Crime and Punishment in Jewish Law: Essays and Responsa

By Walter Jacob; Moshe Zemer | Go to book overview

could never divorce her (Deut. 22.28). The Talmud increased the fine and included psychological damage (Ket. 29a).

Individuals above the age of maturity (12 for girls and 13 for boys) are considered responsible and may be punished as adults, but no capital punishment is permitted until the age of twenty ( Yad Hil. Genevah1.10).

If damage to property occurs due to the action of a minor, liability is incurred only if proper precautions have been taken by the owner (B. K. 29a, 55bff; Tur and Shulhan Arukh Hoshen Mishpat421).


Memorializing a Known Criminal

Contemporary American Reform Responsa (New York, 1987), ♯146

Walter Jacob

QUESTION: A man has approached the synagogue with the wish to provide a fund. Through it he would like to remember his deceased brother, who died in prison as a convicted felon. Is it permissible to place a plaque bearing this name or to name a fund after him? ( F. S., Chicago, Illinois)

ANSWER: The entire matter of memorial plaques has a dual history. On one hand, we have wished from the talmudic time onward to encourage gifts, yet we have tried to discourage boasts about such donations. The medieval Spanish scholar Solomon ben Adret ( Responsa #582) stated that it would be appropriate to list the name of the donor for two reasons and the Shulhan Arukh (Yoreh Deah 249.13) agreed: a) in order to recall the specific wishes of the donor so that the funds would not be diverted to another use; and b) to encourage other donors through the good example of that individual.

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