We are about to go on a short journey into the realm of the legitimate keepers of the Torah. Those who put their minds, hearts, souls, and shoulders to learning the Holy Torah will discover that the landscape is vast and beautiful. Enjoy.
Once a non-Jew asked the great and saintly Shammai: “How many Torahs do you have?” “Two” he answered. “One Oral and one Written, as it says:
"THESE ARE THE STATUTES AND JUDGMENTS AND LAWS [Hebrew: “Torot” or “Toros” i.e. the plural of Torah], WHICH THE LORD MADE BETWEEN HIM AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL IN MOUNT SINAI BY THE HAND OF MOSES” [LEVITICUS 26:46].
The non-Jewish fellow said, “I believe you concerning the Written but not in regards to the Oral Law. Convert me on condition that you teach me only the Written Law.” Shammai became indignant and sent him away. The man then went to the equally great and saintly Hillel who accepted him for the conversion program. On the first day Hillel taught the person the alphabet: Aleph, beth, gimmel, dalet, etc. On the second day Hillel reversed the letters. The prospective convert disagreed and said: “Yesterday you taught me a DIFFERENT sequence.” Hillel answered, “My son, you are relying on me anyway so rely on me concerning the Oral Torah too.”
In other words we would not know how to pronounce the Hebrew Alphabet if not for the Oral tradition. Similarly in order to understand the Laws we have to rely on oral tradition. Without such a tradition even the written law would not be accessible.
Listen to this, my
beloved friends, - our Rabbis and scribes only started putting vowels to
Hebrew consonants between the 6th and 10th centuries. This is the opinion
of archaeologists today. The earliest vocalized texts, 895 C.E., are the
Cairo Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel,
and 12 minor prophets). The twenty-four books of the Bible were vocalized
in the Aleppo Codex, 930 C.E., almost ruined in the anti-Jewish pogroms in
1947. Also, the Leningrad Codex with the Hebrew Bible was dated at 1000
C.E. (Biblical Archaeology Review * (s, 1982)
Torah scrolls were written from the Torah’s revelation at Mt. Sinai and throughout the 40 years of wandering without vowels during the time of the prophets, as well. Complete, utter, absolute reliance was on the Oral Tradition. In the case of the Torah extra-textural, knowledge is crucial to determine the simple meanings of many texts and elucidation of G-d’s wishes. Three times, for example, the Bible says not cook meat with the three-letter Hebrew word chalav (milk). Chalav can be just as easily pronounced cheylev (animal fats). Without any authoritative Oral Law, we would not know the Divine command was not to cook with some animal fats. This passed on through many millions of people having no questions or doubts because of the clear Oral Bible, which specifies the three letter word to be milk.
Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz
once went to visit his uncle Rabbi Avraham Yaffeu who was the head of the
Novhardok Yeshivah. This Yeshivah was a college of higher Rabbinic studies
that emphasized a particular type of Musar. “Musar”
|UNBROKEN CHAIN OF TRANSMISSION
2. Joshua 1312 BCE
THE ELDERS 1260-860 BCE
3. Pinchas and the 70 Elders
4. Eli the Kohen
5. Samuel the Prophet
6. King David
THE GREAT ASSEMBLY
ERA 260 BCE 200 CE
ERA 200-500 CE
OBEDIENCE TO THE ORAL LAW IS A COMMANDMENT