A Rational Approach to the Divinity of the Oral Tradition

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By eva on March 27, 2011 -- 8:37pm


By Bob Jones on March 18, 2012 -- 4:43pm

On the Lecture “A Rational Approach to the Divinity of the Oral Tradition” at the end of the Lecture is a discussion of the bhagavad gita where the result of the war is that every one dies.  I assume that this war referenced is Kurukshetra War?  I am missing something bacause in looking at the Wikipedia article on this war there were 12 survivors of this war including Krishna. 

Since the link to Wikipedia is blacklisted on you side please reference the article in Wikipedia on the Kurukshetra War.  The reference is at the very end of the article in the last section called “Aftermath”.

So here 11 people survive this war and could be witnesses to Krishna and get the whole thing going.  Granted 11 is not a lot of people but it is more than 1 or 2.

So what am I missing?


By sipon sohag on April 25, 2012 -- 3:32am

i looks it with attendtively…it have many importants information for a innocent jews life….

By Bernard Ross on August 19, 2012 -- 10:14pm

Dear Mr. Kellerman, Your lecture was interesting but I had a divergence of thought.  Your example for proving oral tradition “How to slaughter animals”  re “I taught you”; it is assumed that the teaching must be oral or written.  However, this would have been a human limitation and G_d is not limited to human abilities but must encompass at least more.  If we can imagine an action then it must be assumed that G_d can perform that action and even greater actions. G_d may be imagined to teach in an instantaneous, as opposed to a linear fashion(oral or written): in other words just as a file icon on a computer, or microdot, can contain enormous information and all of that information can be instantaneously transmitted so can G_d teach.  In an instant G_d could have transmitted the information and thus taught without oral actions.  Further, your discussion of the Zohar stating 600,000 torahs were given to the 600,000 men and/or families.  your analogy was focused on written torahs as we would imagine them to be.  However, G_d could transmit the torahs as 600,000 genes or as anything else he wanted, or even with no material form.  The Torah may be information with a dversity of interpretation that is unimaginable to humans, or not.  We have DNA to prove that G_d can transmit information and commands, just like a computer program, so why not the Torah.  Perhaps he had already “...put it into their hearts and wrote it into their minds…” so as to be transmitted through the ages.  Certainly I would expect G_d to be using methods greater than we imagined then, now and at any future time.  Therefore, it is possible that the 600,000 Torah’s information at Mt. Sinai has been transmitted and has multiplied to succeeding generations without the need or use for oral tradition or a physical written Torah. You describe birashit as meaning “..with Torah G_d created the heaven and the earth.  Is it scrolls that G_d used, or perhaps information, or perhaps a knowledge of a plan or system that is non verbal(similar to intuition). Perhaps Torah is something we cannot conceive of.  Is G_d limited only to the options that humans can imagine?

By Yelena on September 13, 2012 -- 8:13pm

Dear Rabbi,
I have some questions and comments regarding this talk.

For one, the “twinkie defense” was actually never used for Dan White’s trial. That is a myth that was fabricated because people/reporters were shocked how easily his case was dismissed by the jurors. You can read the trial manuscript and see this for yourself.

Further, you say there must have been an oral tradition because how else would people know how to read the Torah correctly without the vowels. Well, how is it that Israelis, millions of them, daily are able to read newspapers, books, magazines, etc that are all written in Hebrew without vowels and without any oral tradition?
The argument falls flat.

Your other argument is that G-d would want his tradition passed down. If that is the case then why would he ever make it an oral tradition to begin with? G-d is of course all-knowing so he would have known that His nation would one day need a written form of the oral tradition in order for to be accurately passed down and not to be lost. Why then would he not automatically have made it another written text in addition to our written Torah? It makes little sense.

Thank you in advance for addressing these concerns.

By Israel Marrero Jr on November 23, 2012 -- 2:16pm

Interesting, yet, with all due respect and admiration, I believe that your sort of “generic” explanation of how the other religions you mentioned began, needs to include content of the interaction between the deity and the person (what was specifically said). I think that that is necessary to even begin to consider the veracity of the events in question. Wonderful job! It was also an eye-openning experience for me. Toda raba. Shalom!

By C.W. on November 27, 2012 -- 5:00pm

Wonderful talk. Very insightful and easy to understand. What specifically are you referring to as the “High Faiths”? Thank you.

By Ari on February 3, 2013 -- 10:28am

This is by far one of my favorite shiurim / lectures of all the ones I have on my MP3. No joke, I have listened to this lecture close to 20 times and my goal is to memorize it.

It is simply fascinating!!

By Eliot Sadik on September 8, 2013 -- 5:56pm

Baruch Hashem you guys do a lot of great work!

By A. Eller on November 26, 2013 -- 11:03pm

For the last 20 or so years one of my favorite books has been Rabbi Keleman’s Permission to Believe. I’ve bought copies and sent them to at least ten people in the hopes that each would see, as I did, his arguments as cogent, clear - thus convincing. Who would have thought that his lectures would be of the same calibre, if not better for all of his humor.

Thanks, Rabbi Keleman.

By L. Morrow on October 14, 2014 -- 12:48pm

I have a variety of questions, so I was wondering if anyone knows an email address where I can ask R’ Kelemen directly?

By NADER on October 29, 2014 -- 1:12am


By Yigal on January 4, 2016 -- 7:55pm

If you believe…

You sound more like a leftist than a jew.

In the beginning ‘ughhh’...

After listening to you for ~6 minutes…and after that?


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