I'm starting something new!!!

Thursday, 7 October, 2021 - 5:50 pm

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When we speak about the Torah, what exactly do we mean?

G-d gave us the Torah in 2 forms: the Written and the Oral Torah.

The written Torah includes the Bible (Torah-Pentateuch, Neviim-Prophets, Ketuvim-Scriptures, in abbreviation Tanach), and was transmitted from generation to generation in written form. As for the oral Torah, it was forbidden to write it down. It was transmitted from teacher to student, from parent to child. It includes explanations about the written Torah and rules about how one should study it in order to reach new conclusions.

Forty generations later, Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi saw that the oral Torah was in great danger of being forgotten. Israel was under foreign rule and many Jews were in exile in various places. Thus, he decided to write it down in order to ensure its survival.

But why not write it from the beginning? There are a few explanations. One reason is that the Torah must be something alive and relevant to our lives. We need to study it, speak about it and be busy with it. Thus, in the oral way, discussing with our teachers we understand the Torah in a different level, with all the nuances that cannot be transmitted in writing. When it is written, there is the danger that the Torah will stay on the shelf, since we believe that when we need it, the book will always be there…

Even though the oral Torah has been written down, let us give it the proper respect. Let us live with it, let us study and discuss it and not leave it on the shelf to gather dust…

Until now, we have analyzed together the Pentateuch, the written Torah (according to the explanations of the oral Torah, since it is not possible otherwise).

This year, we will study a part of the oral Torah, a book of the Mishnah which is called Pirke Avot, the Ethics of our Fathers. While the other parts of the Mishnah deal with the laws of the Torah, this book is different. It teaches us how to behave properly, with ethics and values beyond the letter of the law.

In the next posts, we will study and discover together its messages and how they relate to our everyday lives.

Shabbat Shalom,


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