The existence of the term "Halachot LiMosheh MiSinai" hints on the fact that some Halochos are not derived / can not be derived from Torah in any way but Moses received them orally. Because if it was, they would be just as all other Halochos learned from the Torah.

I can't reconcile that with the idea of the completeness of the Torah in the eyes of Moses. I'm trying to visualize that - Moses coming down the mountain and saying: "Here's the scroll of Torah, BUT there are Halochos not written/hinted here and I keep them in my head." And that sounds absurd.

How the idea of Halochos leMoshe miSinai can be reconciled with the completeness of the Torah in Moses' eyes? (I'm assuming there are lots of Halochos that the later Rabbis or we can't derive from the written Torah).

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    Who says the Torah was complete? The fact that there are halachos l’moshe misinai proves that it isn’t complete.
    – Lo ani
    Apr 2, 2019 at 18:19
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    "completeness of the Torah in the eyes of Moses" what are you referring to? Did you read that somewhere?
    – robev
    Apr 2, 2019 at 18:34
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    – Joel K
    Apr 2, 2019 at 18:37
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    Where does it say that Moses came down from the mountain with a complete Torah scroll? He came down with 2 tablets with 10 commandments. It's pretty explicit throughout the Torah that Moses recorded many laws in the Torah well after the revelation at Sinai.
    – Loewian
    Apr 2, 2019 at 19:14
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    The existence of an Oral Law, Halachos L'Moshe MiSinai aside, should disprove that the Written Law is incomplete. Why does this particular aspect of the Oral Law bother you so much?
    – DonielF
    Apr 2, 2019 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


Your question comes from two points, that:

(a) Halachos L'Moshe MiSinai are not hinted to in the Torah

(b) that these halachos are therefore outside of and external to the Torah, and the completeness of the Torah would not allow for such a thing.

In terms of the first point, while that is clearly the opinion of the Rambam in his Introduction to the Mishna (8:22):

ועל כן כל דבר שאין לו רמז במקרא ואינו נקשר בו ואי אפשר להוציאו בדרך מדרכי הסברא עליו לבדו נאמר "הלכה למשה מסיני"

There are those who question the Rambam' assertion. For example, in אור זרוע לצדיק R' Tzaddok writes:

עוד כתב רבינו שם דהלכה למשה מסיני אין לו רמז בקרא, וגם על זה אני תמה מהא דסוכה ל"ד... ועוד קשה לי מהירושלמי

The Rambam writes further that _Halacha L'Moshe MiSinai has no hint in Scripture, and also on this I am surprised, for we find in Sukka ... and in the Yerushalmi ...

Regarding the second point, I think a comment of the Alshich on Devarim 17:11 might help address the question, regarding the injunction to listen to the Sages:

אשר יגידו לך - הלכה למשה מסיני, וגם אם לא יהיה לה טעם בעיניך, וכאומרים על שמאל שהוא ימין, כי במה שאומרים בהיקש או על פי מדות שהתורה נדרשת וגזירות וסייגים בודאי נראה הטעם

"That which they tell you" - Halacha L'Moshe MiSinai, and even if you don't see any reason for it, and when they tell you about left that it is right. For, in that which they tell you through a juxtaposition, or through one of the methods of expounding the Torah, and fences, certainly one sees a reason.

What I understand the Alshich to be saying is, that Halacha L'Moshe MiSinai is a very important part of the Torah itself, namely in that it demonstrates that there are some things which are to be accepted simply because they are coming through Rabbinic tradition, and Rabbinic tradition is an essential facet of the Torah. Halachos L'Moshe MiSinai, not in content but in concept, are included in the Torah, in the injunction of אשר יגידו לך. An element of the completeness of the Torah is the inclusion of the Mesora on which it relies.

  • IMSMC there is a Radak(?) that claims that one can derive the HLMMS from the verses and Rabbi Soloveitchik said about the claim that he viewed it as heretical, but would still include the Radak in a minyan.
    – Loewian
    Apr 3, 2019 at 4:28
  • @Loewian if you could find such a Radak for me, I'd excitedly add it to my answer! Apr 3, 2019 at 4:30
  • and not the view of Rabbi Soloveichik?!
    – Loewian
    Apr 3, 2019 at 4:30
  • @Loewian With all due respect to Rav Soloveichik, I have a Rambam who is quite explicit about that point. A Radak over a R' Tzaddok, on the other hand (with all due respect to R' Tzaddok, he's quite a bit late in the game), would be a qualitative improvement. Apr 3, 2019 at 4:32
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    @Loewian that caveat doesn't seem to affect the point of this post. And, A R' Soloveichik vs. a Radak does not invalidate the Radak. A machlokes Rishonim is far more significant to me than a late late contemporary figure pointing at a Rishon and yelling heretic. Apr 3, 2019 at 4:35

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