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What is a Beraita?

by Rabbi Moshe Miller

  

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


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Jewish Law is Divided into two main sections, The Written Law (the Torah, comprising the five books of the Pentateuch) and the Oral Law. Both were given to Moses on Mount Sinai in the year 2448 in the Jewish calendar (1313 BCE). [The other nineteen books of the Bible were added by later prophets.]

The Oral Law – the explanations, interpretations and rulings of the Written Law – was originally committed to memory and was transmitted orally, from teacher to student.

The word beraita means “outside” of the six orders of the Mishnah
However, with the destruction of the Second Temple (in the year 70 CE) and the Roman persecution, exiles and suffering of the Jewish People which followed, Rabbi Judah the Prince, the leader of the Jewish People at that time, was afraid that parts of the Oral Law would be lost. So he and his colleagues decided to commit the Oral Law to writing.

He composed the six orders of the Mishnah, which was completed around the year 3949 (189 CE). Although the Mishnah encapsulates the entire Oral Law, many variant versions, additional explanations, clarifications and rulings were not included in the Mishnah. These were later compiled in works called the Beraitot (plural of Beraita) by Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Oshia and others. The word beraita means “outside” of the six orders of the Mishnah. Its authority is somewhat less than the authority of Mishnaic rulings.


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Torah
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.
Oral Law
G–d orally explained all the 613 Commandments to Moses. These explanations constitute the Oral Law.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Judah
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.
Mishnah
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.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.