Project Genesis

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The Jewish Legal System

The Sanhedrin and the Rabbis

Authority of the Talmud

My question is, that the Talmud is considered divine. Yet the Talmud is a progression of Rabbinic interpretation. Even the name “Living Torah” the idea of a document that brings the Torah to every situation. How can the Talmud be divine? Other then what Moses brought down as in the Mishnah, it is rabbinic interpretation considered divine?

Hi! Thank you for your very interesting question. I don’t think that Talmud is “divine”, if you mean by that it came from G-d. It was written by human beings, and most of it is quotes from various people who lived in that time, a thousand years after prophecy ended.

However, the Talmud is Torah, and as such is holy (maybe that’s what you meant). When G-d gave the written Torah to Moshe, he also certainly must have explained to him the details of what it meant. That is what we call the Oral Torah. But beyond that, the Torah also prescribes a means of settling whichever disagreements arise afterwards, whether because of information lost through the trials and tribulations of many generations, or because of new issues that had not arisen before. It says in Deuteronomy 17:11 that such issues are settled by the Sanhedrin (The high court in Jerusalem of the Temple period), and we must follow whatever they say exactly. G-d wants us to be guided by our leaders.

That means that part of the Torah is the understanding of it that comes from our Rabbis. Though humans wrote it, G-d has commanded us to obey that part too, just as if he said the words himself. Since the Talmud is the last collection of decisions by a court that had the authority of the Sanhedrin, its decisions are real Torah. That is why all the Rabbinical authorities that followed always based their understanding on that of the Talmud.

Best wishes,
Michoel Reach

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