[b-hebrew] I think this is what Kirk asked for

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Sun Jun 25 23:39:01 EDT 2006

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Shoshanna Walker" <rosewalk at concentric.net>
> "Levicus 23, the Bible speaks about Atonement, Yom Kippur, and the
> Bible says on this day we have to afflict our souls. How do you
> afflict your souls? This is a commandment of 'God.' It is not clear
> how you would fulfill this law, and 'God' is giving this as a very
> important law.
Is this the correct understanding of the verse?

"Afflict" I don't think is the correct meaning, rather 
humility, humbleness, and likewise "soul" means 
more than English (and for that matter, German or 
Yiddish term), so that humbling one's life means 
setting side one's pride to be humble before God.

> When it says [Exodus 12:2] "This month shall mark for you the
> beginning of the months"?  To which months is this referring?  Is it
> referring to Egyptian months (where the Jews were living at the time)
> or Chaldean months (from where their patriarch Abraham originated)?
> Solar months or lunar months?  Without an oral tradition, there is no
> way to know to what this verse is referring
The context answers this question. The month 
of Abib is meant. That was neither Egyptian nor 
Chaldean. The people living then understood 
Moses. What has happened is that we have lost 
much over time, making any explanation not 
original with Moses, but with those who came 
much later no longer familiar with Hebrew months.

> When the Torah forbids certain birds [Lev. 11:13-19], does that mean
> that all other birds are permitted?  Or are there sign for birds like
> there are for animals [Lev. 11:2-8]?  How can anyone know whether
> biblical law permits or forbids eating ducks, geese, and turkeys?
Why not?

>    When the Torah [Ex. 16:29] says "Let no man leave his place on the
> seventh day" to what place is this referring?  Does it mean his home,
> his property if he has more than one home, his neighborhood, his
> city, or something else ?  In fact, Isaiah [66:23] says "It shall be
> that at every New Moon and on every sabbath all mankind will come to
> bow down before Me - said the L-rd" which implies that people will
> leave their homes on the sabbath and go to worship the L-rd .
> Evidently, Isaiah did not understand this verse in Exodus as the
> simple reading would have it.
Again, the problem is taking the verse out of context. 
Not all commands are universal, many given were for 
specific times and places. E.g. 2 Samuel 5:17-25.

> What does the Torah mean when it [Ex. 20:10] forbids "work" on the
> sabbath?  What work is forbidden and what is not?

Look at the uses of the different words. (BD refers 
to any work. ML)KH refers to work taken to advance 
one's career. ML)KH was forbidden, not (BDH. Works 
of mercy and worship are allowed.

> Without an oral explanation of the details of this forbidden work, it
> is impossible to know what the Torah means.  How did G-d command our
> fathers to keep Shabbat?  "You shall keep Shabbat holy, as I have
> commanded your fathers" (Jeremiah 17:22).
Again Jeremiah was referencing a written set of law.

> The sections of Exodus [ch. 21] and Deuteronomy [ch. 21-25] that deal
> with monetary and physical crimes do not seem to contain enough
> information to formulate a working legal system.  How can a court
> legislate with so few guidelines?  Certainly, for courts to function
> based on biblical law there must have been more information given in
> the form of an oral law
That's lawyer speak. Looking at actions, taking by 
fraud and burglary are both stealing, already forbidden.

> The laws of inheritance as stated in Numbers [27:8-11] cannot begin
> to address all of the many complicated situations that can and have
> arisen throughout the generations.  Without an oral law, how does a
> society apply the biblical inheritance laws?
> How does one fulfill the biblical commandments of circumcision [Gen.
> 17:10-14], fringes [Num. 15:38-39], and booths [Lev. 23:42]?  There
> is not enough detail in the biblical directive to know how to fulfill
> these commandments properly.  What are fringes?  What is a booth?
> How much and where must be cut off in circumcision?  The biblical
> text is too silent to enable following these commandments unless
> there was an oral explanation
> A baby must be circumcised on the eighth day [Gen. 17:12].  What if
> the eighth day falls out on the sabbath?  Can a circumcision take
> place on a sabbath or is that considered work?  What if the baby is
> sick?  For what conditions would it be permitted to delay the
> circumcision?
There's a reference in the New Testament showing 
that circumcision was practiced on the Sabbath during 
Second Temple times.

> The Passover sacrifice must be brought by every Jew [Ex. 12:47] on
> the day before Passover [Num. 9:5].  What happens if that day falls
> out on the sabbath?  Surely, slaughtering and offering a sacrifice is
> work.  Which takes precedence -- the sabbath or the paschal
> sacrifice?  There must be an oral law to explain this if these laws
> were intended to be put into practice
> Numbers 8 describes the building of the menorah in the temple. This
> work of the candlestick, which was a beaten gold unto the shaft
> thereof, unto the flowers thereof with beaten work according to the
> pattern which the Lord had showed Moses.  Where is the picture of the
> pattern?
> There is a reliance on sages for interpreting the law in Exod  18:36
> and in Deut 17:8-11.  In Deut. 17:8-11   What possible knowledge is
> there that can be hidden?  If there is no oral law, then the only
> basis for judgement is in the Torah which is open for anyone to
> study.  Clearly, the entire need for the above process of going to
> the central court and following their ruling implies that there is an
> oral tradition which also serves as the basis for judgement.

I didn't answer all the examples you gave above, 
enough though that one can see why many consider 
the Oral Law irrelevant, unneeded. That some verses 
can be understood linguistically as having different 
meanings than what Oral Law teaches, and many 
refer to previously written laws making Oral Law 
irrelevant, is the reasons that and many others don't 
follow Oral Law.

Where we agree is that both of us hold the written 
Tanakh as God's Word and, except for copyist errors, 
trustworthy in all areas.

Karl W. Randolph.

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