Rabbinic Judaism
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Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of de ...
since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the
Babylonian Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ; also Romanization of Hebrew, transliterated as ''ha ...
. Rabbinic Judaism has its roots in Pharisaic Judaism and is based on the belief that
Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judais ...

Moses
at
Mount Sinai Mount Sinai ( he , הר סיני ''Har Sinai''; Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its ...
received two items from God: the "
Written Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebre ...
" (Torah she-be-Khetav) and the "
Oral Torah According to Rabbinic Judaism Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century Common era, C ...
" (Torah she-be-al Peh). The Written Torah is the Torah itself (the
Pentateuch The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebre ...
) and the Oral Torah explanations of the Written Torah transmitted word-of-mouth. Often, these are known as the Written and Oral Law. At first, it was forbidden to write down the Oral Torah because the rabbis feared that it would become rigid and lose its flexibility, but after the destruction of the
Second Temple The Second Temple (, ), also known in its later years as Herod's Temple, was the reconstructed Jewish holy temple that stood on the Temple Mount The Temple Mount (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Se ...

Second Temple
they decided to write it down in the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of and the primary source of Jewish religious law (') and . Until the advent of , in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the centerpiece of and was foundation ...

Talmud
and other rabbinic texts. Rabbinic Judaism contrasts with the
Sadducees The Sadducees (; he, צְדוּקִים ''Ṣĕdûqîm'') were a sect or group of Jews who were active in Judea Judea or Judaea, and the modern version of Judah (; from he, יהודה, Hebrew language#Modern Hebrew, Standard ''Yəhūda'', ...
,
Karaite Judaism Karaite Judaism () or Karaism (, sometimes spelt Karaitism (; ; also spelt Qaraite Judaism, Qaraism or Qaraitism) is a Jewish religious movement Jewish religious movements, sometimes called "Religious denomination, denominations", include di ...
and
Samaritanism The Samaritan religion, also known as Samaritanism, is the national religion of the Samaritans The Samaritans (; Samaritan Hebrew: , ' (, 'Guardians/Keepers/Watchers (of the Torah)'); he, שומרונים, ''Shomronim''; ar, السام ...
, which do not recognize the Oral Torah as a divine authority nor the rabbinic procedures used to interpret Jewish scripture. Although there are now profound differences among
Jewish denominations Jewish religious movements, sometimes called " denominations", include different groups which have developed among Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious gr ...
of Rabbinic Judaism with respect to the binding force of ''
halakha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters (thus '' trans-'' + '' liter-'') in predictable ways, such as Greek → ...
'' (Jewish
religious law Religious law includes ethical and moral codes taught by religious tradition Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious ...
) and the willingness to challenge preceding interpretations, all identify themselves as coming from the tradition of the Oral Law and the rabbinic method of analysis.


Written and oral law

Rabbinic Judaism is distinguished by belief in Moses as "our Rabbi" and that God revealed the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are a ...

Torah
in two parts, as both the
Written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entities or Organization, groups through the use of sufficien ...

Written
and the
Oral Torah According to Rabbinic Judaism Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century Common era, C ...
, also known as the
Mishnah The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral tradition Oral tradition, or oral lore, i ...
. All the laws in the Written Torah are recorded only as part of a narrative describing
God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, creator, and principal object of Faith#Religious views, faith.Richard Swinburne, Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Ted Honderich, Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxfo ...

God
imparting these laws to Moses and commanding him to transmit them to the Jewish nation. The
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of and the primary source of Jewish religious law (') and . Until the advent of , in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the centerpiece of and was foundation ...

Talmud
contains discussions and opinions regarding details of many oral laws believed to have originally been transmitted to Moses. Some see
Exodus Exodus or the Exodus may refer to: Religion *Book of Exodus, second book of the Hebrew Torah and the Christian Bible *The Exodus, the biblical story of the migration of the ancient Israelites from Egypt into Canaan Historical events * Jujuy E ...
18 and
Numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
11 as a display of Moses' appointing elders as judges to govern with him and judge disputes, imparting to them details and guidance of how to interpret the laws of God while carrying out their duties. The Oral Torah includes rules intended to prevent violations of the laws of the Torah and Talmud, sometimes referred to as "a fence around the Torah". For example, the written Torah prohibits certain types of travelling on the Sabbath; consequently, the Oral Torah prohibits walking great distances on the Sabbath to ensure that one does not accidentally engage in a type of travelling prohibited by the written Torah. Similarly, the written Torah prohibits plowing on the Sabbath; the Oral Torah prohibits carrying a stick on the Sabbath to ensure that one does not drag the stick and accidentally engage in prohibited plowing.


