I read this: http://messiahsmandate.org/four-proofs-there-was-no-oral-torah/

He gave 4 reasons why Oral Torah doesn't make sense. Most notably

  1. It's too easy to corrupt
  2. Moses himself wrote that he wrote everything up
  3. Jews themselves jot that down knowing that it's too easy to forget or corrupt otherwise
  4. There are periods that even the Written Torah is gone. (Actually this is so suspicious I seriously suspect that Josiah made the whole thing up and Torah could have been written or compiled by Josiah).

I must admit that his reasoning is quite reasonable. So what would Judaism answer to those 4 problems?

Btw I am an agnostic. Neither a Jew, nor a Christian.

  • Downvoting BC op has been on this site long enough to know this question has basically been asked before. Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 13:22
  • @ClintEastwood If this is true, please vote to close and indicate a duplicate question. Your comment implies an unknown personal bias.
    – DanF
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 14:00
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    Agreeing with @Danno. But assuming preference to the question title, I can give an opinion from one Jew - me. All 4 points sound unsubstantiated. I esp. don't understand the 4th point, namely that "the written Torah is gone". WHat does that mean? I read from the Torah at least every 3rd day. It's very much in front of me to look at.
    – DanF
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 14:04
  • @DanF that is referring to Yoshiyahu etzion.org.il/en/… scroll down to "YOSHIYAHU FINDS A SEFER TORAH"
    – rosends
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 14:12
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    I finally had a moment to look around on that site you linked to, Jim. Those Jews For Jesus/Yeshua/Ploni sites say the darndest things trying to "prove" their agendas! ..but close scrutiny tends to make their days miserable--"no dupes today, maybe I'll try this approach.."
    – Gary
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 21:47

3 Answers 3


The OP references 4 specific arguments against the validity of an oral law as they appear in a linked article. This answer will address the article's points.

1) It's too easy to corrupt- The article claims that since humans tend to bungle perfect communication without writing it down, therefore there can be no authentic preserved oral law. An example is given about a wife who sends her husband to the store. If a list is not written, then wrong items will be purchased or correct items forgotten. This is known as the "broken telephone" argument.

Answer: When one person tells one person something, it can be mistakenly repeated. However, if his wife sent 100 people to the store and asked each of them to buy the very same 5 items, we would easily know who made a mistake as the vast majority of people will return with the correct 5 items. In case of mass communication, an oral law is actually the best verification of facts there could be!

A nation that teaches a set of oral rules to all their children as a religious duty is a mass population communicating to a mass population. Things will tend to be very accurate. Mistaken individuals will obviously be corrected by the masses.

2) The article quotes a verse which occurred slightly before the 10 commandments were given which reports that Moses wrote all the words of G-d. Other supporting verses are brought showing that the Torah was written. So, where is the oral law?

Answer: First of all, that verse appears before the entire Torah was given. Even the article's author must admit that the 10 commandments were not yet written in that verse either! The oral laws came later on Mt. Sinai. during the revelation and the 40 days and nights.

Also, the oral law has to do with correct interpretations. Any book's interpretations, are by definition, not included in its writing. So if I told you that "I wrote all G-d's words down.", that doesn't mean I also wrote all the explanations and clarifications of anything.

3) The oral law is open to corruption by the leaders. So how can we think we now have a true oral law?

Answer: First of all, The OP's question is just as good when aimed at anyone's written laws! People in power can change the books and sell their new copy! Did all ancient populations know how to read?? Sometimes only the priests did. How easy was that to change? When it is a religious duty of the masses to recite and memorize things orally, you can't cook the books so fast.

A society with only a written law is vulnerable to the risk of falsification on some level. A society with only an oral law is also subject to the risk of falsification on some level. However, a society that has both a written and oral law, is highly insulated against falsification. It is a check and balance system that defends itself.

4) The article sites the incident in Tanach where King Josiah "..finds the Scroll of the Law in the Temple..". The claim is that Josiah wrote the Torah, and made it all up. Specifically, he invented the Passover laws.

Answer: The Torah scroll in the story was a special copy of the Torah kept in the Temple. The people under previous Kings Amon and Menashe, fell into idolatry. King Menashe had tried to suppress the correct worship of G-d and did not safeguard ancient scrolls in the Temple properly. King Josiah was happy to "find" the scroll because he didn't think it would be easily found after the previous two kings controlled the Temple.

However, any claim that he invented Passover laws or the idea of a ritual Passover rite which the people never heard of is absolutely absurd.

Joshua 5 and II Chronicles 30 both describe great Passovers in history that the Jews celebrated (under Joshua and King Hezekiah respectively). No one claims that Josiah discovered the "Book of Joshuah" in the Temple. :) King Hezekiah reigned right before his son Menashe and was true to G-d and His Torah. Therefore, the people in the time of King Josiah, knew what Passover was, but they just fell into lax observance during the time of Menashe and his son Amon.

Anyone who draws absurd conclusions from the "found the scroll" story is making a mistake due to lack of scholarship. King Josiah did not live in a vacuum. :)

I hope this helps. :)

  • When it is a religious duty of the masses to recite and memorize things orally, you can't cook the books so fast. Demonstrating that this was the case; particularly in Biblical times, would strengthen this arguement.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 21:08
  • The book of Chronicles was composed after Josiah...|| Even is Passover preceded Josiah, I am not sure how we know that he didn't write the Torah and incorporate preexisting Jewish practices into it.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 21:11
  • And Josiah claim that he learn something from the scroll that he didn't know before. It looks as if the scroll was the only copy.
    – user4951
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 13:06
  • Re point 1, people were also allowed to write down notes for themselves, it's just that the Oral Law was never written down and codified.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 21:02
  • @Jim.. What verse shows that he learned something he didn't know before? Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 23:32

I highly recommend you read "Permission to Receive" by Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen who discusses this in tremendous depth.


It seems to me that Americans and Protestants view that there is no oral Torah because they have a new belief supposedly called "sola scriptura" which means that everything is in the Bible. Unfortunately, they rely on a lot of tradition, but they are ignorant of that reliance, but either way, not the point. From a historical perspective it makes no sense that there would be no oral torah.

Europeans (and then therefore Americans) during the rise of Protestantism were not big on oral traditions, nor passing down stories orally. This is in stark contrast to every tribal people from the Middle East, the Far East, Native Americans, Aztecs/Mayans, Pacific Islanders, etc etc. All old tribal peoples have something in common, very few could read, and most stories and understandings are passed down orally, either via song or recitation. They are also passed down by either heads of household, special oracles, or by people who were tested and proven to be able to memorize and recite information without changing it.

So regardless on what your personal stance on the authenticity of what the oral Torah says, it's actually MORE unlikely that there would be no oral traditions being passed down in the tribe of Judah. It would be a shocking anomaly if there was no oral Torah at all.

So for me personally, I find the Catholic/Karaite view to be more sensical. Whatever Oral Tradition there might have been, it went off track somewhere.

  • I am not a protestant. I am an agnostic. Sola scriptura is an opinion of Martin Luther.
    – user4951
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 13:07
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    Wait, Karaites believe in an Oral Tradition? Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 5:32
  • 2
    @Shmuel Brin “Rejection of the authority of the Talmud does not mean that the Karaites consider it unlawful to consult it or to rely on it; it means only that they deny its heavenly origin and regard it as an original work of the Sages in interpretation of the written Torah, and therefore subject to the shortcomings inherent in any handiwork of mortal men uninspired by heaven. - See more at: karaites.org/…
    – Aaron
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 18:59

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