fundamental that will be elaborated upon in this page concerns the basics of Oral Law.
Could you live according to the Constitution of the United States without establishing and obeying
its Judicial System and courts of law?It's impossible to do so, for the Constitution
speaks of establishing such a system.Imagine following the Constitution' while
ignoring the Judicial System.This would actually be rebelling against the Constitution,
not keeping it.The Torah ["Law of Moses"] is our Constitution, and the
Sanhedrin with its' subsisting courts is our judicial system.
The Torah states, "And I charged your judges at that time, saying: 'Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously
between a man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; ye shall
hear the small and the great alike; ye shall not be afraid of the face of any man; for the judgment is G-d's; and the case
that is too hard for you ye shall bring unto me [Moses], and I will hear it.'" (Deuteronomy 1:16-17)
Christians, if you truly follow Jes'us, take notice: Before Jes'us criticized a group
of Pharisees for hypocrisy, he first reiterated
that, "..The scribes and the Pharisees sit in the seat of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds;
for they say things and do not do them." - Matthew 23:2-3
May none of us be hypocrites. May we all strive to be consistent. If you follow Jes'us, Don't ignore
the words in bold!
AUTHORITY OF THE GREAT COURT OF MOSES, ACCORDING TO THE TORAH Deuteronomy 17:8-13, among other passages, makes up one of the 613 commandments given in the Torah. This particular commandment demands
obedience to the Court established under Moses. The judges of this Court direct us in how to do the 613 commandments.
Their instructions may or may not be changed by a later Great Court. Their rulings are not equal to the 613 commandments
of the Torah; They are, however, an extension of the Torah that is taught and derived from the Torah. These rulings
must be consistent with the Torah and not contradict it. Their decisions are to be called for by the Torah.
Their rulings: (The following is from Rambam's Intro. to the Mishneh)
There are received explanations of the Torah which were given by Moses, which also have indications in
the Torah. These can be learned by using the 13 principals of analysis. These explanations were not disputed in the
Great Court. An example of this type of judgment would be the answer to a question such as, "What is the fruit of the
glorious tree referred to in Lev. 23:40?"
There are laws, called Halakha L'Mosheh MeSeenai [explanation divinely given to Moses], concerning matters
in the Torah, whose existence are necessitated - made necessary - by the Torah, but whose explanations are not indicated in
the Torah by use of the 13 principals of analysis. These laws were not disputed in the Great Court, but their details
may have been. An example of this type of judgment would be the answer to a question such as, "What is the amount of
oil to be mixed, that is required by Leviticus 7:12?" See Deuteronomy 1:17.
There are laws learned from the Torah by using reason & the principals of analysis, whose explanations
were not received directly from Moses. These laws may be disputed by members of the Great Court if they disagree on
a point of analysis. Such laws as these are established by the majority vote of the members of the Great Court.
There are laws that were decreed by prophets and sages of the Great Court, in fulfillment of the command
to safeguard His safeguards, as given in Leviticus 18:30. These laws are called Gezeh'roth/"Decrees." An example of such a decree is the prohibition against eating dairy
with poultry in relation to Exodus 23:19.
There are laws instituted by the Great Court after they had investigated and approved of either:
1. positive practices of the population which do not add or take away from any of the 613 command
of the Torah. These are called Minhagim/"Practices." An example of such "Practices"
are the fasts mentioned in Esther 9:31 and Jeremiah 36:9 and Zachariah 8:19.
2. legal rulings that are none of the above 5 types, but which help the population in their keeping
of the Torah. These are called Taqanoth/"Edicts." The 3 times of daily prayer and the words
of most blessings fall under this category. See Daniel 6:10-13 and Psalms 55:18.
(The following is from Mishneh Torah, Sefer Shoftim, Hilkhot Mamrim) It is one of the positive commandments among the 613 commands in the Torah that one
act according to the directive guidance of the Great Court. The Torah assures us in Deuteronomy 17:11 to "act according to the instruction that they instruct you." It is a positive command to heed this Court in regard
to all these things. Anyone who does not carry out their instructions violates a negative command from among the 613
commandments in the Torah, as it states: "Do not deviate from any of the matters that they shall tell you, to the right or
to the left."
The Torah states:
"According to the instruction [torah] that they shall instruct you" - these are the taqanoth, the gezehroth,
and minhagoth (edicts, decree, and practices) that they instruct the population in, in order to strengthen the faith and repair
"And according to the decision that they shall say" - these are the things that they shall learn through
their judgment using the principals of reasoning by which the Torah is analyzed.
"From the matter that they shall tell you" - this is the instruction that the court receives from its'
predecessors by oral transmission - "shall tell you."
All who believe in the Torah are obligated to make their religious actions dependent upon this body
of judges and to rely on them for how they are to carry out the Torah's commandments.
See the Question and Answers page, "Misconceptions about Jewish Ritual," or "The Talmud and Mishna" for more information. Christians, if you truly follow Jes'us, take notice: Before Jes'us criticized the Pharisees for hypocrisy, he first reiterated that, "..The scribes
and the Pharisees sit in the seat of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds;
for they say things and do not do them." - Matthew 23:2-3