Halakha is often translated as "Jewish Law", although a more literal translation might be "the way to behave" or "the way of walking". The word derives from the root that means "to behave" (also "to go" or "to walk"). Halakha guides not only religious practices and beliefs, but also numerous aspects of day-to-day life.
Historically, in the Jewish diaspora, halakha served many Jewish communities as an enforceable avenue of law – both civil and religious, since no differentiation exists in classical Judaism. Since the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) and Jewish emancipation many have come to view the halakha as less binding in day-to-day life, as it relies on rabbinic interpretation, as opposed to the pure, written words recorded in the Hebrew Bible.
Under contemporary Israeli law, certain areas of Israeli family and personal status law are under the authority of the rabbinic courts, so are treated according to halakha. Some differences in halakha itself are found among Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Sephardi, Yemenite, and other Jews who historically lived in isolated communities, such as in Ethiopia, reflecting the historic and geographic diversity of various Jewish communities within the Diaspora.
The word halakha is derived from the Hebrew root halakh – "to walk" or "to go". Taken literally, therefore, halakha translates as "the way to walk" rather than "law". The word halakha refers to the corpus of rabbinic legal texts, or to the overall system of religious law.
The term may also be related to Akkadian ilku, a property tax, rendered in Aramaic as halakh, designating one or several obligations.