Nach - Neviyim and Kesuvim was written way after the revelation at Sinai. Why is it considered as part of Torah Shebiksav (written Torah) and not as Torah Shebaal Pe (Oral Torah)?

  • many books in the nabee'eem and kathubeem were written by a later generation. – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Apr 23 '14 at 17:11
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    @MoriDoweedhYaa3gob: and thus the question – Gershon Gold Apr 23 '14 at 17:14
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    How do you know they are so considered? What does it even mean to be considered that? – Double AA Apr 23 '14 at 19:10
  • @GershonGold the mishnayoth were oral too but were written down by later generations. still considered baa3l pah. – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Apr 23 '14 at 20:20
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    Just for the record, there is no dagesh in the כ in בכתב. – Double AA Apr 24 '14 at 3:43

One difference between torah she-bi-khtav and torah she-b-al peh is form:

  • a fixed, finite text, with every letter counted and the number of letters never changing, for torah sh-bi-khtav


  • a fluid communication of meaning, with continual expansion over time, and continual change to meet and absorb the particularities of everyday life in new times and places, for torah she-b-al-peh

Nevi'im and Ktuvim have that fixed, set form (even if they have a different status than Humash)--the number of letters and words in each book set and limited and never added-to or changed.

  • "a fixed, finite text, with every letter counted and the number of letters never changing, for torah sh-bi-khtav" is false. -1 Source: ספרי דברים פרשת וזאת הברכה פיסקא שנו – Shmuel Apr 24 '14 at 22:04
  • Quote from source: שלשה ספרים נמצאו בעזרה אחד של מעונים ואחד של היא היא ואחד נקרא ספר זעטוטים באחד כתיב מעון אלהי קדם ובשנים כתיב מעונה אלהי קדם, בטלו חכמים את האחד וקיימו השנים, באחד כתיב תשעה היא ובשנים כתיב אחד עשרה היא בטלו חכמים את האחד וקיימו את השנים באחד כתיב וישלח את זעטוטי בני ישראל, ואל זעטוטי בני ישראל, ובשנים כתיב +שמות כד ה+ וישלח את נערי בני ישראל +שם /שמות כד/ יא+ ואל אצילי בני ישראל בטלו חכמים את האחד וקיימו את השנים. – Shmuel Apr 24 '14 at 22:08
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    Why wouldn't the חכמים let the alternative ones stand, unless they were operating on the premise that 'fixed, finite text' is the way it has to be? – paquda Apr 25 '14 at 0:41
  • The חכמים may have thought that was ideal, but in reality, variant texts existed. Then again, we have a whole system of k'ri-ketiv\alternate versions, indicating that maybe they didn't think so at all. – Shmuel Apr 25 '14 at 0:45
  • In other words, if the חכמים thought a "fixed finite text" is ideal, why did they let the alternate spellings\pronunciations stand, instead of just eliminating the 'wrong' one entirely? – Shmuel Apr 25 '14 at 0:46

Torah sheBichtav refers to books written while there was still Nevua and\or the Jews lived in Israel with a Beit Mikdash. Torah sheBaal Peh refers to anything written after the end of this holy era, and also includes any discussion and interpretation of sheBichtav.

Let's flip the question around:

Why is Yehoshua (and the rest of Neviim Rishonim) not part of "Torah," as they appear to be a simple continuation of the story? If Devarim, which is Moshe's speech (and thus wasn't revealed at Sinai), is part of Torah, then why isn't Yehoshua or Shmuel, which are Yehoshua's and Shmuel's narrative and speeches, respectively?

The answer to this, and to your question, is that at some point in Jewish history some books were accepted as "super-holy" (or similar, can't really express it), and were raised to a new level. They were then categorized as such, and no new books were allowed to be added to them.

This happened in several stages. The first stage was for Torah, which was "closed" when the Jews entered Israel. The second stage was for Neviim, which was closed with Churban Bayit Rishon (appx) and the end of Nevua. And the third stage was Ketuvim, which was closed with Churban Bayit Sheini. (This also explains why Daniel, for example, is part of Ketuvim and not Neviim.) After the destruction of both Batei Mikdash, that era of holiness and prophecy was over, and no new books could be added to Torah sheBichtav at all.

Source: Yeshiva University's Intro to Bible class

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    Which "Intro to Bible class"? There are a number of different ones taught at that institution. – Double AA Apr 24 '14 at 3:44
  • Based on notes found here: swapnotes.com/showCourseProf.jsp?cpid=823&id=4206 (registration required) – Shmuel Apr 24 '14 at 3:48
  • @Shmuel actually the close was the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah at the start of the second temple era. That is why Esther was accepted but there are no Kesuvim for Chanukah – sabbahillel Apr 24 '14 at 11:26
  • @sabbahillel Perhaps. It all depends on your chronology. – Double AA Apr 24 '14 at 13:28
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    Also, it's unclear when Esther was written\took place. Finally, even after the Churban there was still discussion about which books are "meTamei Yadiim" etc, indicating that canonization was a process that took some time to complete. – Shmuel Apr 24 '14 at 22:00

Rashi on Malacha 1:1 "The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel in the hand of Malachi"

"in the hand of Malachi" - [Rashi] It was already delivered into his hand for many days. From here, our Sages expounded in a baraitha of Mechilta that all the prophets stood on Mount Sinai and there the prophecies were delivered to them, and so [Isaiah (48:16)] says: “From the time it was, there was I, and now, the Lord God has sent me, [and His spirit].”

hence, just because it was written later does not mean it did not already exist in some form.

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    When did the prophets stand on Mount Sinai? This Midrash seems to discuss where they got their prophesies not when they got them. – Double AA Apr 27 '14 at 9:28
  • @DoubleAA we can assume at sinai means when all the jews were assembled there to receive the torah. if it was a different time it should have been stated explicitly. – ray Apr 27 '14 at 17:44
  • And you think that the Oral Law didn't exist 'in some form' from the time of Moshe Rabbeinu? – הנער הזה Jul 27 '14 at 3:51

"Torah sheb'al peh" refers to the explanations that accompanied the 1st Five Books (Breishit - Devarim). This was eventually written into what we have as the mishna, with gemarrah being an explanation on this. I am uncertain if any of the books of either Nevi'im (Prophets) or Ketuvim (Writings) would even be considered "Torah Shebichtav" or they are a separate category.

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    This sounds like a comment to me, not an answer. – Gershon Gold Apr 23 '14 at 17:20
  • I don't know of anyone who thinks 2/3rds of Tanach isn't sheBichtav. – Shmuel Apr 24 '14 at 22:09

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