Talmud vs Torah: Difference and Comparison

The two most pivotal religious manuscripts of Jews are Talmud and Torah. However, it is easy to get befuddled between the two, given the similarity in their names.

But it is worth noting they play very different roles in a Jew’s religious journey.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Talmud is a collection of Jewish laws, customs, and interpretations, composed of the Mishnah and the Gemara, providing a framework for living a Jewish life.
  2. The Torah, also known as the Five Books of Moses, is the foundational text of Judaism, containing religious laws and narratives.
  3. While the Torah is considered divine and unchangeable, the Talmud represents centuries of rabbinical debate and interpretation to apply the Torah’s teachings to daily life.

Talmud vs Torah

The Torah is the primary holy scripture of Judaism, describing the creation of the world, the history of the Jewish people, and the laws and commandments that Jews are expected to follow. The Talmud is a collection of writings that comment on the laws and teachings of the Torah, composed of two main components: the Mishnah and Gemara.

Talmud vs Torah

Another key difference is that when Moses went to Mount Sinai, it is believed that he received 2 Torahs, one written and another oral. The oral Torah, now known as the Talmud, was thus written down much later.


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According to Jewish tradition, Talmud is pivotal in educating Jews about their ethics, culture, and roots. At the same time, Torah is a manuscript comprising five Mosses books. Talmud is a compilation of discussions and lectures by Rabbis over 400 years.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonTalmudTorah
Original versionOral TorahWritten Torah
Another nameBabylonian TalmudPentateuch
Compilation ofof discussions and lectures by Rabbis over 400 yearsFive books of Mosses or the first five books of the Hebrew Bible
MeaningInstructions or learningTo guide or Teach
Written during13421312 BCE


What is Talmud?

Talmud, also known as the Babylonian Talmud, is a compilation of the lectures and discussions between the Rabbis. In Jewish culture, Rabbis are considered the most knowledgeable and insightful of their religion.

Talmud for long was only passed on from generation to generation as verses describing the written Torah. This was thus originally known as the oral Torah until it was put down in pen and paper over 400 years.

Talmud means “instructions” or “learning”, and it is one of the most important religious books in the Jewish religion. Talmud is a very profound collection of the laws and literature that defines their religion and is written in short verses.

There are two kinds of Talmud, the Babylonian Talmud and the older version known as the Jerusalem Talmud. The Jerusalem Talmud is a detailed analysis of Mishnah over 200 years and was written down by the sages of Academies in Galilee.

The Babylonian Talmud was written over 300 years by the sages Rav Ashi and Ravina II in Babylonia. Although both the Talmuds are the results of a detailed Mishnah analysis, they differ significantly.


What is Torah?

Torah is a collection of five books, i.e. the Book of Genesis, the Book of Exodus, the Book of Leviticus, the Book of Numbers, and the Book of Deuteronomy. These books are considered to be passed to the Mosses when they visited Mount Sinai.

Some also believe that these writings in the Torah were dictated by God and written by Moses. However, the last eight verses differ in this scenario; they are deemed to have been written by Joshua as they talk about the death of Moses.

The Torah is translated to be “to guide”, “to teach”, “to instruct”, and later into “law”. It was initially of two types, a Written Torah and an Oral Torah.

The oral Torah was an explanation of the written Torah, passed along to the generation only verbally with the Rabbis. The script of the Torah starts at the beginning of the world as God creates it and ends with Moses’ death, and all along, it preaches the laws and beliefs that the Jews consider their religious and civil law.

The Torah was also alternately called the Pentateuch because it is a collection of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. According to scholars, the Torah was written in 1312 BCE, and it was written in Hebrew.

However, some scholars also believe that several sages wrote it over the years and have been edited several times.


Main Differences Between Talmud and Torah

  1. The main difference between Talmud and Torah is that Talmud is an anthology of the oral Torah. In contrast, the Torah refers to the written Torah passed on from generation to generation.
  2. Talmud plays a pivotal role in educating Jews about their ethics, culture, and roots, while Torah is the written manuscript comprising five Mosses books.
  3. Talmud means “instructions” or “learning”, whereas The Torah is translated to be “to guide”, “to teach”, “to instruct”, and later into “law”.
  4. According to scholars, the Torah was written in 1312 BCE and Hebrew, whereas The Talmud was written down twice in the 4th century and second in the 6th century.
  5. Talmud for long was only passed on from generation to generation as verses describing the written Torah, whereas Torah was written by the sage Moses and dictated by God.
Difference Between Talmud and Torah

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=LXByzyf-mFIC&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=Talmud+and+Torah&ots=4v3AempF7w&sig=pt6OSmIF5hfLUdydjtgNnE-cyEA
  2. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdfplus/10.1086/491277
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