# Following 'the spirit of the law' vs 'the letter of the law'

My question has several parts, and I'd love to hear your thoughts for all parts:

1. What are the responsibilities of a Jew regarding the following of laws in general?

2. Is it permissable to follow the letter of the law, or is one also obliged to follow the spirit of the law?

3. Is it acceptable to find a clever valid argument to circumvent a legal-but-inconvenient restriction, if is somewhat distorts the original intention of the law?

4. Does the answer change in these categories?

• Laws given by hashem
• Traditions enshrined in common practice by ancient rabbis
• The current modern laws of your country
• You've applied the choshen-mishpat-civil-law tag: do you mean to ask only about civil law and torts and not about criminal law or isur v'heter? – msh210 May 15 '11 at 13:18
• Welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for the very important question! – Isaac Moses May 15 '11 at 16:01
• I'd like to add: 2b. Is it permissible to follow the spirit of the law, or is one also obliged to follow the letter of the law? – Shmuel Apr 25 '14 at 20:50