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The Oral Torah:

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/12/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 228 times Debate No: 92661
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (9)
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Since the Written Torah is ambiguous and difficult to understand, there had to have been more information given in Sinai.

(Exodus 12 : 2) "This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year." To which months is this referring? Is it referring to Egyptian months (where the Jews were living at the time) or Chaldean months (from where our father Avraham originated)? Solar months or lunar months? Without an oral tradition, there is no way to know to what this verse is referring.

(Exodus 16 : 29) "See that the Lord has given you the Sabbath. Therefore, on the sixth day, He gives you bread for two days. Let each man remain in his place; let no man leave his place on the seventh day." To what place is this referring? Does it mean his home, his property if he has more than one home, his neighborhood, his city, or something else?

(Exodus 20 : 10) "but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord, your God; you shall perform no labor, neither you, your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your beast, nor your stranger who is in your cities." What exactly is labor, and what is not? Without the Oral Torah it would be impossible to know.

(Deuteronomy 12 : 21) "If the place the Lord, your God, chooses to put His Name there, will be distant from you, you may slaughter of your cattle and of your sheep, which the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you"" but nowhere in the Written Torah were they commanded to slaughter the animal.

(Exodus 24 : 12) "And the Lord said to Moses, "Come up to Me to the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets, the Law (Torah) and the commandments, which I have written to instruct them."" This implies that more than the Torah was given in Sinai.

(Zechariah 8 : 19) "So said the Lord of Hosts: The fast of the fourth [month], the fast of the fifth [month], the fast of the seventh [month], and the fast of the tenth [month] shall be for the house of Judah for joy and happiness and for happy holidays-but love truth and peace." Nowhere in the Tanakh is there a commandment to fast on those months.

These passages show that more information had to have been in given in Sinai.

There is also the argument that the Oral Torah contains information that, at the time, could only have been known through divine revelation.

(Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 25a) "Our Rabbis taught: Once the heavens were covered with clouds and the likeness of the moon was seen on the twenty-ninth of the month. The public were minded to declare New Moon, and the Beit din wanted to sanctify it, but Rabban Gamliel said to them: I have it on the authority of the house of my father's father that the renewal of the moon takes place after not less than twenty-nine days and a half and two-thirds of an hour and seventy-three parts.

(Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Kiddush HaChodesh, chapter 6) "Day and night are constantly considered a twenty-four hour composite, [on the average:] twelve [hours] of daylight and twelve [hours] of night. An hour can be divided into 1080 units. This number was chosen because it can be divided in half, into fourths, eighths, thirds, sixths, ninths, and tenths. Each of these fractions contains many of these units."

If you do the math, you will see that according to the Oral Torah, the minimum number of days in the lunar cycle is 29.53059 days, which is only 1 or 2 thousandths of a second off from modern estimates.
Debate Round No. 1


Here are my rebuttals:
See article 1, it is our objections to the Oral Torah:


Maimonides forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Not so fast, I still have some arguments.

Calendar - The Torah explains when Passover is to be observed, but not how the entire calendar works. You did not cite any verses, and neither did the page you linked.

Sabbath place - The word for place (maqom) means different things in different verses.
(Genesis 1 : 9) "And God said, 'Let the water that is beneath the heavens gather into one place (maqom), and let the dry land appear,' and it was so."
(Exodus 3 : 5) "And He said, 'Do not draw near here. Take your shoes off your feet, because the place (maqom) upon which you stand is holy soil.'"
It seems that a Maqom can be anything from an ocean to a mountaintop. It is not clear whether a man is not allowed to leave his home, town, province, country, continent, planet, etc.

Sabbath labour - It is still very ambiguous. You cannot derive from the Written Torah the answers to these questions: Is "business" (melakha) paid or unpaid work, or both? What exactly is "creating"? Is it only creating the world as in Genesis, or something else? Is it "creating" to make food? Clothes? Other items? Is writing allowed? Drawing? Are there any exceptions? What if there is a life risk? There are so many questions because of the ambiguity of the Written Torah. It is impossible that there is a Written Torah without an Oral Torah to explain it, especially since breaking the Sabbath involves capital punishment.

