The Talmud’s authority in Judaism

There is a general misunderstanding among Christians and Muslims. It is the misleading notion that Judaism is a ´biblical religion´, that the Old Testament has the same central role and legal authority in Judaism as the Bible has for Protestant or even for Catholic Christianity. The legal interpretation of sacred texts is rigidly defined in Judaism – but more the Talmud than by the Bible itself (Shahak 1994). The Talmud’s primacy over the Bible can be seen in the case of Ethiopia’s black Jews. The Ethiopians have a lot of knowledge about the Old Testament. However, their religion is so ancient that it dates from the Talmud, about which the Ethiopians have no knowledge. The New York Times wrote: „The problem is that the Ethiopian Jewish traditions go no further than the Bible or Torah; the later Talmud or other comments that form the basis of modern traditions never crossed their path. ”[1] Because they are not well versed in the Talmudic traditions, black Jews from Ethiopia are discriminated against and are prohibited from marriages, funerals or to do other things in the Israeli state. It is the natural consequence of Jewish belief that the Talmud prefers the Torah. The Talmud says: To carry out funerals or other things in the Israeli state. It is the natural consequence of Jewish belief that the Talmud prefers the Torah. The Talmud says: To carry out funerals or other things in the Israeli state. It is the natural consequence of Jewish belief that the Talmud prefers the Torah. The Talmud says:
Erubin 21b (Soncino edition): “My son, be more careful when you listen to the words of the scribes than with the words of the Torah.”

Rabbi Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz is the founder of the Israeli Institute for Talmudic Publications and enjoys the backing of Israeli Presidents and Prime Ministers; he received the most honorable award from the Israeli people: the Israel Prize. He is currently translating the Talmud into English, French and Russian. He writes:
“If the Bible is the cornerstone of Judaism, the Talmud is the central pillar that rises from the foundation and supports the entire spiritual and intellectual building. In many ways, the Talmud is the most important book in Jewish culture, the backbone of creativity and national life. No other work has a comparable influence on the theory and customs of Jewish life, the design of spiritual content, and it serves as a guideline for behavior. ”[2]

“Historically, the Talmud is the central pillar of Jewish culture. This culture has many facets, but each of its many aspects is somehow related to the Talmud. This is really not from the literature that deals directly with the interpretation or continuation of the Talmud, but also with all other forms of Jewish creativity. ”[3]

The importance of the Talmud and its authority can be understood if one looks at Universal Jewish Encyclopedia reads:
“The Talmud is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable literary productions ever. It is an encyclopedia that encompasses the whole scene of human life. It is almost impossible for someone who has not spent years studying this complex work to get an idea of ​​its nature, because even the most accurate translations cannot grasp the inner spirit of the Talmud … as the source of the oral law the Talmud’s authority is considered divine by Orthodox Jews and therefore he is considered binding and unchangeable. Conservative and Reformed Jews, however, do not recognize the Talmud’s absolute commitment, although they recognize the great role he played in determining Jewish religious ideas and days of remembrance. ”[4]

Herman Wouk is an author who has won a Pulitzer Prize for eleven novellas, three prints and two non-fictional works. In his book “This is My God; the Jewish Way of Life ”, which appeared in the 1959 New York Herald Tribune as a series, he wrote:
“ The Talmud is still the circulating lifeblood of the Jewish religion to this day. Whatever laws, customs, or ceremonies we adhere to – whether we are orthodox, conservative, reformed, or just spasmodic sentimentalists – we follow the Talmud. It is our general law. ”[5]


The role of the Talmud in contemporary Judaism

The Talmud is not an ancient document without relevance to modern Judaism. On the contrary, the Encyclopedia Britannica tells us that with the rebirth of a Jewish nation-state in 1948 and the revival of Jewish culture, the Talmud has taken on new importance. Orthodox Judaism has always focused on its studies and viewed it as an absolute religious authority. It became one of the goals of the religious (orthodox) Jews to introduce the Talmud law there as a general law of the state. With the exception of Israel, the legal system described above continued in Jewish communities to this day. The jurisdiction of rabbinical courts is voluntarily accepted by Orthodox Jews. These courts continue to have authority especially in the family and in nutrition, in the synagogue and in charitable organizations and social activities. In addition, conservative Jews have always held on to the Talmud. Therefore, a network of day schools and higher learning institutions was established, in which the Talmud plays a major role in the curriculum. Numerous young conservative Jews are now looking for answers to their problems in the Talmud. [6]


[1] NY Times: Sept. 29, 1992, p.4
[2] Rabbi Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz, The Essential Talmud, p.3.
[3] Adin Steinsaltz, The Essential Talmud, trans. Chaya Galai (New York: Basic Books, 1976) 266
[4] Herschel Revel, Librarian of the Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, New York, The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, sv “Talmud,” Volume 10, p. 165.
[5] Herman Wouk, This is My God; the Jewish Way of Life Quoted by Elizabeth Dilling in ´The Jewish Religion: Its Influence Today´, p. 2.
[6] “Talmud and Midrash.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006.


Source: https://www.islamland.com/deu/articles/die-autoritt-des-talmud-im-judentum