Tal­mu­dic, civil law sim­i­lar, rabbi says

His course com­par­ing le­gal sys­tems has turned out to be ‘ an eye-opener’

Montreal Gazette - - Business - KATHRYN LEGER

lit­i­ga­tor Barry Landy ex­plained, there is a dif­fer­ent but sim­i­lar pro­vi­sion for un­di­vided own­er­ship when more than one per­son owns a prop­erty (other than a condo). Any co-owner of an un­di­vided prop­erty, within 60 days of learn­ing that his or her share was sold to some­one else, has the right to buy out that per­son.

“We have our own con­cept of so­cial jus­tice (in Que­bec) be­cause, ac­cord­ing to the Civil Code, ev­ery­body has to per­form their obli­ga­tions in good faith, and there are all kinds of pro­vi­sions where neigh­bours have du­ties to each other,” Landy said.

While the Tal­mu­dic com­par­i­son may seem es­o­teric, Jeff Oren­stein, an Oren­stein and As­so­ci­ates lit­i­ga­tor, said learn­ing other le­gal con­cepts “broad­ens your ideas and your foun­da­tion of law.”

“If you read the Civil Code, it doesn’t mean any­thing un­less you un­der­stand the con­cepts be­hind it, which goes back to Ro­man law and was in­flu­enced by a lot of le­gal sys­tems. The more you learn, the more you un­der­stand your own le­gal sys­tem,” Oren­stein said.

“It is amaz­ing to think that a sys­tem that was cre­ated al­most 2,000 years ago would, gen­er­ally speak­ing, have the same kind of so­lu­tions to par­tic­u­lar prob­lems that we have al­most 2,000 years later,” said Yoine Gold­stein, a McMil­lan LLP in­sol­vency spe­cial­ist and com­par­a­tive law afi­cionado who at­tended some of the ses­sions.

“The Tal­mud does not enun­ci­ate prin­ci­ples like the Civil Code does,” Gold­stein said. “It gives very spe­cific ex­am­ples and points out what var­i­ous rab­binic au­thor­i­ties have said about the is­sue in the hope and ex­pec­ta­tion that one can ex­trap­o­late and then ap­ply to other sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions. Our sys­tem of (civil) law goes from the gen­eral to the spe­cific. You have an enun­ci­a­tion of the prin­ci­ples, but no spe­cific cases and the as­sump­tion is you ap­ply those prin­ci­ples to spe­cific sit­u­a­tions, so it makes for a very in­ter­est­ing study of dif­fer­ent le­gal sys­tems.”

Other lawyers tak­ing the chal­lenge of giv­ing pre­sen­ta­tions to more than 75 lawyers at­tend­ing in­cluded clas­s­ac­tion lawyer Ir­win I. Lieb­man of Lieb­man and As­so­ci­ates; Stike­man El­liott LLP’s Pa­trick Es­siminy, an em­ploy­ment and labour law spe­cial­ist; Mor­timer G. Frei­heit, a lit­i­ga­tor spe­cial­iz­ing in rep­re­sent­ing fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions; and Mark Potechin, a tax lawyer with Phillips Fried­man Kotler LLP.

More com­par­a­tive dis­cov­er­ies of sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences will be forth­com­ing, Kras­nan­ski said. A full list of the other con­tin­u­ing le­gal ed­u­ca­tion cour­ses for lawyers is avail­able at: www.bar­reau.qc.ca/reg­istre­ac­tivites-re­con­nues If you have any in­for­ma­tion to share about the le­gal com­mu­nity, send i t to strict­lyle­[email protected]

Moshe Kras­nan­ski is not a lawyer, but he knows plenty about dif­fer­ent con­cepts of law, notably Jewish civil law – the mul­ti­ple life­gov­ern­ing facets of the Tal­mud, the mas­sive com­pi­la­tion of oral teach­ings in writ­ten form and com­men­taries on them that is the cen­tral text for main­stream Ju­daism.

Be­fore be­ing or­dained in his na­tive New York as a rabbi – by an­other rabbi who, as per tra­di­tion, was or­dained by an­other rabbi be­fore him and so on gen­er­a­tions back – he spent the bet­ter part of each day for 10 years study­ing the Tal­mud.

The learn­ing con­tin­ues, and now Kras­nan­ski is tak­ing his ded­i­ca­tion to im­part­ing how ev­ery as­pect of daily life is in­fused by that doc­trine to a new level by or­ches­trat­ing the teach­ing of a spe­cial course that com­pares an­cient Tal­mu­dic texts with Que­bec civil law.

This week, Kras­nan­ski wrapped up the first se­ries of six such com­par­a­tive ses­sions on top­ics rang­ing from busi­ness ethics and prop­erty rights to em­ploy­ment prac­tices. He works out of the com­mu­nity cen­tre Chabad of the Town (Town of Mount Royal), where he is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

“It was an eye-opener for me,” said Kras­nan­ski, who taught and de­signed teach­ing pro­grams in the United States be­fore mov­ing here 15 years ago. “Civil law is in many ways much closer to a lot of the Jewish law than com­mon law (the le­gal sys­tem in the U.S. and else­where in Canada).”

Kras­nan­ski ob­tained ap­proval from the Que­bec Bar to of­fer the course for cred­its un­der its manda­tory con­tin­u­ing le­gal ed­u­ca­tion (CLE) pro­gram that, since April of last year, re­quires that Que­bec lawyers ob­tain 30 CLE cred­its each two years.

Build­ing on a CLE course of­fered through the world­wide Jewish Learn­ing In­sti­tute in many U.S. states and in Bri­tish Columbia – ju­ris­dic­tions where the com­mon law tra­di­tion pre­vails – Kras­nan­ski re­cruited lo­cal lawyers from big and small Montreal law firms to look at Tal­mu­dic in­ter­pre­ta­tions of rights and wrongs de­fined by rab­bis – in most cases a few hun­dred years ago – and ex­plain to par­tic­i­pants how the same is­sues might legally play out un­der the Que­bec Civil Code.

Take the case of rights if a neigh­bour­ing prop­erty was sold.

Un­der Tal­mu­dic le­gal tra­di­tion, the neigh­bour next door would have the right to buy the prop­erty if it was sold to some­one else, an in­her­ent con­cept of so­cial jus­tice, the rabbi said.

Un­der the Que­bec Civil Code, Spiegel Sohmer LLP

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