Slaughtering animals - Leviticus 17 says that the animal's blood must be covered with dust, but it does not explain how to slaughter. There are unanswered questions: Where to cut? With what? By who? When? What is the punishment for not doing it properly?

Time of renewal of the moon - It is much more difficult to calculate the lunar month to the thousandth of a second than the length of a year to the minute. There are about 525,600 minutes in a year, but over 2.5 billion thousandths of a second in a lunar month. Also, Rabban Gamliel said that he received this knowledge from his ancestors, not from mathematicians or astronomers.

Moses wrote everything - When the Torah says that Moses wrote down everything, it is referring to a very specific portion. For example, in Exodus 24 : 3, Moses wrote down only the commandments of separation and setting boundaries, as implied by two facts: 1. In the previous verse, the rest of the Jews are told not to ascend the mountain. 2. This is before the official giving of the Torah, which is in verse 12.

Haggai - When the Jews returned to Jerusalem with permission from the Persian government to rebuild the Temple, Haggai tested the priests on their knowledge of the laws of purity. He asked them the following two questions (Haggai 2 : 12-13): "If a man is carrying a sacrificial flesh in a fold of his garment, and with that fold touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, will the latter become holy?... If someone defiled by a corpse touches any of these, will it be defiled?" The answers to these two questions are not in the Torah. How were the priests to know the answers if not from an oral tradition?

The Oral Torah will never be forgotten - (Isaiah 59 : 21) "'As for Me, this is My covenant with them,' says the Lord. 'My spirit, which is upon you and My words that I have placed in your mouth, shall not move from your mouth or from the mouth of your seed and from the mouth of your seed's seed,' said the Lord, 'from now and to eternity.'"
Debate Round No. 3


Sabbath place:

Consistently, Maqom is used to refer to a specific place set apart from another by some geographic way. One has water the other doesn’t, one ground is holy the other isn’t.

Sabbath Labor:

This one is incredibly stupid to argue, it’s like saying “but these tax codes- what defines a dollar?” Work is always used to describe productive labor, something that someone would pay you for, that is what Joseph was doing, that’s what the creation is.

The slaughter of animals

Leviticus 17 set up that the animal has to be drained of all blood, one of the regulations for slaughtering animals. Second it has to be killed humanely, those are the regulations.


Actually, this law is in the Torah, Numbers 19:22 says:

“Anything that an unclean person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening."

So you said that something is not in the Torah while it really is in the Torah to validate the Oral Torah for the second time.

The Oral Torah will be forgotten:

Isaiah 59:21 is not referring to the Oral Torah, because Joshua 1:8 says:

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

This verse clarifies that it is the Written Torah that will not leave your mouth, not the Oral Torah.



Sabbath place - You have to be more specific. "A place set apart from another in some geographic way" is ambiguous. Someone would read it and interpret it as "this town", but someone would interpret it as "this island" or "this continent" or "everything on this side of the river." If someone comes and argues for the latter, you will not be able to disprove his claim using only the Written Torah.

Sabbath labour - Again, this is ambiguous. Someone can make the argument that if work is done for free, it is allowed, and you will not be able to disprove this claim. Do you really want to risk breaking the Sabbath?
The Torah says that fire is not allowed. Does that only include fire in the conventional sense, or does it also include electricity?

The slaughter of animals - Deuteronomy 12 clearly speaks of slaughtering animals for food. Draining the blood in Leviticus 17 is only referring to sacrifices that are brought to the Mishkan. About slaughtering for food, Leviticus 17 only says to cover the blood with dust. The questions remain unanswered. How to properly slaughter an animal? Where to cut? With what? By whom? etc.

Haggai - Haggai specifically asks, "Should a man carry contaminated flesh IN THE SKIRT OF HIS GARMENT, if it touches in his SKIRT..." This question is not answered in Numbers 19, or anywhere else in the Tanakh.

