The Law has long been a concept in Jewish thought and practice, as was famously articulated in the early 20th century by Franz Kafka’s parable “Before the Law.” Kafka later included the parable in his novel The Trial, published posthumously in 1925. This semester, students in religion professor Jeffrey Israel’s course Judaism: Before the Law are being introduced to the academic study of Judaism through Kafka’s parable, hoping to understand concepts including the rabbinic distinction between “Oral Law” and “Written Law,” medieval philosophical justifications for the Law, and modern interpretations of the Law as Moral Law. Read more about Israel’s course at