There is no Torah without Oral Torah

Open Heart

Well-known member
This post is meant to be a helpful discussion for Christians who don't understand why "Bible Only" doesn't work. I realize that the majority of Christians in the world, who include the Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican communities, do not go by the Protestant dogma of Sola Scriptura. However, I have found that the vast majority of Christians who post here in Carm are Protestant (meaning they believe in the 5 solas, i.e. sola scriptura and sola fide). For such, the idea of giving religious authority "to men" outside of the sacred texts can seem ridiculous, unthinkable. I hope this article will help them understand better why Jews have an oral tradition, contained in the Talmud, although I'm sure I will not convince anyone already comfortable in their beliefs.

Let me begin by saying that all law must be interpreted, whether it is God's law or civil law. In the US we have what is called case law. IOW, the laws that are passed by our government are not always clear in unique circumstances, and must be interpreted by how cases are won and lost in the courts. For example, Brown v. the Board of Education establishes that racial segregation cannot take place in the schools. It is not a "new law." It is an interpretation of the existing constitution.

In the same way, Oral Torah (which was eventually written up as the Talmud) contains a lot of case law, etc. The PRIMARY purpose of the Talmud is to make obedience to the Written Torah possible. Yes, these interpretations are given by men, but these men have been given their authority by God, and are not to be questioned.

Deuteronomy 17:8-13
8 If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—take them to the place the Lord your God will choose. 9 Go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. 10 You must act according to the decisions they you at the place the Lord will choose. Be careful to do everything they instruct you to do. 11 Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left. 12 Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the Lord your God is to be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. 13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.

This verse completely demolishes the idea of sola scriptura. The Written Torah by itself can't work -- cases WILL arise where the answer is not obvious. Interpetation is needed in order for obedience to be possible. Allow me to give two examples.

The Torah says to rest from work on the seventh day, but it does not spell out what work is. This is made abundantly clear by the fact that even Christians cannot agree what it means. Some Chrisitan sabbath keepers believe it only means not going to work and getting paycheck. Others say it includes uncecessary work around the house like mowing your yard.

I have heard Christians say it should be up to the individual how they understand "work." The problem with that is that Israel functions as a people, especially back in time when the Torah functioned as the law of the land. You couldn't have one Jew say, "work means doing the dishes" and another Jew saying "work does NOT mean doing the dishes." Why? Because violating the sabbath was a CRIME, and so everyone had to agree what was and was not a violation of the sabbath.

And so the levites and sanhedrin (the seventy elders appointed by Moses and their successors) ruled on what was work. They saw that God stopped all work on the tabernacle on the shabbat. They examined all the labor that was involved in building the tabernacle from beginning to end, and divided those labors into 39 categories. These 39 Melachot (labors) are now the standard for what is forbidden on the Shabbat. You can examine them here: https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/102032/jewish/The-39-Melachot.htm

Even the interpretations have to be interpreted. For example, just how far can you walk before it is work? Again, there must be agreement in order for violations to be prosecuted. There were elements of interpretation that were still being argued even in the day of Jesus. If you are hungry, and pick only to satiate your hunger, is that harvesting? One thing is very certain -- LIFE comes first. If someone's life is at stake, we are actually required to break the sabbath to save it. This is why, for example, it is okay for Jewish doctors to work in hospitals on the Sabbath.


Moving to my second example now: Shechita (the lawful slaughter of animals for meat). Deuteronomy 12:21 states … "you may slaughter of your cattle and of your sheep, which the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you....” These words indicate that God commanded that meat be slaughtered a particular way, but whatever this way is, it is not recorded in the written Torah. And you can't just ignore the fact that God gave a command, not if you are trying to be obedient. This manner of slaughter was, rather, passed on orally.

I won't go into the details of shechita, excpet to say that the shochet, or slaughterer, is highly trained. A sharp knife is used to sever the trachea and esophagus in one quick slice. The animal looses blood so quickly that they are unconscious in a matter of seconds, minimizing the pain and suffering of the animal. IOW shechita is designed to be the most compassionate way to slaughter.

But we wouldn't know what it is, without Oral Torah.


Now, I'd like to move into the next section, in which I will discuss Jesus' attitudes towards Oral Torah.

Matthew 23:1-3
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

From this verse we can gather two important points.
1. The Pharisees sit on Moses seat, meaning that they have that God-given authority to interpret Law that was given to the seventy elders and described above in Deuteronomy 17:8-13. Jesus does not do away with this authority. Rather he underscores it.
2. Do everything they tell you. Well, they tell us the Oral Torah in addition to the Written Torah. By saying "everything," Jesus is directing his followers to obey their teaching of the Oral Torah.



Matthew 23:23
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

In this passage, Jesus instructs the Pharisees to obey BOTH the the Written Torah AND the Oral Torah (the spice tax). The words "without neglecting the former" refers to the spice tax, which was an Oral understanding of the tithe laws.

Mattehw 23:5
Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;

Deuteronomy 11:18
Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

In this Matthew passage, Jesus criticises the Pharisees for being ostentatious in their choice of Tefillin (the boxes containing scriptures from the Torah that are bound on the forehead and arm during prayers). But notice he never says to stop using Tefillin. Jesus accepted the Oral understanding of Deuteronomy 11:18.



Mark 7:1-2
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed.

In this passage, the Pharisees confront Jesus about the fact that some of his disciples are not washing their hands before eating. But notice that the Pharisees do not confront JESUS for it. Obviously, Jesus himself washed his hands. I think that this particular tradition was still in its infancy, still being debated, so that there were Jews who observed it, and Jews who did not. Jesus chose to observe it, even though it is not found in the Written Torah, but only in Oral Torah.



In summary, we have seen instances where Jesus himself observed Oral Torah, and taught both the Pharisees and his followers to observe Oral Torah. We have learned that having an Oral tradition is commanded by God himself. We have learned that such interpretations exist in order to make keeping the Written Torah possible. It's all something that Bible Only Christians should consider. Thank you for listening.
 

Yahchristian

Well-known member
We have learned that having an Oral tradition is commanded by God himself.

Did God actually command for there to be an Oral tradition?

Or is that just a legend that is part of the Oral tradition?

In other words, was it HISTORICAL or was it LEGEND that God said there should be Oral tradition?
 

Open Heart

Well-known member
Did God actually command for there to be an Oral tradition?

Or is that just a legend that is part of the Oral tradition?

In other words, was it HISTORICAL or was it LEGEND that God said there should be Oral tradition?
I'm not going to keep answering you. You already know how I see this.
 

Yahchristian

Well-known member
I'm not going to keep answering you. You already know how I see this.

It would be better if you would just answer the question.

But from your previous comments, I think you would say...

There is an oral tradition that God commanded there to be oral tradition.

But God never actually / historically made that command.

Correct me if I miscalculated your answer.
 

Open Heart

Well-known member
It would be better if you would just answer the question.

But from your previous comments, I think you would say...

There is an oral tradition that God commanded there to be oral tradition.

But God never actually / historically made that command.

Correct me if I miscalculated your answer.
Why not address the opening post?
 

Yahchristian

Well-known member
Why not address the opening post?

In your opening post you state...

“The PRIMARY purpose of the Talmud is to make obedience to the Written Torah possible. Yes, these interpretations are given by men, but these men have been given their authority by God, and are not to be questioned.”

How do you know “these men have been given their authority by God”?

Was there a historical statement by God or is it just a mythical idea?
 

Open Heart

Well-known member
In your opening post you state...

“The PRIMARY purpose of the Talmud is to make obedience to the Written Torah possible. Yes, these interpretations are given by men, but these men have been given their authority by God, and are not to be questioned.”

How do you know “these men have been given their authority by God”?

Was there a historical statement by God or is it just a mythical idea?
I already gave you the scripture upon which it is based. Forget what I think for a moment. What do YOU think -- do YOU accept that scripture as the word of God?
 

American Gothic

Active member
Moving to my second example now: Shechita (the lawful slaughter of animals for meat). Deuteronomy 12:21 states … "you may slaughter of your cattle and of your sheep, which the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you....” These words indicate that God commanded that meat be slaughtered a particular way, but whatever this way is, it is not recorded in the written Torah. And you can't just ignore the fact that God gave a command, not if you are trying to be obedient. This manner of slaughter was, rather, passed on orally.
So the priests developed certain ways of doing their duties that were passed down, and the judges and court kept records of judicial decisions and precedent,

what does this have to do with the common people?
what would "but do not do according to their takkanot" mean?
 

Open Heart

Well-known member
So the priests developed certain ways of doing their duties that were passed down, and the judges and court kept records of judicial decisions and precedent,

what does this have to do with the common people?
what would "but do not do according to their takkanot" mean?
I tried googling this, to get the verse, but nothing came up. You're going to have to do what you should have done the first time around, and cite the book, chapter, and verse.

What does this have to do with the common people? Read the passage again, Deut 17:8-13. It's all about the common people obeying the interpretations of these men, and obeying without question.
 

tbeachhead

Well-known member
I have a couple of comments...

