“For I say”: A keeper at the rabbinic gates of doubt

Michael Baris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The rabbinic idiom “for I say” has been construed philologically as a specific type of presumption, buttressed with first-person rhetoric. From the perspective of legal analysis, I contend that “for I say” and presumption are diametrically opposed decision-rules, employed consistently in tannaitic and amoraic literature. While presumptions are exclusionary rules, circumscribing doubt, “for I say” is an inclusionary rule, validating doubt. The versatility of the “for I say” rule testifies to its preliminary nature – while the outcome is determined by a robust set of primary decision rules. “For I say” should be read as: for I can say, legitimizing doubt and calling on primary rabbinic rules for treating cases of factual uncertainty, in contestable instances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-72
Number of pages17
JournalReview of Rabbinic Judaism
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2021


  • Factual uncertainty
  • Hazakah
  • Jewish law and jurisprudence
  • Legal fictions
  • Narrative
  • Talmudic law


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