[b-hebrew] oral law

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Fri Jun 23 11:39:25 EDT 2006

On 6/22/06, Harold Holmyard wrote:

> The idea that there is an oral law equally as authoritative as the
> written law is highly dubious to me. You say that this prevents
> mistranslation, but it allows the importation of every kind of merely
> human idea and even perversion of God's word. God warns against adding
> to his word, and a proposed "oral law" does just that. It presents
> something as having the same authority as the written word, from what
> you say, and thereby adds to God's word.

The claim that there is no oral law is just as external to the Torah/Bible
as the claim that there is.  More to the point, and without identifying
the oral law as the Mishna/Talmud, it is very likely that there is an oral
law, simply because any code of law that is written is written in a certain
context, and further generations must interpret that law to allow new
situations to be addressed.  While something may have seemed clear
to the author of the law, it may not be so clear to its practitioners several
generations hence.  All of this creates the background whereby any code
of law that is written down, has along with it, associated understandings
that are not written down, and also must be interpreted continuously in
further generations.

However, Shoshanna's interpretation of Rashi and Midrash as part of this
oral law is not shared by all Jews.  It is an extreme interpretation that
essentially says that Rashi or the Rabbis of the Midrash whom he often
quotes was not a great scholar but simply a scribe who wrote something
handed down to him from the days of Moses.  While that may describe
much of his work (much of Rashi is effectively quotes from the Midrash),
he was also a great scholar and a true understanding of Rashi can only
be achieved by seeing all his quoted sources (which are many!) and
identifying which parts he chose to quote, which he chose not to quote,
what he chose to add of his own, and answering why he chose to do what
he did.

And guys, please sign your posts at the end of your posts with your full
name, not just "Shoshanna" or "j anna", and not just at the beginning of
the paragraph which you quote.  It makes the discussion easier to follow.


Yitzhak Sapir

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