The Oral Torah will never be forgotten - Joshua 1 : 8 was referring specifically to the Book of Deuteronomy, which was completed on the last day of the life of Moses. Isaiah 59 : 21 was referring to the Torah as a whole (the Written and the Oral) and so was (Isaiah 51 : 16) "And I placed My words into your mouth, and with the shadow of My hand I covered you, to plant the heavens and to found the earth and to say to Zion [that] you are My people."
Debate Round No. 4


Sabbath place:
Well it's simple, if place is defined as an area which is set apart from elsewhere by some way, since it says you shall not leave your place, possessive, it is refering to the area which is set apart from everywhere else that belongs to you. So you cannot leave your property on Shabbat.

Sabbath Labour:
No, this word is always used to refer to productive activities, something that someone would pay you for, not something that someone IS paying you for.

The slaughter of animals:
What meal are we supposed to eat for dinner if it is the 17th of may on a leap year? The Torah doesn't contain instructions for how to celebrate leap year! How amigous the Torah is! It doesn't tell you how to cut the animal because it just doesn't, just like what to eat for dinner on the 17rth of may, it isn't an instuction. The Torah says to kill animals as G-d commanded us to, what is that? Drain all the blood out and kill it humanely, that's IT.

No, it says if something touches something unclean hat thing is unclean, including skirts.

Can you prove that Isaiah 59:21 is refering to the Oral torah? It says "the words I've put in your mouths," which is also used to refer to the written Torah in Joshua 1:8, all this is is circumstantial evidence.


Sabbath place: You are inconsistent with your explanation of this verse. In your Google Docs response you say, "Thus it means your town," but in your last response you say, "So you cannot leave your property." Which one is it? Property or town? This only demonstrates the verse's ambiguity.

Sabbath labour: "Melakha" is not always used for something you would pay for. When King Solomon built the Temple, it is called "Melakha." (2 Chronicles 5 : 1) "Now all the work (Melakha) that Solomon did for the House of the L-rd was completed, and Solomon brought his father David's hallowed things, and the silver and the gold and all the vessels he deposited in the treasuries of the House of G-d." Building the Holy Temple in Jerusalem is not something that is done for money.

Also, a person who was born into slavery and worked his entire life for no pay would not understand, "Something that someone would pay you for."

Slaughtering animals: Leviticus 17 is about slaughtering animals for sacrifice. Deuteronomy 12 is about slaughtering animals for food. (Deuteronomy 12 : 20-21) "When the L-rd, your G-d, expands your boundary, as He has spoken to you, and you say, 'I will eat meat,' because your soul desires to eat meat, you may eat meat, according to every desire of your soul. If the place the L-rd, your G-d, chooses to put His Name there, will be distant from you, you may slaughter of your cattle and of your sheep, which the L-rd has given you, as I have commanded you, and you may eat in your cities, according to every desire of your soul." Leviticus 17 does not explain how to slaughter an animal for food.

Haggai: Numbers 19 says, "Whatever the unclean one touches," which is referring to a person. Haggai says, "and with that fold touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food," which is referring to an object. Haggai"s question is not, "If the priest touches bread, will it become holy?" but rather, "If the priest touches bread WITH THAT FOLD (of his garment), will it become holy?"

Perhaps I cannot prove that Isaiah 59 is specifically referring to the Oral Torah, but it certainly eliminates any doubt about whether or not the Oral Torah will never be forgotten.

New arguments:

(Leviticus 26 : 46) "These are the statutes, the ordinances, and the Torahs (Torot) that the L-rd gave between Himself and the children of Israel on Mount Sinai, by the hand of Moses." The word "Torah" is in its plural form (Torot), which implies that more than one Torah was given.

