‘Halacha’ is ‘the way’ of Judaism, based on millenia old oral tradition, translated into many forms: stories, law, traditions, values, arguments, responsa, and a general ‘language game’ or ‘way of life’
More narrowly conceived, it refers to ‘piskei halacha’ – the end of halacha – or its practical ramifications as expressed in various law codes such as Mishneh Torah, Shulchan Aruch and Mishna Berura. It is the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of a life that attempts to be lived in the presence of G-d. It is the rules ones abides by when trying to be part of the game.
Some people – left and right religiously – often talk about a halachic framework:
Those on the right often use it to forbid. Flexibility is only allowed within ‘the framework’ of halacha. There is a sausage machine out of which comes ‘the rules’ [as they currently are] and such a framework will produce rules that are good to follow. Codification is not an output of history, question and response, debate or a way of living; but its input. It is not just the rules that are prescriptive (with the codification describing those prescriptions as they stand) but the codification is itself prescriptive.
Those on the left believe there are values which ones seeks to achieve, but as one is a religious Jew, one [is limited to?][aided by?] doing it within the framework. There are no fixed boundaries and no sausage machine. Rather as a ‘framework’; it provide a general way a Jew does things. Rather than forbidding, one navigates the form and technicalities of the game to do something new.
I find this way of talking about things odd though – talking about the game from the outside-in. It is as if I was a ‘right wing’ chess player I were to unprompted say:
- “I am going to moving my bishop and I am doing so within the framework of the game of chess” [Well, duh, we are in the middle of a chess game, so “I am moving the bishop” will suffice were it be necessary to comment at all]
- “By applying the rules in the rulebook to the pieces on the board, I should move my bishop diagonally – that is a good move.” [No doubt I am following the rules of chess, but that doesn’t require any view of its necessity or extrinsic goodness of the move considered outside of what I am trying to achieve in so moving]
Or, if I were a ‘left-wing’ chess player:
- “Check-mating the opponent is a good thing to do but because I’m bought into the rules of chess, I’m limited to achieving that through traditional chess moves, such as the diagonal bishop-move” [Do you think the end-state of chess is completely stateable outside the rules of chess, which are just aids or impediments to that goal? I’d probably think you weren’t actually that interested in chess itself]
- “The framework of chess has had different rules for bishops that have changed over time – so I’m going to play a move codified in 13th century Italy” [Quite possibly that is within the framework of chess, but you if you moved your piece in that way, you may find yourself playing a different game to your opponent]
It is not that either is wrong – just weird.
From the outside one might want to write a philosophy of chess, a love poem to chess, a history of chess, a political analysis of chess within authoritarian regimes. A meta-chess analysis if you will. All useful endeavours.
However, if someone challenges you to a game of chess, you may not want to play a game within the framework of chess, you may just want to play chess.