What do we know when we know the law? I asked a rabbi I know how he would answer that question with respect to Jewish law. Does someone know the law when he can repeat the rules that tell him what to do? Or when he can engage in the activity of reading them, separately or in conjunction with each other, and applying them sensibly to new circumstances? Is even that enough? My friend said it was not: he must know who he is in relation to the law, both as an individual and as a member of a people; this means that he must know that this law is part of a covenant with the God of Israel, and he must understand the story that connects that God with this people. In particular he must recognize that this law was given to the Hebrew people just after their escape from slavery, at the moment when they attained the free and autonomous state that made them capable of receiving the simultaneous gift and restraint of law. Sketchy and incomplete as these remarks are, I want to take them as a model of a certain kind of legal knowledge.
White, James Boyd. "Legal Knowledge." Harv. L. Rev. 115, no. 5 (2002): 1396-431.