What are the views of Rishonim and their predecessors regarding the scope of תורה שבכתב, Written Law. This has ramifications for halachos such דברים שבכתב אי אתה רשאי לאומרן ,בעל פה in addition to simply understanding various talmudic dicta about the Written and Oral Laws. Which of the following does it include: Torah, Prophets, Writings?

Rambam seems to write fairly clearly (Laws of Torah Study 1:12) that the Written Law includes Divrei Kabbalah (usually translated as Prophets and Writings)

וְדִבְרֵי קַבָּלָה בִּכְלַל תּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב הֵן

However his language elsewhere (Laws of Fast Days 4:7) implies that his usage of "Divrei Kabbalah includes only Prophets; not Writings.

וּמַתְחִיל לְהוֹסִיף שֵׁשׁ בְּרָכוֹת שֶׁהוּא מוֹסִיף זוֹ אַחַר זוֹ. וּמִתְחַנֵּן בְּכָל אַחַת מֵהֶן בְּדִבְרֵי תַּחֲנוּנִים וּפְסוּקִים מִדִּבְרֵי קַבָּלָה וּמִכִּתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ כְּפִי שֶׁהוּא רָגִיל וְחוֹתֵם בְּכָל אַחַת מֵהֶן בַּחֲתִימוֹת אֵלּוּ

(This inference is noted by the Yeshu'os Malko commentary thereon).

Accordingly, the Written Law would include only Chumash and Neviim-not k'suvim.

  • 1
    Isn't the fact that, just like דברים שבכתב אי אתה רשאי ... so also דברים שבעל פה אי אתה רשאי ... show that Kesuvim must be among the דברים שבכתב? Otherwise it couldn't be written down? Not that this is dispositive for all uses of the term, but I think clearer evidence that the terms have unequal usage would be required to distinguish.
    – Yishai
    Apr 29, 2015 at 20:07
  • The Revid Hazahav (cited by @wfb) indeed cites this as one of the proofs of those who hold that neviim and kesuvim are included in Torah Shebiksav.
    – mevaqesh
    May 1, 2015 at 2:49
  • anything explicitly not in the toro is not daoroitho. it is darabbonon. halokho la mosha misinai and divrei sofarim are darabbonon. May 1, 2015 at 3:43
  • I am aware that you are referencing Rambam's view on Divrei Sofrim (glad he still has a view ardent fans). However, I dont see how this is particularly relevant. Rambam's view concerns the authority of various sorts of statements; e.g. derashos. I am asking a separate question; whether Nach counts as Torah Shebiksav. Even if it is, it would remain divrei kabbalah and not divrei Torah.
    – mevaqesh
    May 1, 2015 at 3:49
  • It may be worth noting that the Mekhilta uses the term Qabalah when referencing Ketuvim as well as Nevi'im: In Bo, Parashah Heh "ve-Aleyhem Meforash ba-Qabalah Gan Na'ul Achoti Khala (Shir ha-Shirim 4:12)" (line 17); in be-Shalach Parashah Beit "Alav Meforash ba-Qabalah ha-Chokhmah Ta'oz le-Chakham ...(Qohelet 7:19)" (line 2) and "... Alehem Meforash ba-Qabalah Yonati be-Chagvei ha-Sela ... (Shir ha-Shirim 2:14)" (line 11).
    – Tamir Evan
    May 11, 2015 at 19:28

4 Answers 4


The Gemara in Kiddushin (30a) says that a father is obligated to teach his son "mikra, not mishnah." Rava there says "mikra" means "Torah." Rashi explains that this means Chumash, and not Nevi'im or Ketuvim. However, the Rambam codifies this halachah as an obligation to teach one's son "Torah shebichtav kulah," which the Bach, Taz, Shach and Gra understand to mean as all of Tanach (Yoreh De'ah 245). Based on this, the Revid ha-Zahav (a member of the beis din of Vilna at the time of the Gra) argued that whether Nevi'im and Ketuvim are part of Torah shebichtav or Torah shebe'al peh is a dispute between Rashi and the Rambam (see Revid ha-Zahav, hakdamah, no. 1, and Parashat Va'etchanan). (However, see R. Yaakov Kaminetzky's Mevo le-Limud ha-Mikra in Emet le-Yaakov al ha-Torah in which he explains the Rambam's position differently.)

This may also relate to a dispute between the Rambam and the Ra'avad at the end of Hilchot Megillah (2:18). The Rambam, basing himself on the Yerushalmi, says that of all of the books of Tanach, the only ones that will remain at the end of days are the five books of the Torah and Megillat Esther. The Ra'avad takes issue with the Rambam's understanding, and says that all the books of Tanach will remain, but will not be read in public. The Acharonim explain that according to the Rambam, the other books of Tanach may be considered to be essentially "Torah shebe'al peh" inasmuch as their message is only based on the needs of the time (see Nedarim 22b: אמר רב אדא ברבי חנינא: אלמלא לא חטאו ישראל, לא ניתן להם אלא חמישה חומשי תורה וספר יהושע בלבד; Ta'anit 9a: יתיב רבי יוחנן וקא מתמה אמר מי איכא מידי דכתיבי בכתובי דלא רמיזי באורייתא; Rashi, Chullin 137a: תורת משה קרויה תורה לפי שנתנה תורה לדורות ושל נביאים לא קרי אלא קבלה שקבלו מרוח הקדש כל נבואה ונבואה לפי צורך השעה והדור והמעשה). The Ra'avad, on the other hand, may hold that all the books of Tanach are part of Torah shebichtav.

