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Can I study scripture without tradition?


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Rabbi Eliezer G: Welcome to the Rabbi's one on one chat room, how can I help you today?

Fay: How can I learn more about judiam, but not from man - from scripture

Rabbi Eliezer G: a man once came to Hilel, the talmudic sage, and told him I want to study from scripture, but not from man

Rabbi Eliezer G: Hilel said, what can I, a man, do for you?

Rabbi Eliezer G: the man said, teach me to read Hebrew

Rabbi Eliezer G: Hilel agreed

Rabbi Eliezer G: the first day Hilel taught him four letters

Rabbi Eliezer G: the first was aleph the second beis the third gimmel and the fourth daled

Rabbi Eliezer G: the next day Hillel reviewed the first lesson with him:

Rabbi Eliezer G: the first letter is daled the second is gimmel the third is beis the fourth is aleph

Rabbi Eliezer G: the fellow objected

Rabbi Eliezer G: that's wrong he said; yesterday you taught me in the reverse!

Rabbi Eliezer G: ah, said Hilel

Rabbi Eliezer G: so you see?

Rabbi Eliezer G: there is no way for you to learn the scripture if you are not willing to accept the teaching of a man

Rabbi Eliezer G: ultimately, we know the letters of the alephbet from tradition

Rabbi Eliezer G: and to know that we are reading correctly we must assume that the tradition is correct

Rabbi Eliezer G: which is why Hillel's answer is relevant to your question too

Rabbi Eliezer G: there is no way to learn scripture without learning from man

Rabbi Eliezer G: the Torah is based on the integrity of the tradition

Rabbi Eliezer G: without our tradition we have nothing

Rabbi Eliezer G: we dont even know if the torah we are reading today is what G-d gave moshe

Rabbi Eliezer G: unless we trust that the tradition is true

Rabbi Eliezer G: this is why Jews have guarded the tradition with their lives

Rabbi Eliezer G: the integrity of the torah's tradition from generation to generation is crucial to the survival of Judaism

Rabbi Eliezer G: this is why Jews trust tradition

Rabbi Eliezer G: because Jews know that their forbearers would die rather than change the tradition

Rabbi Eliezer G: and Jews today stand ready to do the same

Fay: THank you you have been most helpful.

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.


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Torah » Mishnah and Talmud
Torah » The Bible » About

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.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.