Rabbinic judaism

21.05.2018 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

Rabbinic Judaism is the main form of Judaism that arose at the end of the codification of the Babylonian Talmud in the sixth century.

It is also called Rabbinism and Talmudic Judaism. The teaching developed at a time when many of the ancient religious rites (including sacrifice) became impossible for the Jews.

Rabbinism has many differences when compared with other Jewish denominations, such as Samaritanism and Karaite Judaism.

Fundamentals of the doctrine

According to religious scholars, it was during the Talmudic period of Judaism that the beginning of the main denominations of Judaism emerged – those that still exist today. There are many differences between them, but all these beliefs are based on rabbinic traditions.

Followers of this movement are called the Rabbanites.

Rabbinic judaism

A departure from the former belief in Moses as in the highest “our rabbi” is at the heart of Talmudic Judaism. The personality of the prophet began to be viewed from the other side — as a man who masterfully handled the Laws of God. Rabbis now focused on the activities of religious communities and schools, realizing that the key to the revival of Judaism lay in the intellectual desire to know the true meaning of the scriptures.

Despite the departure from previous beliefs, the saints are not ignored in Rabbinism. They occupied a significant place in Jewish life during the first centuries of rabbinic Judaism and were displayed in sacred texts. However, even in those, the saints largely appeared to believers as individuals who knew how to interpret the Torah correctly. The Rabbis emphasized that even though the saints existed, only the rabbinic method should be the preferred path for the nation.

Rabbinism also recognizes the fact that along with the Sinai revelation and the Pentateuch, God revealed the Oral Torah to people. Its principles were passed down from generation to generation until the Mishnah and numerous Baraita collections were created based upon this knowledge.

Written and oral torah

The Talmudic period in Judaism began after the destruction of the main Temple and the subsequent upheavals. This theory is described in detail in the Letter of Sherira Gaon. Followers of Judaism then faced a new reality, for the old system of oral beliefs could not be preserved. Thus, gradually, the Oral Torah began to take shape. It was obvious to the Rabbis that the era of prophecy, and therefore direct revelation from God, was over. Now all knowledge must be obtained through interpreting the written and oral Torah.

Written and oral torah

The ideas of Rabbinic Judaism are based on the fact that written commandments cannot be properly understood without reference to the Oral Law. All the relevant creeds are contained in a narrative describing God who communicates his knowledge and religious laws to the Jewish people through Moses. All instructions in the written Torah, positive and negative, are nonspecific and necessarily require either the Oral Torah or another method for understanding them.

The importance of the “clarifications” from the Mishnah, which include all the provisions of the Oral Law, can be traced back to many of the laws of the Written Torah – for example the taboo on any “creative work” (Melakha) on Saturdays. In the Written Torah, there is no explanation of how to interpret the concept of “creative work”, but in the Oral Law, there is its practical application. It is the same with the commandment “you shall not steal”. The Oral Torah explains what theft is, and what responsibility awaits one who succumbs. .

The Oral Laws are sometimes called the “fence around the Torah”. Here are the rules that are designed to prevent violations of the laws of the main Jewish postulates.

The differences between rabbinic judaism and karaism

Rabbinism has historically always been contrasted with Karaism, which originated in the eighth century. The main difference between Judaism and Karaism is that Karaite Judaism does not recognize the Oral Torah as a divine authority. It does not use any special principles for the interpretation of sacred texts.

The doctrine of Karaism is based on the fact that every believer is able to interpret the Mosaic laws independently, based on his/her knowledge and life experience. The Karaites call themselves supporters of the true teachings of the Bible. In their opinion, in the Talmud and the Oral Law – which Rabbinists are guided by –  biblical Judaism is grossly distorted. The beliefs of the Karaites are based on the Tanakh (Old Testament). However, religious scholars say that some of God’s laws in the Tanakh are similar to the Talmudic.

Некоторые последователи раввинизма называют караимов саддукеями, которые в своих верованиях придерживаются только законов, прописанных в Торах Моисея. Они не признают воскрешения мертвых и возмездия в потустороннем мире. Напротив, караимы отрицают это мнение.

Rabbinism, in comparison with other Jewish denominations, has its own characteristics and is opposed to Karaism. The recognition of the Oral Torah as the main explanation of the Talmud is the main feature that distinguishes this belief.