Development

As the
rabbi A rabbi is a spiritual leader or religious teacher in Judaism. One becomes a rabbi by being ordained by another rabbi, following a course of study of Jewish texts such as the Talmud. The basic form of the rabbi developed in the Pharisees, Phar ...

rabbi
s were required to face a new reality, that of Judaism without a Temple (to serve as the location for
sacrifice Sacrifice is the offering of material possessions or the lives of animals or humans to a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.mer ...
and study) and Judea without autonomy, there was a flurry of legal discourse, and the old system of oral scholarship could not be maintained. It is during this period that rabbinic discourse began to be recorded in writing. The theory that the destruction of the Temple and subsequent upheaval led to the committing of Oral Torah into writing was first explained in the Epistle of
Sherira Gaon Sherira bar Hanina (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and ...
and often repeated.See, for example, Grayzel, ''A History of the Jews'', Penguin Books, 1984, p. 193. The Oral Torah was subsequently codified in the
Mishnah The Mishnah or the Mishna (; he, מִשְׁנָה, "study by repetition", from the verb ''shanah'' , or "to study and review", also "secondary") is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral tradition Oral tradition, or oral lore, i ...
and
Gemara The Gemara (also transliterated Gemarah, or in Ashkenazi pronunciation Gemore; from Aramaic , from the Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic langua ...
, and is interpreted in
rabbinic literature Rabbinic literature, in its broadest sense, is the entire spectrum of rabbinic writings throughout Judaism, Jewish history. However, the term often refers specifically to literature from the Talmudic era, as opposed to medieval and modern rabb ...
detailing subsequent rabbinic decisions and writings. Rabbinic Jewish literature is predicated on the belief that the Torah cannot be properly understood without recourse to the Oral Torah. It states that many commandments and stipulations contained in the Written Torah would be difficult, if not impossible, to keep without the Oral Torah to define them. For example, the prohibition to do any "creative work" (''melakha'') on the Sabbath, which is given no definition in the Torah, is given a practical meaning in the Oral Torah, which provides definition of what constitutes ''melakha''. Numerous examples exist of this general prohibitive language in the Torah (such as, "don't steal", without defining what is considered theft, or ownership and property laws), requiring—according to rabbinic thought—a subsequent definition through the Oral Torah. Thus Rabbinic Judaism claims that almost all directives, both positive and negative, in the Torah are non-specific in nature and require the existence of either an Oral Torah or some other method to explain them. Much rabbinic Jewish literature concerns specifying what behavior is sanctioned by the law; this body of interpretations is called ''
halakha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters (thus '' trans-'' + '' liter-'') in predictable ways, such as Greek → ...
'' (''the way'').


Modern developments

Until the
Haskalah The ''Haskalah'', often termed Jewish Enlightenment ( he, השכלה; literally, "wisdom", "erudition" or "education"), was an intellectual movement among the Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jew ...
(Hebrew: "Jewish enlightenment") of the late 18th century, and the resulting division of
Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in ...
into religious movements or
denominations Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu denominations ** Schools of Buddhism, Buddhist denomination * Denomination (currency) * Denomination ( ...
, especially in North America and anglophone countries, halakha had the universal status of required religious practice. This remains the prevailing position among
Orthodox Orthodox, Orthodoxy, or Orthodoxism may refer to: Religion * Orthodoxy, adherence to accepted norms, more specifically adherence to creeds, especially within Christianity and Judaism, but also less commonly in non-Abrahamic religions like Neo-paga ...
and
Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...
Jews. Reconstructionist and
Reform Jews Reform Judaism (also known as Liberal Judaism or Progressive Judaism) is a major Jewish denomination that emphasizes the evolving nature of the faith, the superiority of its ethical aspects to the ceremonial ones, and belief in a continuous rev ...
do not generally treat halakha as binding.


See also

*
Beth din A beth din ( he, בית דין ''Bet Din'', "house of judgment" , Ashkenazic: ''beis din'') is a Rabbinic Judaism, rabbinical court of Judaism. In ancient times, it was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel. Today, it ...


References


External links


Britannica.com: Rabbinic Judaism
{{Jews and Judaism, state=collapsed Oral Torah