The folks who sit in religious authority carry a lot of weight, and those who teach bear all the more responsibility. Jesus was issuing a warning when He spoke of what you call "oral tradition," and He did not ascribe the infallibility of scripture to "oral tradition."

Read this carefully, from Matthew 23: "2“The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So practice and observe everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, burdensome loads and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.…" They sit in the seat of Moses, and are not inspired, though authority is ascribed to them.

Caiaphas rightly prophesied Jesus' purpose, because he sat in the office of the High Priest.

But Jesus also spoke clearly on the dangers of invented oral tradition, and in this, you're accepting the same guilt on your pronouncements as are rightly recognized in all the error of the Pope and the papal religion. Here's what He said, "13Thus you nullify the word of God by the tradition you have handed down. And you do so in many such matters.” Do you suggest that it's acceptable to nullify the Word of God in favor of Oral Traditions? Or are you saying that those who claim to be sitting in "the seat of Moses" can make no error?
 

Open Heart

Well-known member
I have a couple of comments...

The folks who sit in religious authority carry a lot of weight, and those who teach bear all the more responsibility. Jesus was issuing a warning when He spoke of what you call "oral tradition," and He did not ascribe the infallibility of scripture to "oral tradition."

Read this carefully, from Matthew 23: "2“The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So practice and observe everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, burdensome loads and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.…" They sit in the seat of Moses, and are not inspired, though authority is ascribed to them.

Caiaphas rightly prophesied Jesus' purpose, because he sat in the office of the High Priest.

But Jesus also spoke clearly on the dangers of invented oral tradition, and in this, you're accepting the same guilt on your pronouncements as are rightly recognized in all the error of the Pope and the papal religion. Here's what He said, "13Thus you nullify the word of God by the tradition you have handed down. And you do so in many such matters.” Do you suggest that it's acceptable to nullify the Word of God in favor of Oral Traditions? Or are you saying that those who claim to be sitting in "the seat of Moses" can make no error?
In Matthew 23:1-2, Jesus commands his followers to obey the Pharisees in EVERYTHING they teach, which includes oral torah. In Matthew 23:23, he tells the Pharisees to keep as essence of the written torah AS WELL AS the oral torah (the spice tax).

any comments you make on Jesus' comment about traditions HAS to gel with those things he said in Matthew 23.
 

tbeachhead

Well-known member
In Matthew 23:1-2, Jesus commands his followers to obey the Pharisees in EVERYTHING they teach, which includes oral torah. In Matthew 23:23, he tells the Pharisees to keep as essence of the written torah AS WELL AS the oral torah (the spice tax).

any comments you make on Jesus' comment about traditions HAS to gel with those things he said in Matthew 23.
You might want to re-read what I said...because I quoted the entirety in context. "They sit in the seat of Moses..." He told his disciples to obey.

And he excoriated those who sit in the seat of Moses for:
  1. Placing burdens that they themselves refused to bear.
  2. Teaching as doctrine the traditions of man (As Isaiah clearly foretold).
  3. Nullifying the Word in favor of their traditions.
The seat of Moses is not without error and penalty. And error is never accepted as truth, despite the willingness of the errant to enforce it on those whose souls have been placed in their charge.

You have accepted as doctrine the errors of traditions that nullify the word of God.
 

Bob Dobbalina

Active member
There is little that is more appealing to the lazy scholar than that scripture which can be interpreted, however feebly and error-riddled, as an appeal to surrender logic and reason to the surety of authority.
In other words, it matters not the error as long as you cling tightly to your Babylonian traditions, you can stay afloat with the rest of the thoughtless minions.
Does anyone that is reading/posting on this thread claim that they’re even able to keep all 613 laws? If not, at what temple do you slaughter your sacrificial animals?
 

Open Heart

Well-known member
You might want to re-read what I said...because I quoted the entirety in context. "They sit in the seat of Moses..." He told his disciples to obey.
Jesus went after the pharisees (or at least some of them) for hypocrisy -- not doing what they preached. But as I said, he commanded his followers to do EVERYTHING they taught, which would have included the oral torah. You say above "He told his disciples to obey." Yes. Obey EVERYTHING. I don't know why you are aguing futher (I erased it since it was irrelevant). The matter is pretty much settled by these verses.
 

tbeachhead

Well-known member
Jesus went after the pharisees (or at least some of them) for hypocrisy -- not doing what they preached. But as I said, he commanded his followers to do EVERYTHING they taught, which would have included the oral torah. You say above "He told his disciples to obey." Yes. Obey EVERYTHING. I don't know why you are aguing futher (I erased it since it was irrelevant). The matter is pretty much settled by these verses.
Try to understand why...because you're missing the point. These were the reasons he went after the scribes and the pharisees:

1. Placing burdens that they themselves refused to bear.
2. Teaching as doctrine the traditions of man (As Isaiah clearly foretold).
3. Nullifying the Word in favor of their traditions.

