In reference to this comment on the Worldbuilding.SE question, "What educational resources could help someone who knows they will time travel to the future?":

There is little resemblance between medieval and modern Rabbinic Judaism and the Temple Judaism of the antiquity. For a simple example, Temple Judaism has priests and sacrifices; Rabbinic Judaism has neither priests nor sacrifices. That's one massive difference. For another example, Temple Judaism had nothing even remotely resembling the Talmud and the extremely complicated system of rules and regulations which give Rabbinic Judaism its distinctive color. The entire very elaborate system of halakha is post-classical.

What traditional Jewish sources (if any) would seem to support the contention that Judaism evolved from so-called "Temple Judaism" to so-called "Rabbinic Judaism"?

  • To clarify, are you asking if there really is little connection (according to possibly some sources) between modern Judaism and ancient Judaism?
    – Harel13
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 6:11
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    @Harel13 My belief (and I use the word only because I don't feel I have the tools to fully evaluate it ATM) is that halacha -- and thus the essential foundation of Judaism -- is the same as it always has been since G-d gave us the Torah at Sinai. My question is what sources would seem to imply otherwise, with the assumption that such an implication is due to a shallow or mis-understanding of the source.
    – Zev Spitz
    Commented Apr 21, 2020 at 20:04
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    "Rabbinic Judaism has neither priests nor sacrifices" is ridiculous. The only reason we don't bring sacrifices is because the Muslims are in the way.
    – Heshy
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 22:55
  • @Heshy Well, there's also the fact that we don't have kohanim meyuchasin, for one thing.
    – Meir
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 1:05
  • @Meir That's only a rabbinic impediment.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 12:46

4 Answers 4


The place to look for this is in Collected Writings of Rav S.R. Hirsch, the volume on Oral Law (I think Vol. 5 but I can't check it.)

The volume is divided into two parts.

The first part is a critique of H. Graetz's "History of the Jews" the volume discussing the evolution of the Oral Law.

The second part is a critique of Zechariah Frankel's "Darkei Mishna".

In both parts, Rav Hirsch quotes the authors citing various sources and drawing mistaken conclusions.

He then shows why their approaches are mistaken and brings proofs to that effect, and explains the correct understanding of the texts.

If you want a sampling of traditional sources which can be misunderstood to mean that there was a transition from "Temple Judaism" to "Rabbinic Judaism" check out the volume.

One example: Graetz builds a lot upon the assumption that Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai came to do exactly this. In post-churban Judaism, RYbZ felt the need to shift the focus from the Beis Hamikdash to Torah study. Graetz then brings a number of sources which could superficially be understood to mean this is what he did.

Rav Hirsch then quotes those sources in their context, shows how Graetz misinterpreted them, brings other sources to buttress his arguments, and then explains what RYbZ actually came to do.

And while it's a shame that both Graetz and Frankel were kofrim, they at least knew a lot. Thus they quote sources from all over the place- albeit improperly. As a result, Rav Hirsch is literally bringing from all over Shas Bavli, Yerushalmi, Tosefta, masechtos ketanos and more in order to discuss and refute their claims.

Thus this work is the best one for anybody who wants to see authentic sources which could be misinterpreted, while also seeing the proper way to read them as well.

  • How could you call Graetz and rabbi Frankel kofrim when both were observant Jews? Heinrich Graetz was even a famous Jewish historian and scholar.
    – Turk Hill
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 1:09
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    @TurkHill What does one have to do with the other? If a person keeps Shabbos and kashrus and tefillin, is honest in business, etc., but believes that there are two gods, then his mitzvah observance doesn't make him any less of a min. Same thing, as the Rambam (whom you particularly like quoting) says, a person who "denies the interpretation of the Torah, namely the Oral Torah, or denies the authority of its transmitters, as Zadok and Boethus (the founders of Sadduceanism and Boethusianism) did" is a kofer, whether he actually keeps the mitzvos or not.
    – Meir
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 1:09
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Turk Hill
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 1:53
  • This may not be true as scholars say that this was not the origin of the Sadduccees. The high priests (Sadduccees) in Second temple times were not members of the family of Tzadok. On the contrary, Tzedukim means “the righteous ones.”
    – Turk Hill
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 6:36
  • @TurkHill Sorry, source for the claim that "Tzedukim" means "righteous ones" and not "of Tzadok" (referring to the Sadducean sect)?
    – Yehuda
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 15:25

I have posed this question to 2 different judaic studies professors. Since these were private conversations I cannot disclose who they were. Both are very respected in their fields. One studies rabbinic literature and the other bible, and they both gave me more or less an identical response, which to me lends it more credence:

Early research into this topic was done at a time when few jews were in academia. Further, many academics were Christian and wanted to bifurcated rabbinic Judaism from second temple Judaism as a pro Christian polemic. Modern academics today reject this view as biased and untenable instead assuming a much closer relation between the 2.

