WHAT IS THE ORAL TORAH?
The rabbis say that there are the Written Torah and the Oral Torah.
The Written Torah is the one that it is written in the Sepher Torah, the
Book of the Law, that corresponds to the first five books of the Tanach.
The Oral Torah, as the rabbis say, is the following:
They say that when God gave
the Law to Moses, this did not write the whole Law, and that a part of the Law
he transmitted to Joshua orally, and that Joshua transmitted it orally to the
leaders of the people of Israel, and so on, from generation to generation.
They say that the Oral Torah are the commandments and teachings that God gave to Moses, and that Moses did not
write, but transmitted orally, and have been transmitted orally from generation
However, in Deuteronomy 31:24-26 it is written:
DT 31.24 AND IT CAME TO PASS THAT, WHEN MOSES FINISHED OF WRITING THE WORDS OF
THIS LAW IN A BOOK, UNTIL THEIR END,
DT 31.25 MOSES COMMANDED THE LEVITES, THAT BARE THE ARK OF THE COVENANT OF YAHVEH, SAYING,
DT 31.26 TAKE THIS BOOK OF THE LAW, AND
PUT IT BY THE SIDE OF THE ARK OF THE COVENANT OF YAHVEH YOUR GOD, THAT IT MAY BE THERE
FOR A WITNESS AGAINST THEE.
Wherefore, the so called Oral Torah does not exist.
In Deuteronomy 4:2 it is written:
DT 4.2 YE SHALL NOT ADD UNTO THE WORD WHICH I COMMAND YOU, NEITHER SHALL YE
DIMINISH FROM IT, THAT YE MAY KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF YAHVEH YOUR GOD WHICH I COMMAND YOU.
Therefore, we see that God
commanded expressly that we do not add anything to the Law that He gave in
writing through Moses.
Wherefore, we cannot say that there are other commandments of God besides the ones that are written in
the Sepher Torah.
And in Proverbs 30:5-6 it is written:
PV 30.5 EVERY WORD OF GOD IS TRIED:
HE IS A SHIELD UNTO THEM THAT TAKE REFUGE IN HIM.
PV 30.6 ADD THOU NOT UNTO HIS WORDS, LEST HE REPROVE THEE, AND THOU BE FOUND A
Therefore, we must not add anything to the Law of God.
The Karaite Jews do not
believe in the existence of the Oral Torah. The Karaite Jews are right.
Some people say that the verse Deuteronomy 12:21 proves
the existence of the Oral Torah, because there it is written that God said for
us to slaughter the animals as He commanded us, and they say that in the
Written Torah there is no commandment of God on how to slaughter an animal.
However, it is not true that in the Written Torah
there is no commandment of God on how to slaughter an animal, because it is
written in Deuteronomy 12:16 that God commanded that when we slaughter an
animal we pour out its blood on the earth as water, and He also commanded that
we do not eat the blood, what means that, when we slaughter an animal, we must
let all its blood to drain out, and that is
a commandment on how to slaughter an animal.
Therefore, when God, in Deuteronomy 12:21, says for
us to slaughter the animal as He commanded us, He is saying for us to slaughter
the animal so that all its blood drain out and be poured in the earth as
These instructions that God gave on how to
slaughter an animal are
enough, and it is up to us to find a way to slaughter the animal so that all
his blood drain out and be poured out on the earth, and any slaughter method
that causes all the blood of the animal to drain out and to be poured out on
the earth is a slaughter method that is in accordance with what God commanded.
Some people say that the verses Deuteronomy 17:8-13
and Exodus 18:13-26 prove the existence of the Oral Torah.
Nevertheless, this is not true.
The verses Deuteronomy 17:8-13 speak about judgment
and judicial decisions, and not about lawmaking.
The verses Deuteronomy 17:11-13 say that we must
act according to the judicial decision pronounced by the priest or by the
However, the mentioned verses do not give to the
priest or to the judge authority to make laws or to modify the laws established
by God in His Torah.
The verses Exodus 18:13-26 also speak about the
judicial activity, and not about lawmaking.
The verses Exodus 18:15 and 18:19-20 show that the
laws were established by God, and that Moses taught to the judges the laws
established by God.
And the verse Deuteronomy 31:24 shows that Moses
wrote all the Torah, so that there is no Oral Torah.
And the verse Deuteronomy 4:2 shows that God
commanded not to add nor to subtract anything from the Torah.
Therefore, the rabbis cannot prohibit what God did
not prohibit, and cannot alter the laws established by God in His Torah.
Yahveh bless you.
João Paulo Fernandes Pontes (Hebrew name: Yochanan Ben Yosef).
Published in February 5, 2008.
Updated in June 19, 2015.