You addressed the first point only.

The two last points address the fallacy you've swallowed. Isaiah did not give license to teach as doctrine the traditions of man. He went after the false teachers of that day who were laying the groundwork for the false doctrine you've accepted as true.

The third is more egregious, the result and fruit of number 2. You nullify the Word of God in favor of your traditions...and delight yourself in the antiquity of your false doctrine, as if falsehood were undone by antiquity alone. It's not because the Jews you joined were wrong two thousand years ago, and continue to be wrong...that they're suddenly made right by weight of years.
 

Open Heart

Well-known member
Try to understand why...because you're missing the point. These were the reasons he went after the scribes and the pharisees:

1. Placing burdens that they themselves refused to bear.
2. Teaching as doctrine the traditions of man (As Isaiah clearly foretold).
3. Nullifying the Word in favor of their traditions.

You addressed the first point only.

The two last points address the fallacy you've swallowed. Isaiah did not give license to teach as doctrine the traditions of man. He went after the false teachers of that day who were laying the groundwork for the false doctrine you've accepted as true.

The third is more egregious, the result and fruit of number 2. You nullify the Word of God in favor of your traditions...and delight yourself in the antiquity of your false doctrine, as if falsehood were undone by antiquity alone. It's not because the Jews you joined were wrong two thousand years ago, and continue to be wrong...that they're suddenly made right by weight of years.
You just can't respond to the verses I've given. Very telling.
 

tbeachhead

Well-known member
You just can't respond to the verses I've given. Very telling.
Very telling? How very condescending.

And you missed it again?

Here's Matthew 23:2 “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So practice and observe everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, burdensome loadsa and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5All their deeds are done for men to see. They broaden their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 6They love the places of honor at banquets, the chief seats in the synagogues, 7the greetings in the marketplaces, and the title of ‘Rabbi’ by which they are addressed.
"

I said, "Try to understand why...because you're missing the point. These were the reasons he went after the scribes and the pharisees:

1. Placing burdens that they themselves refused to bear. (Matthew 23)
2. Teaching as doctrine the traditions of man (As Isaiah clearly foretold). (Matthew 15:9 Jesus quoting Isaiah 29:13) 8‘These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. 9 They worship Me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men.’” 10Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen and understand.…
3. Nullifying the Word in favor of their traditions. (Mark 7:13) 13Thus you nullify the word of God by the tradition you have handed down. And you do so in many such matters.”

So how do you make the claim that I did not address your single verse? I supported your point and expanded...you do not want to miss the weaknesses, dangers and pitfalls of oral traditions. They are not all inspired as scripture is inspired and proves their weaknesses when misapplied...You have fallen into the trap for which the Jews were all forewarned, first by Isaiah and then by the Messiah Himself, whom tradition was instructed to reject, according to the prophets' own warning.
 

Open Heart

Well-known member
Very telling? How very condescending.

And you missed it again?

Here's Matthew 23:2 “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So practice and observe everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, burdensome loadsa and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5All their deeds are done for men to see. They broaden their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 6They love the places of honor at banquets, the chief seats in the synagogues, 7the greetings in the marketplaces, and the title of ‘Rabbi’ by which they are addressed.
"

I said, "Try to understand why...because you're missing the point. These were the reasons he went after the scribes and the pharisees:

1. Placing burdens that they themselves refused to bear. (Matthew 23)
2. Teaching as doctrine the traditions of man (As Isaiah clearly foretold). (Matthew 15:9 Jesus quoting Isaiah 29:13) 8‘These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. 9 They worship Me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men.’” 10Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen and understand.…
3. Nullifying the Word in favor of their traditions. (Mark 7:13) 13Thus you nullify the word of God by the tradition you have handed down. And you do so in many such matters.”

So how do you make the claim that I did not address your single verse? I supported your point and expanded...you do not want to miss the weaknesses, dangers and pitfalls of oral traditions. They are not all inspired as scripture is inspired and proves their weaknesses when misapplied...You have fallen into the trap for which the Jews were all forewarned, first by Isaiah and then by the Messiah Himself, whom tradition was instructed to reject, according to the prophets' own warning.
How many times are you going to repeat the same bad logic before you realize that you are convincing no one.
 
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