The unbroken passage of the Oral Torah as a whole is the foundation stone of Rabbinic Judaism.

Of course, there are many mentions of rabbis learning from other rabbis, for example, the beginning of Avos - succeeding couples "received" from previous ones.

I am looking for any written testimonies (not speculations) by leading Tanakhic characters: judges, kings, elders, or later rabbis and sages of receiving "the oral Torah" in whole from their teacher.

Do any of the Rishonim or Achromin ever testify that?

  • According to Rashi, the last to do so would seem to be Yose ben Yoezer and Yose ben Yochanan: sefaria.org/…
    – N.T.
    Sep 12, 2021 at 4:36
  • Why do you need that one rabbi received it in whole from a teacher? Why can't it have been part by this one and part by that one? In any case, it is my clear impression from the Rambam's hakdamah to his peirush hamishnah that the norm was that every rabbi received the oral Torah in whole, until the end of the time of the tannaim when it became increasingly impossible. (You mentioned Rishonim like the Rambam but I'm not sure why that helps?)
    – MichoelR
    Sep 13, 2021 at 20:58

1 Answer 1


The Gemara Sukkah 28A mentions about R' Yochanon Ben Zakai that he never said over anything that he did not hear from his teachers;

אָמְרוּ עָלָיו עַל רַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי: מִיָּמָיו לֹא שָׂח שִׂיחַת חוּלִּין, וְלֹא הָלַךְ אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת בְּלָא תּוֹרָה וּבְלֹא תְּפִילִּין, וְלֹא קְדָמוֹ אָדָם בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ, וְלֹא יָשַׁן בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ לֹא שֵׁינַת קֶבַע וְלֹא שֵׁינַת עֲרַאי, וְלֹא הִרְהֵר בִּמְבוֹאוֹת הַמְטוּנָּפוֹת, וְלֹא הִנִּיחַ אָדָם בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ וְיָצָא, וְלֹא מְצָאוֹ אָדָם יוֹשֵׁב וְדוֹמֵם אֶלָּא יוֹשֵׁב וְשׁוֹנֶה, וְלֹא פָּתַח אָדָם דֶּלֶת לְתַלְמִידָיו, אֶלָּא הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ, וְלֹא אָמַר דָּבָר שֶׁלֹּא שָׁמַע מִפִּי רַבּוֹ מֵעוֹלָם,

A little further on, the Gemara lists all the things he learned;

אָמְרוּ עָלָיו עַל רַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי שֶׁלֹּא הִנִּיחַ מִקְרָא וּמִשְׁנָה, גְּמָרָא הֲלָכוֹת וְאַגָּדוֹת; דִּקְדּוּקֵי תוֹרָה וְדִקְִדּוּקֵי סוֹפְרִים; קַלִּים וַחֲמוּרִים וּגְזֵרוֹת שָׁווֹת; תְּקוּפוֹת וְגִימַטְרִיָּאוֹת; שִׂיחַת מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת וְשִׂיחַת שֵׁדִים וְשִׂיחַת דְּקָלִים; מִשְׁלוֹת כּוֹבְסִין, מִשְׁלוֹת שׁוּעָלִים; דָּבָר גָּדוֹל וְדָבָר קָטָן. זדָּבָר גָּדוֹל — מַעֲשֵׂה מֶרְכָּבָה. דָּבָר קָטָן — הֲוָיוֹת דְּאַבָּיֵי וְרָבָא.

So here is one Tanna that learned the entire Oral Torah from his teachers.

As noted in the comments, even though it does not explicitly say that he learned it all from his Rebbe, it is inferred from the fact that the Gemara would have no other way of knowing that he knew everything unless he actually said it over to people, since he never said anything that he did not hear from his Reebeim he must of learned all of it from them as well.

  • THank you, I thought about this example, but it says absolutely nothing about what he learned from his rabbi(s). He didn't utter anything he didn't hear, but this doesn't mean he didn't learn anything he didn't hear, and he learned lots of things. If the latter description was applied to his rabbis it would be bingo. But unfortunately, those are two unrelated accounts.
    – Al Berko
    Sep 12, 2021 at 15:51
  • @alberko I thought of this issue as well. However, how would the Gemara know what he knew if he never mentioned it? The only way anyone knew what he learned was if he mentioned it and he only mentioned things he heard from his teacher. Hence, he learned everything from his teacher
    – Chatzkel
    Sep 12, 2021 at 15:53
  • Wow, this is a nice move! I wish I could give you +5. You should put it into the answer.
    – Al Berko
    Sep 12, 2021 at 19:07
  • Now seriously, 1. who was his rav, anyway? 2. He was a Nassi, but he wasn't in Rambam's lineage of the 40 generations IIRC, 3. How come he enacted so many things as a Nassi that he didn't hear from his rabbi: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yohanan_ben_Zakkai#Enactments
    – Al Berko
    Sep 12, 2021 at 19:10
  • 1. His Rebbi was Hillel Hazaken as mentioned in that Gemara in Sukkah 28A
    – Chatzkel
    Sep 12, 2021 at 19:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .