Dr. Orit Malka

Areas of specialization:

Legal history, Jewish Law, Law in Late Antiquity, Talmudic Studies

Areas of competence:


I am a legal historian working on Jewish law. My research focuses on Talmudic and Biblical law and legal thought in its historical context. I am especially interested in the development of legal ideas, and the intellectual history of legal concepts and institutions in antiquity and late antiquity.

My doctoral dissertation, “a Set of Witness: Testimony and Political Thought in Tannaitic Halakha”, focused on the unique rules governing the admissibility and validity of testimony in Tannaitic sources (~200 CE). Through the study of these rules in light of their contemporary Near Eastern, Greek and Roman legal contexts, I have proposed a new understanding of the perception of witnesses in classical Jewish law. This perception differs from the modern approach to the role of witnesses in that it is not based on the probative value of testimony; rather it draws from an ancient legal notion of the witnesses as playing a constitutive role in creating legal obligations.

My current research is dedicated to the transformation that the distinction between witness and judge had undergone in the early history of Jewish law, and to the contribution that the research of Jewish law may have for understanding similar transformations in other late-antique legal regimes.

I pursued my PhD at the Zvi Meitar Center for Advanced Legal Studies, Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University. I am currently a Polonsky Fellow at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem.


  1. Orit Malka, “Disqualified Witnesses, Between Tannaitic Halakha and Roman Law:Archeology of a Legal Institute”, 37.4 Law and History Review pp. 903 -936 (2019).
  1. Orit Malka & Yakir Paz, “Ab Hostibus Captus et a Latronibus Captus: The Impact of the Roman Model of Citizenship on Rabbinic Law”, 109.2 Jewish Quarterly Review 141-172 (2019).
  2. Orit Malka, “On the Testimony of a Single Witness and that of Women in Tannaitic Literature” (Hebrew), forthcoming in 33 Dine Israel (2019)
  3. Orit Malka, “Testimony, Forewarning and Oath: from the Bible to the Rabbis” (Hebrew), forthcoming in 31 Te’uda (2020).
  4. Orit Malka & Yakir Paz, “A Rabbinic Postliminium: The Property of Captives in Tannaitic Halakha in Light of Roman Law”, in Legal Engagement: The Reception of Roman Law and Tribunals by Jews and Other Inhabitants of the Empire, Katell Berthelot, Natalie Dohrmann and Capucine Nemo-Pekelman eds., forthcoming (2020).