Another relevant issue may be whether there is a concept of "mitzvat keriah" for Nevi'im and Ketuvim. The Gemara in Berachot 5a says ״תורה״ זה מקרא וכו׳ ״אשר כתבתי״ אלו נביאים וכתובים. Rashi explains, זה מקרא, חומש שמצוה לקרות בתורה. The Maharsha explains Rashi's view: תורה זו מקרא, דהיינו גוף התורה, והיא נקראת מקרא בכל מקום בל׳ התורה, ובזו המסכת שהיא תתלת ש״ס בא לפרש, דע״כ נקראת התורה מקרא בלישנא דתלמודא בכל מקום, על שם שמצוה לקרות בה, והיינו דבעי לקרותה בכתב בנקודותי׳ ובפיסוק טעמיה וכו', ואמר אשר כתבתי זו נביאים וכתובים, דגם אלו נתנו ליכתב, אבל אין בהן מצות קריאה כמו בתורה וק״ל. In other words, according to Rashi as explained by the Maharsha, there is a distinction between Chumash, which must be read appropriately, and Nevi'im and Ketuvim which do not require this level of care. However, the Beit Yosef (Orach Chaim 61) cites the Radak who argues with Rashi and maintains that one must read carefully throughout Tanakh: והרב ר׳ דוד קמחי כתב שבכל עת שיקרא אדם בתורה נביאים וכתובים צריך לזהר, אבל הזהירו בק״ש וה״ה לכל קריאה וכו׳. See this discussion by R. Yehuda Heshel Levenberg, citing R. Meir Soloveitchik.

See also Rabbenu Gershom Temurah 14b: דברים שבכתב: תורה נביאים וכתובים, vs. Tosafos ibid. s.v. דברים שבכתב. For additional sources, see עינים למשפט ברכות דף ה עמוד א; גברות יצחק, הלכות תלמוד תורה א:ז. I have not seen any sources that distinguish between Nevi'im and Ketuvim regarding this issue.

Rashi in Kohelet (12:10) comments: וכתוב יושר – זה תורה שבכתב והנביאים. This implies that Rashi holds that תורה שבכתב does not include נביאים, which is consistent with how the Revid ha-Zahav understood Rashi.

  • Thank you very much. This actually answers the question! Could you by any chance get links to the revid hazahav or emet y'yaakov?
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 30, 2015 at 4:19
  • added links--Emet le-Yaakov is from Otzar ha-Chochmah, starting on page 13 in the doc
    – wfb
    Apr 30, 2015 at 15:19
  • Where can I find the Einayim Lamishpat and Gevuras Yitzchak?
    – mevaqesh
    May 1, 2015 at 2:46
  • OK, I added those links too.
    – wfb
    May 1, 2015 at 3:08

Here an anonymous source sheet for one of the maggidei shiurim in that Yeshiva quotes the Radbaz (שו"ת מכת"י ח"ח סימן י) as saying that it applies to all Torah, Nevi'im and Kesuvim.

The Mordechai (ערובין סימן תקיג) says that Haftorah's are part of written Torah that fall under the issue of being said by heart.

Sefer HaItim סימן קפח also says that Haftorah's are included.

Note in the latter two cases they are discussing specifically a question about saying them by heart and are just silent on the question of Kesuvim.


רמב״ם ־ הלכות תלמוד תורה א:יב

ודברי קבלה בכלל תורה שבכתב הן

Which the Avodas Hamelech sources:

ודברי קבלה בכלל תורה שבכתב הן. קדושין מ"ט קרא אנא עד דקרי אוריתא נביאי וכתובי וכו

(The Divrei Yirmiyahu also interprets the Rambam in this case as referring both to Neviim and to Ksuvim.)

  • Part of why I am asking is because in his intro. to MT he implies somewhat that only Torah is included. Similarly one could infer this from his minyan hamtzvos in the beg. of Hil. Mamrim #3. I was bothered by the contradiction.
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 24, 2015 at 22:02
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    According to the Avodas Hamelech who cites the gemara in kiddushin as the source, the implication is that he included all of Tanach.
    – Loewian
    Apr 24, 2015 at 22:04
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    Possibly. Alternatively, the Rambam might not always use the same terminology consistently and context is necessary to interpret his intention.
    – Loewian
    Apr 24, 2015 at 22:20
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    @mevaqesh You should always include what research you've already done in the question. That way innocent answerers don't get "but XYZ" comments like your first one above
    – Double AA
    Apr 24, 2015 at 22:26
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    With regard to דברים שבכתב, there is a dispute among different Ba'alei Tosafos whether the prohibition applies to נו"כ. See Tosafos in Bava Kama 3b and in Temurah 14b.
    – wfb
    Apr 26, 2015 at 18:42

In his commentary to Kohelet (12:10), Rashi references "the Written Law and the Prophets"

ד"ה וכתוב יושר: זה תורה שבכתב והנביאים

This strongly implies that the Written Law only includes only the Chumash.

This is implied by many many other Rishonim as well, including the Torat Haminha (p. 605)

נמצאת למד ענין צדיק ורע לו רשע וטוב לו רמוזים בתורה שבכתב ורמוזים בדברי נבואה

There are a couple of sources that use the term to include all of Tanakh, including R. Abraham Abulafia who writes (1):

ועשרים וארבעה ספרים תורה שבכתב

Similarly, R. Meir Ibn Gabbai who lived at the close of the period of the Rishonim writes clearly that the Written Law includes all of Tanach. (Avodat Hakodesh ch. 22).

והנה תורה שבכתב כוללת תורה נביאים וכתובים

(1) Otsar Eden Ganuz (vol. 2 p. 52), Jerusalem, 2010.

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