If God intended there to be an oral Torah, why would He say not to add anything? Shouldn't He have at least mention this exception in the Torah, so we know the Talmud is divine?

Devarim 4:2

ב לֹא תֹסִפוּ, עַל-הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם, וְלֹא תִגְרְעוּ, מִמֶּנּוּ--לִשְׁמֹר, אֶת-מִצְו‍ֹת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי, מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם.

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you (Mechon Mamre translation)

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Jay! I edited your question to add in the verse - we try to provide as much info as we can to make questions more answerable. Hope to see you around. Oct 28, 2014 at 18:58
  • Very related answers: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/38763/… Oct 28, 2014 at 19:00
  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/7236/…
    – Menachem
    Oct 28, 2014 at 20:12
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    I don't understand the relevance of 4:2. The Oral Torah isn't adding anything to God's command. It is God's command.
    – Double AA
    Oct 28, 2014 at 20:27
  • עַל פִּי הַתּוֹרָה אֲשֶׁר יוֹרוּךָ וְעַל הַמִּשְׁפָּט אֲשֶׁר יֹאמְרוּ לְךָ תַּעֲשֶׂה לֹא תָסוּר מִן הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר יַגִּידוּ לְךָ יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאל: Devarim 17:11
    – sam
    Oct 29, 2014 at 1:38

2 Answers 2


In order for the Torah Shebal Peh to be "added" to the Torah it would be necessary to conclude from independent evidence that it wasn't part of the Torah to begin with. To argue that Torah Shebal Peh is not divine because it was "added" is to either argue in a circle or merely beg the question. The verse does not proscribe adding to the "written" Torah but to Torah (whatever that would include).

  • A clever angle I hadn't thought of. +1. Oct 28, 2014 at 20:22
  • I opted to keep it simple. This is meant to only address Oral Torah in the strictest sense. I believe that Rabbinic law is a separate question, but I also believe that "exception" IS "mentioned".
    – Yirmeyahu
    Oct 28, 2014 at 20:25

Read the first 4 paragraphs toRambam's Mishneh Torah. It cites an important verse as the proof that the Torah shebichtav (written) and B'al Peh (Oral) were both given on Mt. Sinai and were both taught by Moses. The remaining paragraphs go through various generations until he explains how the Oral law became written in the form of the Mishnah.

Rather than my providing a direct answer, I think Rambam's context explains why the Oral Law is not considered "extra". Of course, it assumes that you trust his premise.

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