Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Question for Rob Vanhoff

I just would like to know where Torah Resource stands on this issue and so my question for Rob is simple:

Do you agree with the following quote from David Stern?

"The common Christian idea that Judaism became 'degenerate' because human tradition was added to God's Law is mistaken.  The five books of Moses have rightly been called the constitution of the Jewish nation, but a nation needs more than a constitution.  There could never have been a time when tradition of some sort was not a necessary adjunct to the written Torah -- for the written Torah simply does not contain all the laws and customs needed to run a nation.
      For this there is evidence even in the Pentateuch.  Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 12:21 that the people of Israel could slaughter animals 'as I have commanded you,' but no commands concerning how to slaughter are found anywhere in the written Torah.  Something external is implied--legislation, tradition, an oral Torah.  God could announce his will from heaven whenever uncertainty arises, but this not his normal means of guidance either in the Old Testament or in the New.  Nothing in the Bible suggests that God opposes accumulating knowledge and experience or creating guidelines and rules,
"  pg. 148 of Messianic Jewish Manifesto by David Stern


  1. I will bring your post up to Rob on this weeks Rob & Caleb show, I wanted to first ask you this. You keep speaking about Oral Torah as if its monolithic. Which Oral Torah are you talking about?

  2. Thanks, Caleb. To answer your question, I don't see the Oral Torah as monolithic which is why I invented some new language so that we can speak about it more precisely. The distinction I've added is "core" vs. "peripheral". Mr. Stern appears to be referring to core Oral Torah in the above quote--those parts of tradition that are "necessary" (to use his words) for understanding the written Torah.

    So the more nuanced question (to reflect the reality of an oral tradition that is not monolithic) for Rob Vanhoff is this:

    Do you believe that there is a necessary core oral Tradition (i.e. a tradition that as David Stern says is a necessary adjunct to the written Torah)?

  3. Definition section:

    Core Oral Torah: those oral traditions that are a necessary adjunct to the written Torah

    Peripheral Oral Torah: gezerot and takkanot. This category would presumably include things like the rabbinic purity model behind ritual handwashing (which Yeshua said was flat out wrong).

  4. Rob Vanhoff has responded to your question. You can find his response at this link: http://torahresourceblog.com/is-there-a-core-oral-torah/