Ask the Rabbi: Questions and Answers about Oral Law – General
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Oral Law – General

613 Mitzvot - What is the earliest reference to the Torah having 613 mitzvot? Where does this list come from? This is a matter of dispute here in South Africa, where a radio talk show host made some inaccurate statements about... More
Eye for an Eye - I recently heard a talk explaining "an eye for an eye" in the Torah. As society has become less barbaric, the rabbis reinterpreted the verse to mean one pays the damages for the eye, instead of actually taking out the... More
Is the Midrash Literal? - I respect the Torah greatly and try to observe its commands. One thing that bothers me, however, are the Midrashic texts which describe things in a very far-out way. I recently saw something about Moses being 10 feet... More
Kabbalistic Masters - I have noticed that you often offer explanations to the Torah from the “Kabbalists” or Kabbalistic Masters.” Who are these people and how do they differ from the standard rabbinical scholars? More
Misquoting the Talmud - I recently stumbled on an anti-Semitic website and they had a whole list of Talmud sayings that sound very non-PC. One example was: "It is permitted to marry a 3-year-old girl," which they said means that... More
Necessity of Oral Law - It's my understanding that the Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash comprise the collective body of wisdom called the "Oral Law." How does this differ from the Written Law (the Bible), and why do we need both? Why... More
Source for Shabbat Laws - I know that Judaism places many restrictions on Shabbat activities – writing, electricity, etc. But when I opened up the Bible to read about that, I couldn't find anything at all! How can that be? And where does... More
Torah Transmission - How do we know that the Torah we have today is the same text given on Mount Sinai? Maybe it's all just a game of "broken telephone." More
Torah versus Talmud? - I'm hoping that you can clarify a few terms that are not clear for me. What is the difference between Torah, Talmud, Mishnah, Gemara and Midrash. If the Bible is the written law, then is the Midrash the commentary? I... More
Validity of Oral Law: Tefillin Example - I am getting interested in Judaism – reading the Bible, and trying to practice its many laws. But I am having a hard time accepting the Talmud and all its laws. Isn't it enough just to do what's written in the... More

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