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 »
Blessings on Rabbinical Mitzvahs - On Chanukah and Purim, we say the blessing, Asher Kidishanu - "Which God has commanded us..." Yet aren't those words inappropriate, given that nowhere in the 613 mitzvahs of the Torah are these holidays... 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 cubits... More »
Is the Oral Torah a Later Development? - My parents were both of the belief that only the Torah itself is sacred, and that the Talmud and the Oral Torah were developed much later. They were the attempt of self-appointed rabbis to interpret the Scripture, but... More »
Is the Talmud the Word of God? - I believe that the Tanakh is the word of God, but I don’t know if this is true of the Talmud. Wasn’t the Talmud written by scholars much later, who were trying their best to understand God’s Torah? And isn’t it... 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 »
Kid in Mother’s Milk not Taken Literally - The Torah states a clear law, “You shall not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.” How in the world can this be taken as the basis for not eating meat and milk together at all, not even in the same meal? The Torah is... 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 »
World to Come not Mentioned in the Torah - If the belief in the World to Come is so central to Judaism, why does the Torah never mention it? More »

Due to limited resources, the Ask the Rabbi service is intended for Jews of little background with nowhere else to turn. People with questions in Jewish law should consult their local rabbi. For genealogy questions try JewishGen.org. Note also that this is not a homework service!

Ask the Aish Rabbi a Question

Receive the Aish.com Daily Features Email

Sign up to our Daily Email Newsletter.

Our privacy policy