Evolution of Halacha

Where did it all begin?

Written Law

Torah: The Torah was given to Moses on Mount Sinai at approximately 1250 BCE, it consists of the five books of Moses and the biblical laws of Judaism. The Torah has 613 commandments, 248 being positive and 365 being negative. the term "Torah" can mean the skeleton of Jewish law. This includes the Written and the Oral Law.

Nevi'im: Nevi’im (Prophets) presents Israel's History as a nation on its land.It is dived into two major parts: four books of the "Former" prophets and 14 books of the "Latter" prophets.

Ketuvim: Ketuvim, the name of the third section of the Tanach ,means "Writings",Most of the individual books in Ketuvim were written or at least put in final form in Judea during the period of Persian and Hellenistic rule, from the fifth through the second centuries BCE.

Oral Law

Mishnah: The Mishnah covers discussions and decisions of the scholars/Rabbis from approx. 200 CE. Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi edited and wrote down the Mishnah around 200 CE. It is divided into 6 sections, each one dealing with a different purpose.

Gemara: Three centuries following the compilation of the Mishnah, rabbis throughout Eretz Yisrael and Balbylonia analysed, debated and discussd that work, these were all recorded in the Gemara

Commentators: Commentaries are there to help us understand the Torah and Talmud and contribute to the study and teaching of earlier texts. Several commentators such as Rashi, Rambam and Tosafot are still well known today because of their contributions and explanations.

Codes: The large amount of information written on Jewish law brought about the need to codify the material, separating the Halachic decisions from discussions and arguments and record the Halachic decisions. The most famous codes of Jewish law are Shulchan Aruch which was composed by Rabbi Yosef Karo in the 1560's as well as the Mishneh Torah which was composed by Rambam.

Responsa: Responsa are the answers given by authorities in Jewish law to questions put to them. Collections were made of the Geonic Responsa, especially those of Sherira Gaon and his son Hai Gaon, but while these collections were known to the medieval authorities they did not appear in print until as late as the nineteenth century.