[b-hebrew] Oral Tradition (was: Modern Hebrew)

leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Wed Jun 9 08:13:10 EDT 2004


There is a difference between that small group of people who studied at one
of the academies (Yeshivot) under a rabbi, and passed on that rabbi's
teachings, and the "common Jew" whom we are talking about. The Mishnah in
places makes it clear that the Pharisees drew clear boundaries around their
group ("Hakhamim" or "Haverim") who they expected to keep such commandments
as dietary laws, ritual purity and tithes, and the "common Jews" who
usually did not. Unlike the Saducees, the Pharisees were open to accepting
people who proved their ability to learn (such as Rabbi Akiba) and even
Gentile converts. Somewhat like Orthodox Jews today, who teach that the
Torah as they keep it is meant for all Jews, but know that only a small
minority actually do observe the commandments as they do. However, back
then, I would assume, that even "common Jews" were "religious", that is,
they believed and observed what they had grownup with. If we're talkig
about the 1st century, pre-Destruction (of the Temple), Judaism in practice
was much more "pluralistic" (if you'll excuse the modern term) that we
think it was.

As far as the "chain of ordination" as set out in Pirkei Avot - that's
mostly wishful reconstruction on the part of 2-3 century Pharisees. In
general, the concept of "ordination" per-se is foreign to Judaism: Moses'
"leaning his hands" on Joshua is a trasfer of leadership authority.


Original Message:
From: Noam Eitan neitian at nyc.rr.com
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 07:36:52 -0400
To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] OT: a link about Modern Hebrew

> Oral tradition was not (for the most part) memorized, but acted upon.

There are many examples in the Mishna and Talmud of the transfer of oral
traditions (a rabbi quoting a personal source for a different interpretation
of the law.)
> The "common Jew", who may not have been literate, did as his father had
>done  before him, and when in doubt, turned to his local rabbi (who would
> been a Pharisee).

What would have been the source of that local rabbi's teaching other than
oral transmission? "Moshe received Torah in Sinai and gave it to Yoshua",
etc., the succession of ordination (and of oral transmission.)  Noam Eitan,
Brooklyn, NY

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