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What constitutes as Kol Torah Kulah? I hear people saying this all the time, that this Rabbi knows "Kol Torah Kulah".

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya Moshe :) – David Kenner Dec 24 '18 at 23:51
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  • Consider Shabbos 31a – Dr. Shmuel Dec 26 '18 at 22:21
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The Shulchan Aruch HaRav says the following in Hilchos Talmud Torah (1:4):

ואפילו אינו יודע ללמוד כלל בעצמו חייב הוא מן התורה לשכור לו מלמדצח שילמדנו היטב לידע כל התורה שבכתב ושבע"פ כולה.

דהיינו תנ"ך וכל הלכות פסוקות של כל התורה עם הטעמים כי הן הן פירוש התרי"ג מצות שבתורה ודקדוקיהם בכל פרטיהם ואף שיש בהן חלוקי דעות הרי אלו ואלו דברי אלהים חיים ואפילו המצות שאין נוהגות עכשיו וגם ללמוד כל דברי חכמים שהסמיכום על מדרש הפסוקים שהן ההגדות שנאמר כי אם שמור תשמרון את כל המצוה הזאת ודרשו חכמים שלא תאמר למדתי הלכות די לי תלמוד לומר כל המצוה למוד הלכות ואגדות ומדרש שהוא התלמוד שמפרש טעמי ההלכות שבמשניות וברייתות ומקורם בדרשות הפסוקים שבתורה וההלכות שאין להן דרשה בפסוקים הן קבלה הלכה למשה מסיני או מסברא והכל ניתן למשה מסיני וכן דברי חכמים שהסמיכום על מדרש הפסוקים שהן ההגדות כמו שדרשו חכמים על פסוק ואתנה לך את לוחות האבן והתורה והמצוה אשר כתבתי להורותם ומכל מקום לימוד ההלכות קודם ללימוד ההגדות.

In short, knowing "the whole Torah" means to know all the commandments and the basic reasoning behind them, as well as the seforim of the "major Poskim" (like the Shulchan Aruch and the Rama - from the footnotes of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav, the reason seems to be that you can't claim Kim Li against them - so it seems that any Posek who no one can argue with would be in that category).

And all the Midrashim.

So while it's a lot of material, it is finite and theoretically possible to know.

  • I don't think "all the Midrashim" is correct. First of all it's not a very precise statement, there are more and less authoritative Midrashim and some we don't have anymore. Also the ShAH"R says למוד הלכות ואגדות ומדרש שהוא התלמוד שמפרש טעמי ההלכות שבמשניות וברייתות. It seems like he's limiting it to Shas. – Heshy Dec 26 '18 at 20:38
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The term means "The entire Torah".

It is an exaggeration. No one actually knows everything.

The entire Torah is all of G-d's will and knowledge. That would be infinite. Even if it meant just the published works of Torah, that would be a huge amount.

It is a term used when someone is expressing how impressed they are with a Torah scholar's seeming vast knowledge of Torah subjects.

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No doubt, it's just a metaphor that symbolizes one's proficiency in Torah study.

This simple question is very confusing, as we have difficulty to define its constituent parts:

  • What's the accepted definition of "Torah" or "the Torah"? Nobody argues that the Tanach or the Mishnah or the Talmud are included but what about vaguer topics, such as Musar and Hashkafah (ethics and worldview)? Is math a part of it? Philosophy, economics, history, biology, chemistry, agronomy, astronomy etc? Can one be considered "knowing the entire Torah" without being able to do the calculations of the New Moon?

  • What does "entire" mean? The Gemmorah in Kiddushin 29 discusses a father's obligation to teach his sons Torah - is it the 5 Chumashim alone, Neviim, Ktuvim, does it include Mishnah and Gemmorah etc. Opinions differ vastly. The same reasoning applies to the Sages - does it obligate to know all parts of the Oral Law or one can skip, say, Taharot? We do see examples of Rabbis that only studied one Seder or even one Masechet.

  • What does "knowing" mean? Is it about memorizing and reciting everything by heart? Is it the reasoning ability or following the Mitzvos? Or maybe (similar to "Adam knowing his wife") it is all about one's connection to Judaism, symbolizing that one's thought are dedicated entirely to serving Hashem?

So let's just leave it as a general metaphor.

  • You can calculate Rosh Chodesh without calculus. You don't even need algebra! (Unless you want to go billions of years in the future in which case our current calendar fails and you probably need GR.) – Heshy Dec 26 '18 at 12:39
  • He means the common noun "calculus" meaning a particular method or system of calculation or reasoning not the famous calculus of differentials developed by Newtown and leibnitz – Double AA Dec 26 '18 at 14:34

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