Oral Torah

A modern translation of Rashi's commentary on the Chumash, published by Artscroll
Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg's Haketav VeHaKabbalah deals with the relationship between the written and oral Torah
A relief depicting the development of the Oral Law at Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv

According to Rabbinic Judaism, the Oral Torah or Oral Law (, lit. "Oral Law") are those purported laws, statutes, and legal interpretations that were not recorded in the Five Books of Moses, the Written Torah (, lit. "Written Law"), but nonetheless are regarded by Orthodox Jews as prescriptive and given at the same time.

- Oral Torah

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Central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (halakha) and Jewish theology.

The first page of the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berachot, folio 2a. The center column contains the Talmud text, beginning with a section of Mishnah. The Gemara begins 14 lines down with the abbreviation גמ (gimmel-mem) in larger type. Mishnah and Gemara sections alternate throughout the Talmud. The blocks of text on either side are the Rashi and Tosafot commentaries, printed in Rashi script. Other notes and cross references are in the margins.
An early printing of the Talmud (Ta'anit 9b); with commentary by Rashi
A page of a medieval Jerusalem Talmud manuscript, from the Cairo Geniza
A full set of the Babylonian Talmud
Talmudic saying on the Divine Presence
Koren Talmud Bavli
The Talmud on display in the Jewish Museum of Switzerland brings together parts from the first two Talmud prints by Daniel Bomberg and Ambrosius Froben.
Jewish Scene I
Jewish Scene II
A Controversy Whatsoever on Talmud<ref>See Schleicher's paintings at MutualArt.</ref>
At the Rabbi's
Jews studying Talmud, París, c. 1880–1905
Samuel Hirszenberg, Talmudic School, c. 1895–1908
Ephraim Moses Lilien, The Talmud Students, engraving, 1915
Maurycy Trębacz, The Dispute, c. 1920–1940
Solomon's Haggadoth, bronze relief from the Knesset Menorah, Jerusalem, by Benno Elkan, 1956
Hilel's Teachings, bronze relief from the Knesset Menorah
Jewish Mysticism: Jochanan ben Sakkai, bronze relief from the Knesset Menorah
Yemenite Jews studying Torah in Sana&#039;a
Oz veHadar edition of the first page of the Babylonian Talmud, with elements numbered in a spiraling rainbowː (1) Joshua Boaz ben Simon Baruch's Mesorat haShas, (2) Joel Sirkis's Hagahot (3) Akiva Eiger's Gilyon haShas, (4) Completion of Solomon ben Isaac's commentary from the Soncino printing, (5) Nissim ben Jacob's commentary, (6) Hananel ben Hushiel's commentary, (7) a survey of the verses quoted, (8) Joshua Boaz ben Simon Baruch's Ein Mishpat/Ner Mitzvah, (9) the folio and page numbers, (10) the tractate title, (11) the chapter number, (12), the chapter heading, (13), Solomon ben Isaac's commentary, (14) the Tosafot, (15) the Mishnah, (16) the Gemara, (17) an editorial footnote.

The Talmud has two components; the Mishnah (, c. undefined 200 CE), a written compendium of the Oral Torah; and the Gemara (, c. undefined 500 CE), an elucidation of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Hebrew Bible.


A full set of the Babylonian Talmud
Sefer Torah at Glockengasse Synagogue (museum exhibits), Cologne
Hasidim walk to the synagogue, Rehovot, Israel.
A mixed-gender, egalitarian Conservative service at Robinson's Arch, Western Wall
Set of Mishneh Torah
Shulchan Aruch HaRav
Peninei Halakha Set
An illuminated manuscript of Arba'ah Turim from 1435

Halakha (הֲלָכָה, Sephardic: ), also transliterated as halacha, halakhah, and halacho (Ashkenazic: ), is the collective body of Jewish religious laws which is derived from the written and Oral Torah.

Karaite Judaism

Jewish religious movement characterized by the recognition of the written Torah alone as its supreme authority in halakha (Jewish religious law) and theology.

The Karaite synagogue in the Old City (Jerusalem)
Karaim synagogue in Trakai.
Russian Prime Minister order about the differences in the rights of the Karaites and the Jews.
Eupatorian Kenassas of Crimean Karaites.
A karaite Ṣiṣit with blue threads
Karaite synagogue in Ashdod
Karaite synagogue Congregation B’nai Israel (Daly City, California)

Karaite Judaism is distinct from mainstream Rabbinic Judaism, which considers the Oral Torah, codified in the Talmud and subsequent works, to be authoritative interpretations of the Torah.


Medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages.

Imaginary 18th-century depiction of Maimonides
The dominion of the Almohad Caliphate at its greatest extent, c. 1200
Maimonides' house in Fez, Morocco
Monument in Córdoba
Bas relief of Maimonides in the United States House of Representatives.
The Tomb of Maimonides in Tiberias
Depiction of Maimonides teaching students about the 'measure of man' in an illuminated manuscript.
The title page of The Guide for the Perplexed
Plaque of Maimonides at Rambam Medical Center, Haifa
Manuscript page by Maimonides. Judeo-Arabic language in Hebrew letters.
The original manuscript of the Commentary on the Mishnah, handwritten by Musa bin Maymun in Judeo-Arabic in a Rashi script.

He is sometimes known as (The Great Eagle) in recognition of his outstanding status as a bona fide exponent of the Oral Torah.


The Pharisees (פְּרוּשִׁים) were a Jewish social movement and a school of thought in the Levant during the time of Second Temple Judaism.

John Hyrcanus from Guillaume Rouillé's Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum.
Pompey in the Temple of Jerusalem, by Jean Fouquet
Gustave Doré: Dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees
Jesus at the house of the Pharisean, by Jacopo Tintoretto, Escorial

A fourth point of conflict, specifically religious, involved different interpretations of the Torah and how to apply it to current Jewish life, with Sadducees recognizing only the Written Torah (with Greek philosophy) and rejecting doctrines such as the Oral Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and the resurrection of the dead.

Orthodox Judaism

Collective term for the traditionalist and theologically conservative branches of contemporary Judaism.

Visitors in the Orthodox Jewish cemetery in Budapest, circa 1920; the word "Orthodox" (ארטאדאקסען) is painted on the wall, second to the left. Traditionalist Jews in Hungary were the first anywhere to use the term "orthodox" in the formation of an independent Orthodox organization in 1871.
A Jewish man pilloried in the synagogue, a common punishment in the pre-emancipation Jewish community in Europe.
Moses Sofer of Pressburg, considered the father of Orthodoxy in general and ultra-Orthodoxy in particular.
Isaac Bernays in clerical vestments. The ministerial style of dress seen here was ubiquitous among German and Western European (neo)-Orthodox Jews.
David Zvi Hoffmann, the single most prominent Orthodox theoretician who dealt with the critical-historical method.
Young Samson Raphael Hirsch, the ideologue of Orthodox secession in Germany.
Chaim Sofer, the leading halakhic authority of the Hungarian "zealots" during the Orthodox-Neolog schism.
Beth Medrash Govoha (Hebrew:בית מדרש גבוה), in Lakewood, New Jersey, U.S., the world's largest yeshiva outside Israel
Haredi schoolgirls at the Western Wall.
Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators (over 300,000 took part), protesting for the right of Yeshiva students to avoid conscription to the Israeli Army. Jerusalem, 2 March 2014.

Theologically, it is chiefly defined by regarding the Torah, both Written and Oral, as revealed by God to Moses on Mount Sinai and faithfully transmitted ever since.

Rabbinic Judaism

Rabbinic Judaism (יהדות רבנית), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Babylonian Talmud.

Talmud students
The first page of the Vilna Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berachot, folio 2a.

Rabbinic Judaism has its roots in Pharisaic Judaism and is based on the belief that Moses at Mount Sinai received both the Written Torah (Torah she-be-Khetav) and the Oral Torah (Torah she-be-al Peh) from God.


Mishna study, Pinsk 1924
Title page of the Mishna with the Tosefet Yom Tov
Gemara students using the Mishnah Sdura to note their summary of each sugya alongside its Mishnah

The Mishnah or the Mishna (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 traditions which is known as the Oral Torah.


The Sadducees ( צְדוּקִים) were a socio-religious sect of Jewish people who were active in Judea during the Second Temple period, from the second century BCE through the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

A Sadducee, illustrated in the 15th-century Nuremberg Chronicle
The Pharisees and the Sadducees Come to Tempt Jesus by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum)

The Sadducees rejected the Oral Torah as proposed by the Pharisees.

Jewish principles of faith

No established formulation of principles of faith that are recognized by all branches of Judaism.

The Samaritans on Mount Gerizim

Traditional Judaism maintains that God established a covenant with the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, and revealed his laws and 613 commandments to them in the form of the Written and Oral Torah.