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The Oral Law- Is it all from God?


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Elul 19, 5780
God gave Moshe the oral law at Sinai. Is anything added to it now from G-d just as equal as that given to Moshe?
It's a big topic but I'll try summarizing the different levels: There are 5 categories of the oral law, which are mandated and "overseen" by God: 1. The necessary explanations to the Written Law was obviously given at Sinai [e.g. the Torah says to take on Sukkot “the fruit of the beautiful tree”, Moshe obviously had to be told that it was a citron, and when told to put tefillin (phylacteries) on the hand and head, we had to be told what that meant]. 2. The rules how to deduce laws and read “in between the lines” of the Torah were also given to Moshe at Sinai [e.g.: g'zeira shava; how much does one eat to be considered “satiated” and obliged in the Grace After Meals.] 3. Regarding how to apply those rules to new and modern questions, there are sometimes differences of opinion, based upon the logic of the halachic authorities in each generation. These often can have the same level of the previous category (for they are defining and applying those rules from Sinai), but sometimes are on a little lower level (sorry, no room here to elaborate). 4. Rabbinic decrees (of positive actions, like hand-washing and blessings) and necessary "fences" (usually negative actions to stay away from, e.g. muktza on Shabbat) to protect the halacha, were usually instituted by the Sanhedrin, but sometimes by later generations. Their obligation and permission to do so is explicitly in the Torah (Dvarim 17, 9), but those decrees/fences have a little lower level than the Oral explanations and rules of deduction, given at Sinai. 5. Customs developed by Israel over the generations have an even lower level, but nevertheless are considered part of the Oral Law.
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