Please explain the idea of oral tradition or oral torah from Jewish perspective


What? The “ten” commandments were in stone, but the rest of the Torah was written by Moses - the latter is the oral law (or tradition)?


What Christians call the ‘Old Testament’ = Tanakh
First five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) = Torah
Ancient commentary/interpretation/tradition (Mishnah & Gemara) = Oral Torah/Talmud


Just to add, Tanakh = Torah (teaching/law)/Nevi’im (prophets)/Ketuvim (writings)


According to Jewish tradition, the Oral Torah was passed down orally in an unbroken chain from generation to generation until its contents were finally committed to writing following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, when Jewish civilization was faced with an existential threat.[1][ clarification needed ]

The major repositories of the Oral Torah are the Mishnah , compiled between 200–220 CE by Rabbi Yehudah haNasi, and the Gemara , a series of running commentaries and debates concerning the Mishnah, which together are the Talmud , the preeminent text of Rabbinic Judaism. In fact, two “versions” of the Talmud exist: one produced in Jerusalem c. 300–350 CE (the Jerusalem Talmud), and second, more extensive Talmud compiled in Babylonia and published c. 450–500 CE (the Babylonian Talmud).

Belief that at least portions of the Oral Torah were transmitted orally from God to Moses on Mount Sinai during the Exodus from Egypt is a fundamental tenet of faith of Orthodox Judaism, and was recognized as one of the Thirteen Principles of Faith by Maimonides. However, not all branches of Rabbinic Judaism accept the literal Sinaitic provenance of the Oral Torah, characterizing it as the product of a historical process of continuing interpretation.

There have also been historical dissenters to the Oral Torah in its entirety, including adherents to Karaite Judaism, who attempt to derive their religious practice strictly from the Written Torah, using Scripture’s most natural meaning to form their basis of Jewish law. Karaities often look to traditions of interpretation but, unlike Rabbinic Jews, do not ascribe to those traditions an ontological parity with the Written Torah


Question back to you between the Jersuleum talmud and Babylonian Talmud which one is more studied? For it’ accuracy?

The word Talmud itself is often defined as “instruction”.[3] Both versions of the Talmud comprise two parts, the Mishnah (of which there is only one version), which was finalized by Judah the Prince around the year 200 CE, and either the Babylonian or the Jerusalem Gemara . The Gemara is what differentiates the Jerusalem Talmud from its Babylonian counterpart.


From the preceding responses I take it that the Oral Torah has nothing to do with the TANAKH, they are separate documents? Thanks to all, I never know where the line was drawn. My reading of Jewish sources is that the Talmud (short for Talmud Torah, “the study of the Torah”) is considered inspired and it is referred to more often than the Tanakh itself. I understand that there is some movement to spend more time on the TANAKH . And, certainly, the Torah is read in the synagogues on a one-year cycle along with the Haftarot selection.


Not entirely. While the Talmud is not the Tanakh, the former is used to elucidate the latter and fill in the details, particularly as they apply to successively modern generations. Also, sometimes the word Talmud is used to mean only the Gemara, thus there is the Mishnah and the Talmud. Other times, Talmud is taken as the combined Mishnah and Gemara.

A Good Year to all at the start of this Rosh Hashanah!


Good reply and Shana Tova U’Metukah!

Rosh Hashanah 2018 will begin at sundown on Sunday, Sept. 9, and will continue through nightfall on Tuesday, Sept. 11


The Babylonian Talmud (also called Talmud Bavli) is the more comprehensive work. Because it was redacted at a later date, we view it as having taken into consideration the rulings of the Jerusalem Talmud, and therefore the Bavli is more authoritative and by far the most studied. Study of the Jerusalem Talmud is, in yeshiva circles, considered a more esoteric field. It’s also written in a terse and difficult style compared to the Bavli.

The Talmud includes in it extensive discussion and analysis of Tanakh verses, and since you need to refer to the Talmud to know practical law, it is studied much more than Tanakh. It’s kind of like how you could say in a broad sense that all American law is derived from or gets legitimacy from the Constitution, but the specific branches of law are much bigger topics of study than the Constitution. The Talmud, though, definitely does not have the same level of sanctity as Tanakh/Scripture.



The Talmud represents the written record of an oral tradition. It became the basis for many rabbinic legal codes and customs, most importantly for the Mishneh Torah and for the Shulchan Aruch. Orthodox and, to a lesser extent, Conservative Judaism accepts the Talmud as authoritative, while Samaritan, Karaite, Reconstructionist, and Reform Judaism do not.


So question?

Karaites maintain that all of the divine commandments handed down to Moses by God were recorded in the written Torah without additional Oral Law or explanation. As a result, Karaite Jews do not accept as binding the written collections of the oral tradition in the Midrash or Talmud. Wikipedia

Where does this hold with the reform? What is the differences between these two movements in Judaism?


Mishneh Torah still carries significant canonical authority as a codification of Talmudic law.

Interesting, on the " The Guide for the Perplexed", The two books are so profoundly unlike one
another. The Mishneh Torah is all law, whereas the Guide is entirely
a world of thought.


This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit