Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oral Tradition

The Oral Torah or Oral Law (Hebrew: תורה שבעל פה, Torah she-be-`al peh), according to Rabbinic Judaism, is an oral tradition received in conjunction with the written Torah (and the rest of the Hebrew Bible), which is known in this context as the "Written Torah" (Hebrew: תורה שבכתב, Torah she-bi-khtav). The traditions of the Oral Torah are believed to be the same as those recorded in the Mishnah and Talmud during the 2nd-5th centuries CE.

According to classical Judaism and the tenets of Orthodox Judaism, Moses and the Jews at Mount Sinai received an Oral as well as a written Torah ("teaching") from God. The books of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) were relayed with an oral tradition passed on by the scholarly and other religious leaders of each generation, and according to classical Rabbinic interpretation, the teachings of the Oral Law are a guide to that interpretation of the Written Law which is considered the authoritative reading. Jewish law and tradition thus is not based on a strictly literal reading of the Tanakh, but on combined oral and written traditions. Further, the basis of halakha (הלכה, (nf. law, rule, dogma; theory; Jewish religious laws) includes the premise that the Written Law is inherently bound together with an Oral Law.

The "Oral Law" was ultimately recorded in the Talmud and Midrash.


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