[b-hebrew] oral law

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sat Jun 24 19:04:36 EDT 2006

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Peter Kirk" <peter at qaya.org>
> Of course it doesn't. That's because such matters, like so many details
> of religious practice, are not divinely specified. If this verse, I
> suppose you mean Deuteronomy 6:8, is intended to be taken literally at
> all, God did not choose to specify exactly how these commandments were
> to be tied to hands and foreheads because this was a matter for each
> person, or each community, to decide for themselves. And that is what
> happened; one community's decision on these details has become
> traditional Jewish teaching and practice. But what matters to God is not
> the details the principle behind it.

Peter, that's a (Pauline) Christian view, not a (Rabbinic) Jewish one. Of 
course I have no intention of arguing about anyone else's religious views, 
but the Jewish one is basically, that God would not have given so many rules 
if he had not intended them to be followed. Halakhah, the "legal" part of 
the Oral Torah, spells out just how the rules are supposed to be followed. 
Something like by-legistlation specifying what a constitution states in only 
general terms. But since God, unlike the human authors of a constitution, is 
"perfect" and omniscient, He would not have left things to chance. And so 
the Torah "must" have all possibilities already "built in". A very literal 
understanding of this, such as the one that Shoshanna holds, would be that 
God actually prepared Moses for every possibility that would arise in the 
future, and he passed these down to the elders, who passed them to the 
scribes, who passed them to the rabbis of "the Great Assembly", the later 
Sanhedrin. A less literal interpretation is that God taught Moses the rules 
by which to apply the Torah and gave him the authority to do so, and this is 
what he passed down.


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