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.
- 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.
- The Torah, also known as the Five Books of Moses, is the foundational text of Judaism, containing religious laws and narratives.
- 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 difference between Talmud and Torah is that Talmud is an anthology of the oral Torah whereas the Torah usually refers to the written Torah that was passed on from generation to generation. In Jewish culture, it is said that to understand one scripture, the other one must be read as well.
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Another key difference is that when Moses went to Mount Sinai, it is believed that he received 2 Torahs, one in written and another oral. The oral Torah which is now known as the Talmud was thus written down much later.
According to Jewish tradition, Talmud plays a pivotal role in educating Jews about their ethics, culture, and roots while Torah is the written manuscript that consists of five books of Mosses. Talmud is a compilation of discussions and lectures by Rabbis over 400 years.
|Parameter of Comparison||Talmud||Torah|
|Original version||Oral Torah||Written Torah|
|Another name||Babylonian Talmud||Pentateuch|
|Compilation of||of discussions and lectures by Rabbis over 400 years||Five books of Mosses or the first five books of the Hebrew Bible|
|Meaning||Instructions or learning||To guide or to Teach|
|Written during||1342||1312 BCE|
What is Talmud?
Talmud also is known as the Babylonian Talmud is a compilation of the lectures and discussions between the Rabbis. In Jewish culture, Rabbis are considered as 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 it is written in the form of short verses.
There are two kinds of Talmud, the Babylonian Talmud and the older version known as 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 results of a detailed analysis of the Mishnah, they both 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 the 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 originally of two types, a Written Torah and an Oral Torah.
The oral Torah was an explanation of the written Torah which was passed along the generation only verbally with the Rabbis. The scripts of Torah start 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 during the 1312 BCE and it was written in Hebrew.
However, some scholars also believe that it was written by several sages over the years and have also been edited several times.
Main Differences Between Talmud and Torah
- The main difference between Talmud and Torah is that Talmud is an anthology of the oral Torah whereas the Torah usually refers to the written Torah that was passed on from generation to generation.
- Talmud plays a pivotal role in educating Jews about their ethics, culture, and roots while Torah is the written manuscript that consists of five books of Mosses.
- Talmud means “instructions” or “learning” whereas The Torah is translated to be “to guide”, “to teach”, “to instruct” and later into “law”.
- According to scholars, the Torah was written during the 1312 BCE and it was written in Hebrew whereas The Talmud was written down twice first in the 4th century and the second during the 6th century.
- 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.
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Emma Smith holds an MA degree in English from Irvine Valley College. She has been a Journalist since 2002, writing articles on the English language, Sports, and Law. Read more about me on her bio page.