In other words, the answer to your question is: none. That doesn't mean there are no differences between pre and post the churban, just that the complete bifurcation between the 2 periods is a fabrication.


Not a complete answer, but here is a source that hints it:

משנה הוריות ג ח

אבל אם היה ממזר תלמיד חכם וכהן גדול עם הארץ, ממזר תלמיד חכם קודם לכהן גדול עם הארץ.

Mishna Horayot 3:8

If The Mamzer is Talmid Hacham , and the prime priest is Am Haartz the Mamzer takes precedence [to be released from kidnappers]

בבלי הוריות יג א

מה"מ א"ר אחא ברבי חנינא דאמר קרא (משלי ג, טו) יקרה היא מפנינים מכהן גדול שנכנס לפני ולפנים

Babvli Horayot 13:a

Where it comes from? Rabbi Aha son of Rabbi Hanina says: the verse (Proverbs 3:15) says [the Tora] is more important than pearls (Hebrew: Pninim) - Meaning from the prime priest who enters to the interior [Kodesh HaKodashim] (Hebrew: Lifnai U'Lifnim)

  • I'm not sure why this is relevant -- it's stating only that ransoming a Torah scholar takes precedence over ransoming the high priest, and only because Torah is more precious than the service of the high priest. Why would anyone conclude from this that Torah / Judaism has evolved in some way?
    – Zev Spitz
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 16:55
  • @ZevSpitz Some might will say you are absolutely right, some will call you naive. Where in Vaykra, that praises the priests, there is a hint that a scholar is more impotent? Commented May 5, 2020 at 17:51
  • Are you saying that Chazal placed higher importance on Torah scholars in order to promote "Rabbinic Judaism"? I would suggest you make that connection explicit in your answer.
    – Zev Spitz
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 18:59
  • @ZevSpitz I say things change. Also, if Chazal hinted that, why would I say it explicitly? Commented May 5, 2020 at 19:47
  • Hopefully you are aware that you are not Chazal, and also that your audience is a slightly different one.
    – Zev Spitz
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 22:04

Normally anceint books by well-respected rabbis work for sources. Although this is not an anceint book, I think it is well-written and might contian the sources you're looking for.

Rabbi Binyamin Lau's four volumes called “The Sages” explains the development of the Oral Law by the Pharisees and Rabbis. He feels that the changes were made because of the necessities of the later time. He does not criticize the rabbis since the changes were made in the spirit of the Torah and that a careful reading of the Torah shows that it wants to be updated. For example, Maimonides felt that G-d neither needs nor wants sacrifices but “allowed” sacrifices to continue. But this is not an ideal mode of worship and will not be reinstituted when people become more sophisticated. You could apply the same to the laws of slavery, rape, and captive women. In short, we are not Torah Jews but Rabbinic Jews.

  • 6
    Presumably both you and Binyamin Lau pray three (and sometimes four and five) times a day that G-d should "restore the service to the inner rooms of Your House, and the sacrifices of Israel and their prayers speedily, with love You will accept with desire" -- והשב את העבודה לדביר ביתך ואשי ישראל ותפלתם מהרה באהבה תקבל ברצון. Assuming you aren't lying when asking for this, I'm curious to know what verbal gymnastics you would use to explain it.
    – Zev Spitz
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 19:05
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    @TurkHill no, it's really not. You've said that several times but you don't bring a single example of prayers that contradict each other. There are peripheral parts like piyutim but the core parts of the siddur are quite consistent.
    – Heshy
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 1:19
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    @TurkHill "Tzdokim" comes from the name of the progenitor of the group, a man called Tzadok. Presumably his parents hoped he would be righteous, but from what the gemara tells us about him and his followers, it doesn't sound like either of them lived up to the name.
    – Harel13
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 5:02
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    @TurkHill if that's the case then it shouldn't be hard for you to find two prayers that contradict each other.
    – Heshy
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 10:39
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    @TurkHill the comments were deleted but I'd like to challenge you again: can you find two prayers that existed in Rambam's version of the prayers that contradict each other?
    – Heshy
    Commented Apr 19, 2020 at 11:55

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