Project Genesis

Basics of Judaism

G-d and Torah

Proof of an Oral Torah

Question: I know that there is the torah, the written one, but where does it say anything about the Oral Torah?

Answer: There is actually at least one clear reference to the Oral Law in the Written Torah:

“When the Lord your G-d will widen your borders as He promised you [i.e., bring you into Israel] and you will say ‘I will eat meat’ for you will desire to eat meat; according to all the desires of your soul, eat meat. When you will become distant from the place that the Lord your G-d will choose to place His name [i.e., Jerusalem and the Temple] and you will slaughter from your cattle and from your flock (that which G-d has given you) as I commanded you…”Deut. 12; 20, 21

Rashi comments:
“’As I commanded you:’ This teaches us that there is a (detailed) command concerning slaughter – how to slaughter – and these are the laws of slaughter that were taught to Moshe from Sinai (i.e., from G-d).”

So G-d, somewhere, transmitted detailed laws of ritual slaughter. I invite you to search the Written Torah from its beginning until its end and challenge you to find one single detail: there’s no mention of what type of tool to use (knife, hammer, poison…) nor where on the animal to make a wound (throat, back of the neck, major arteries…) nor who should do it, nor when or where it should be done. Yet all of these details are necessary for the proper observance of this command. We’re left with two possibilities. Either the author of the Torah was a bit scatter-brained and left out some details (intending, no doubt, to get back to it later), in which case, the Torah’s divinity – or even its coherence – becomes an impossibility. Or that the Author was in full control of His material and included these and countless other details in “footnotes.” If there’s one “footnote” there could easily be more…especially since there are so many passages in the Torah that are so unclear by themselves.

The Oral Law was largely committed to a partially written form nearly 2,000 years ago. The Mishnah, Talmud and many other works are the record of this law.

I hope this helps.

With my best regards,
Rabbi Boruch Clinton

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