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What is the chain of the Oral Law?


Library » Torah » Mishnah and Talmud | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Mrs. Esty Davidson: Hello! Due to tech problems, if I don't reply in 3 minutes, please close the chat and try again :-)

student123: How was the Talmud evolved?

Mrs. Esty Davidson: The Oral Torah was taught mouth-to-ear, mouth-to-ear, through the generations until the 2nd Century CE, at which point the sages felt that it would be forgotten unless it was written down. Rabbi Judah the Prince indeed went ahead and compiled the basics into a 63 volume document called the Mishnah. The Mishnah was taught in schools through the generations, with an accompanying oral explanation. In the 5th Century CE, it became too vast and confusing for people to understand, and the oral explanation was written down in a massive collection that dwarfs the Mishnah. This is the Talmud?the explanation of the Mishnah

student123: Thank you :)

Mrs. Esty Davidson: you're welcome!

student123: What is the chain of tradition

Mrs. Esty Davidson: i'm not sure i understand this question

student123: Could you explain how the Chain of Tradition works, for example, the talmud, mishnah, gemara etc...

Mrs. Esty Davidson: sure

Mrs. Esty Davidson: one moment please

student123: Ok thank you

Mrs. Esty Davidson: Tanach1

Mrs. Esty Davidson: mishnah2 (braitah, and tosefta)

Mrs. Esty Davidson: talmud3

student123: Can you explain them

Mrs. Esty Davidson: which one of them?

student123: Braita and tosefta

Mrs. Esty Davidson: they are (secondary) teachings of mishnaic-era sages that were not included in the compilation of the mishnah, but were recorded afterwards in separate compilations.

Mrs. Esty Davidson: after the talmud comes different answers given by the sages then, who were called sabora'im and later, ge'onim

Mrs. Esty Davidson: then come three great people: rabbi yitzchak elfasi4 , the Rambam5 , and rabbeinu asher (the rosh)6

Mrs. Esty Davidson: they wrote down the law similar to the way we know it now

Mrs. Esty Davidson: and then come the "Tur"7 - it's the law written down in four volumes

Mrs. Esty Davidson: and then we have the shulchan aruch - the code of jewish law8

student123: Thank you

Mrs. Esty Davidson: you're welcome :)

 [Ed. note: Click here to read 'What are the Mishnah and Talmud?' and also 'What is a Baraita?' ]

All names, places, and identifying information have been changed or deleted in order to protect the privacy of the questioners. In order to preserve authenticity, the chat sessions have been posted with a minimum of editing. Please excuse typographical errors, missing punctuation, and/or grammatical mistakes which naturally occur in the course of informal chat sessions.


  • 1. See,108/What-is-Tanach.html
  • 2. The Mishnah was completed by Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi in the year 3949 (189 CE)
  • 3. The Talmud was complete when Ravina II passed away in the year 4325 (475 CE)
  • 4. The 'Rif' (Rabbi Yitzchak Elfasi) passed away in the year 4863 (1103 CE)
  • 5. Click here to read about the Rambam (Maimonides):,144/Who-was-Maimonides.html
  • 6. The 'Rosh' (Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel) passed away in the year 5088 (1327 CE)
  • 7. The 'Tur' (Rabbi Yaacov ben Asher), was the son of the 'Rosh' (Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel)
  • 8. The Shulchan Aruch was completed by Rabbi Yosef Karo in the year 5323 (1563 CE)


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Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
1. The fourth son of Jacob and Leah. He was blessed by Jacob to be the leader of the tribes. Consequently, the Davidic royal dynasty is from the tribe of Judah. 2. The southern part of Israel which was occupied by the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and always remained under the reign of the kings from the tribe of Judah.
Acronym for Torah, Nevi'm (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Holy Writings). Tanach refers to the 24 books of the Bible: the 5 books of Moses, the 8 books of the Prophets, and the 11 books of Holy Writings.
Acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, widely known as Maimonides. Born in Spain in 1135, died in Egypt in 1204. Noted philosopher and authority on Jewish law. Also was an accomplished physician and was the personal doctor for members of the Egyptian royalty. Interred in Tiberius, Israel.
First written rendition of the Oral Law which G-d spoke to Moses. Rabbi Judah the Prince compiled the Mishna in the 2nd century lest the Oral law be forgotten due to the hardships of the Jewish exiles.