(Nehemiah 13 : 15-17) "In those days, I saw in Judea [people] treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing stacks [of grain] and loading them on donkeys, and also wine, grapes, and figs, and all types of loads and bringing them to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, and I warned them on the day they sold provisions. And the Tyrians [who] sojourned there were bringing fish and all [types of] merchandise and selling on the Sabbath to the people of Judea and in Jerusalem. And I quarreled with the dignitaries of Judea, and I said to them, "What is this bad thing that you are doing-profaning the Sabbath day?" They are profaning the Sabbath day by either selling or carrying things. Neither selling nor carrying is a restriction from the Written Torah, so it could only be from the Oral Torah.

When the Jews returned from Babylon, some of them brought non-Jewish wives and children. (Ezra 10 : 3) "And now, let us make a covenant with our G-d to cast out all the wives and their offspring, by the counsel of the L-rd and those who hasten to [perform] the commandment of our G-d, and according to the Law it shall be done." This implies that the children of Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers are non-Jews. Ezra says that this is according to the Law (Torah), but it cannot be found in the Written Torah.

(Numbers 8 : 4) "This was the form of the menorah: hammered work of gold, from its base to its flower it was hammered work; according to the form that the L-rd had shown Moses, so did he construct the menorah." How are we to know how the menorah was made if the only description is, "according to the form that the L-rd had shown Moses"?

(Exodus 12 : 1-2) "The L-rd spoke to Moses and to Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year." When is this? How are we to know when the first month is?

(Exodus 21 : 24) "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot." Is this to be interpreted literally or metaphorically?

(Jeremiah 17 : 21-22) "So said the Lord: Beware for your souls and carry no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring into the gates of Jerusalem. Neither shall you take a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day nor shall you perform any labor, and you shall hallow the Sabbath day as I commanded your forefathers." Should we not literally carry a burden on the Sabbath day, or not figuratively carry a burden? Without the Oral Torah, you can only speculate about the answer to this question.
Debate Round No. 5
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by airmax1227 3 months ago
Vote by Theguy1789 removed

RFD: In comments

- Airmax1227 Moderator
Posted by Theguy1789 3 months ago
1.Calendar- Pro claims that what months to celebrate holidays on are not specified, con claims that the Torah has a lunar calendar based on the moon, pro responds by saying that there are no verses to support this, and con drops this point in round 4. This point goes to pro.
2.Sabbath place- Pro claims that when the Torah says you should not leave your place during the Sabbath it does not specify place, coin responds by citing how the Torah says "his" place, and that this means that it is referring to the place that is his, his property, Pro drops this in round 5, this point goes to con.
3.Sabbath labor- Pro claims that work is not specified in the Torah, con refutes this by citing how every time that this word used for "work" is used, it is referring to productive activity, then that work is something that someone would pay you for. Pro responds to this by asking if unpaid work counts as work, con refutes this by citing how it is something that someone would pay you for, not that they are paying you for. This point goes to con.
4.Slaughter of animals- Pro claims that how to slaughter an animal is not specified in the Torah, con refutes this by citing Leviticus 17, pro responds by citing how this chapter only says to sprinkle the blood with dirt, then asks where you are supposed to cut. Con refutes this by citing how the Torah doesn"t say where to cut because this isn"t a commandment, but doesn"t account for how Leviticus 17 doesn"t provide many instructions for slaughter, this point is a tie.
Con got 2 points and pro only got 1, so I must vote for con.
Posted by harrytruman 3 months ago
you are allowed to present new arguments sure as long as there is room for me to respond.
Posted by Maimonides 3 months ago
Am I still allowed to present new arguments at this point or am I only allowed to rebut existing arguments?
Posted by harrytruman 4 months ago
No it's not.
Posted by Bennett91 4 months ago
Using Google Docs is against the rules.
Posted by Ketuvim 4 months ago
The Oral Torah is false.
Posted by harrytruman 4 months ago
Actually, I neither accept nor deny the Oral Torah, I believe it needs to be tested before we can say either way
Posted by Maimonides 4 months ago
I assume that you do not believe in the Oral Torah. Do I begin with my argument now, or is the first round just for acceptance and stating beliefs?
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