society until they conclude their studies. Sefer Ḥukkei ha-Torah is found in manuscript Bodleiana Neubauer, Cat, 1 (1886), 181, no. 873, 2b. It was first published in Guedemann's Ha-Torah ve-ha-Ḥayyim (see bibl.).

The date, provenance, and purpose of this work are not known. Nor is it known whether this system was practiced in any Jewish community, or whether it is simply a utopian suggestion. Any similarity which various scholars have attempted to uncover between practices described in Sefer Ḥukkei ha-Torah and those which existed in Babylonia, France, or England has not been satisfactorily proven.


M. Guedemann, Ha-Torah ve-ha-Ḥayyim, 1 (1896), 73–80, 217–9; Ish-Shalom (Friedmann), in: Beit Talmud, 1 (1881), 61f., 91–4; Loeb, in: REJ, 1 (1881), 159f.; D. Kaufmann, in: Goettinger gelehrte Anzeigen (1881), 1640–64; reprinted in his Gesammelte Schriften, 2 (1910), 208–15; Assaf, Mekorot, 1 (1925), 6–12; J. Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England (1893), 243–51.

[Joseph Dan]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.