Online Adult Jewish learning

Foundations Course Information:

Course InfoDetailsSyllabusSample Lecture
Other Courses in this Series:

Foundations 1: Foundations of Judaism

Foundations 2: Responsible Leadership

Foundations 3: Encounters with G-d

Foundations 5: Divine Providence

Foundations Series:
Oral Torah & Midrash

Pre-course Information Packet


The Oral Torah and its relationship to the Written Torah

  1. G-d Distinguishes between the Written and Oral Torahs
  2. Primacy of Oral Teachings: Hillel "converts" a convert
  3. Reasons for both a Written and Oral Torah
    1. Weakness of Text Only Study
    2. The Torah is Timeless
    3. The Torah is for All
    4. The Torah Unifies
    5. Preserving Judaism's Distinctiveness
  4. Components of the Oral Torah

Historical transmission of the Oral Torah (part 1)

  1. How Moses received and transmitted the Torah
  2. How the accuracy of Oral Torah is preserved
  3. Transmission of the Oral Torah during the Biblical era
  4. The dedication of Torah scholars in post-biblical times

Historical transmission of the Oral Torah (part 2)

  1. Development of the Text of the Mishnah
  2. The Final Editing of the Mishnah
  3. The Braisas and the Tosefta
  4. Did Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi Actually Write the Mishnah?
  5. The Development of the Gemara

The Role of the Rabbis in Oral Torah

  1. The Concept of the Sages' Authority to Legislate New Religious Rules
  2. The extent of the Sages' authority to create and control Torah law
  3. What if there is popular opposition to a particular enactment?
  4. When did the Sages begin enacting these additional laws?

Non-legal components of the Oral Torah - Aggadah and Kabbalah

  1. What is Aggadah?
  2. The Veracity of Aggadic Passages
  3. What is Kabbalah?
  4. Texts Used in the Study of Kabbalah
  5. Examples of Kabbalistic Concepts