The Evolution of Jewish Law

Year 10 JS Toshba Assessment Task by Ronit Better 10c

Written Law - Is written by many different people. There is evidence to prove the written law and because it is written it can't be changed or altered and you are able to refer directly to it.

Written Law

The Written Law is know as the Tanach.

the Tanach is made up of the Torah(chumash/Pentateuch/ 5 books of moses), nevi'im (prophets), ketuvim (writings).

Torah + Nevi'im +Ketuvim = Tanach

Oral Law - was initially it was not written down. the oral law is assessable which results in more learned people and an easier spiritual connection. it is also a more maluable law. the oral law explains what the written law doesn't

Oral Law

There are lots of parts to the oral laws.

some of the many parts of oral law are Mishnah, Gemara, work from the Commentators, Codes and Responsa


The Mishnah was created between 200 bce and 200 ce and is made up of the rabbi's and scholars discussions and decisions. Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi edited and wrote down the Mishnah around 200 ce. he wrote it down because jewish persecution at this time was high and the jews feared that the detail of the oral traditions would be forgotten.


The Gemara is made up of debates and discussions triggered by the Mishnah. these were done by the rabbis throughout Eretz Yisrael and Babylonia in the three centuries following the completion of the Mishnah.

The recorded discussions formed the Gemara

mishna + gemara = talmud


the commentaries help students understand the work of the Torah and the Talmud. Some of the famous commentators are Rambam, Rashi, and Tosafot


There are many volumes written on jewish law and the writings are separated and only the main points are published.

the codification makes Jewish Law more accessible to the average jews and gives a definitive answer.

the codification restricts the flexibility and diversity and doesn't leave room for interpretation.

the most famous codes of Jewish law are Shulchan Aruch by Caro and Mishnah Torah by Rambam - these were both written in the middle ages.


Responsa is when a community member asks a Rabbi a question and then they answer the asked question according to Halacha.