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Biblical Faith – with Shmuel “Sam” Peak
Weekly series with new shows available every Tuesday.

“Handbook of the jewish thoughts”

The Oral Torah was handed down by word of mouth from Moshe to Joshua, then to the Elders, the Prophets, and the Great Assembly. The Great Assembly was the Sanhedrin led by Ezra, at the beginning of the time of the second Temple, which undertook to enact legislation that would make Judaism viable in the Diaspora.

The Great Assembly codified much of the Oral Torah in a form that could be memorized by the students. This codification was known as the Mishnah (משנה). One reason for this name was that it was meant to be reviewed (shanah, שנה, to repeat) over and over until memorized. The word also denoted that the Mishnah was secondary (sheni, שני) to the written Torah.

It was required that the oral tradition be handed down word for word, exactly as it had been taught. The sages who taught the fist Mishnah were known as Tannaim (תנאים), Tanna (תנא) in the singular. This word comes from the Aramaic word tanna (תנא) equivalent to the Hebrew shanah (שנה), meaning to repeat.

Although the Oral Torah was meant to be transmitted by word of mouth, it was permissible to keep personal records. Therefore, many individuals would write down personal notes of what was taught in the academics. This was especially true of teachings that were not often reviewed. Many also added marginal notes to the Biblical scrolls which they used to study.

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