Oral Torah

The Oral Torah comprises the legal and interpretative traditions that, according to tradition, were transmitted orally from Mount Sinai, and were not written in the Torah. According to Rabbinic Judaism, the oral Torah, oral Law, or oral tradition (Hebrew: תורה שבעל פה, Torah she-be-`al peh) was given by God orally to Moses in conjunction with the written Torah (Hebrew: תורה שבכתב, Torah she-bi-khtav), after which it was passed down orally through the ages. Later to be codified and written in the Talmud (Hebrew :תַּלְמוּד ). While other cultures and Jewish groups maintained oral traditions, only the Rabbis gave ideological significance to the fact that they transmitted their tradition orally.

Rabbis of the Talmudic era conceived of the Oral Torah in two distinct ways. First, Rabbinic tradition conceived of the Oral Torah as an unbroken chain of transmission. The distinctive feature of this view was that Oral Torah was "conveyed by word of mouth and memorized." Second, the Rabbis also conceived of the Oral Torah as an interpretive tradition, and not merely as memorized traditions. In this view, the written Torah was seen as containing many levels of interpretation. It was left to later generations, who were steeped in the oral tradition of interpretation to discover those ("hidden") interpretations not revealed by Moses. According to many, the "oral Torah" was ultimately recorded in the Mishnah, the Talmud and Midrash. In his introduction to Mishneh Torah Maimonides provides a generation by generation account of the names of all those in the direct line that transmitted this tradition, beginning with Moses up until Ravina and Rav Ashi, the rabbis who compiled the Babylonian Talmud.

Read more about Oral Torah:  Existence and Usage

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