I have already discussed the origin of the doctrine of Torah mi-Sinai as a reaction to Christianity. Now I will discuss the consequences of this in regard to the role of In short, the doctrine of Torah mi-Sinai holds that the whole of the Torah, perfect, complete, and pre-existent, was handed down to Moses miraculously on Mount Sinai. This included both past and future events in the Torah, which means that it is a perfect prophesy of the rest of Moses’ life, including the disobedience for which he is forbidden from entering the Promised Land.
This fundamentally changes the nature of the Law of Moses. No longer can it be seen as it is presented in its own text: a core of general laws accompanied by a compendium of case law that was largely developed as specific issues were brought to Moses, which were considered to be the righteous response to the particular culture and circumstances of the people of Israel. Instead, the Law of Moses becomes the eternal and exact law of God himself, delivered in its entirety for all future times.
This leads to the basic rabbinical position that nothing that is not explicitly forbidden in the Torah is actually a violation, unless from Pharisaical arguments based on readings of the law or from the so-called Mishnah or “Oral Torah,” oral traditions assembled nearly 2000 years after the Torah was composed that is given equal footing with the scriptural Torah. (This should remind you of the emphasis on the “recited Quran” and the narrations of the Companions in Islam.) Rabbinical interpretations and opinions are the definitive source for the true, full Jewish law–the Halakha–of which the Torah is only a part.
The Babylonian Talmud, for instance, has a very long argument in Sanhedrin Tractate 64 about how to apply Leviticus 18:21, which is (in its hyperliteral translation), “And you shall not cause to pass [one] of your seed through the fire to Molech….” This was a law against the ancient practice of child sacrifice, which was done in Canaan to worship the pagan god Molech.
From this one historical prohibition, suited to its place and time, a person with functional moral reasoning would realize that sacrificing other people’s children would also be a violation of this principle, sacrificing adults would be a violation, and sacrificing any human to gods other than Molech would, similarly, be a violation. (The principle of “common law” is, in fact, built on the basis of moral reason from case law.)
The kind of moral reason required to deduce this is prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-34: “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord. ‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the Lord. …”
But the rabbis believed that the whole law of God had been handed down to Moses, perfect and complete in every way. Therefore, what the law does not explicitly address cannot be wrong. There is no place for moral reason of the embodied spirit of the law, and instead the letter of the law is the only law they can observe, and all arguments are formed then from precise interpretation of those these letters. As a result, a great number of the most respected of the ancient Jewish rabbis present the case that you have no guilt against this particular prohibition if you do not literally throw an unconscious child of your own into the fires specifically of Molech. Sacrificing to other gods carries no guilt. Sacrificing anyone at all other than your own child to Molech carries no guilt. Allowing your child to be sacrificed to Molech, as long as you don’t specifically hand him over, carries no guilt. Your child walking into the fire of Molech under your coercion even carries no guilt. Sacrificing all of your children carries no guilt, since this passage refers only to “of your seed,” which means not all of them but only a part.
Of course, there could be violations of other laws when you did any of these other things, if they conformed to the violation of the letter of those laws with the right types of admissible evidence and so on, but these particular actions would not violate that particular law, and if no law could be found which the actions violated the exact letter, for which there was also admissible levels of evidence, then the person would be found to have no guilt. There are laws against murder, of course, but like the law against human sacrifice, a close parsing could create a multitude of occasions where a person bore no guilt for their deed. (Of course, Talmudic law also decrees that I, a non-Jew, am even now under a death sentence for merely studying the Torah and meddling in the things pertaining to the Talmud–even the edited Talmud that has censored the most offensive things that it once said about Yeshua Hamashiach. All I can say is that it’s a good thing that Talmudic sentences no longer carry the weight of law anywhere! There are already enough countries eager to kill me.)
Reading any part of the Talmud immediately awakes a person to the reason that Yeshua (Jesus) said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:27-28) and also “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24). (To be perfectly fair, the Orthodox Jewish response to this is that I only think this because I’m not studying the Talmud under an appropriate formal guide, but of course that would be impossible because 1) I’m not a Jew, so it is illegal to teach me, and 2) to most of the Orthodox community, at least, I’m a woman, so I’m disqualified from being able to be taught more than a small child could, at best.)
In addition, the Pharisaical rabbis predictably taught that the destruction of the Temple was due to failing to apply the Law of Moses with enough exacting vigor. The only remedy, then, is to parse the Law of Moses ever more finely and apply it ever more strictly. Exact observance of the Law would reverse the judgement of God. It would cause the Mashiach to come and for Rome to be overthrown (with the Catholic Church now replacing the Roman Empire).
This has a striking similarity to Islamic eschatology, which divides the world into the House of Submission and the House of War. The primary vehicle is jihad, and the secondary vehicle is the observance of Sharia. Once the House of Submission overthrew Rome by taking Constantinople, the Great Day (that is, the Day of Resurrection) was supposed to occur, according to Islamic scholars, which is why all Islamic energy was focused against Byzantium for eight hundred years. The failure of this to occur caused a shift in Islamic doctrine that the whole earth had to be brought into the House of Submission, instead, and the importance of Sharia law became even greater, because without full application of Sharia, the House of Submission is contaminated with hypocrisy and is unable to bring about the Day of Ressurection.
Sharia Law was informed by Mosaic Law as it was seen through a Talmudic lens in the sixth and seventh century, not as the Mosaic Law had been practiced in Israel. By the second century AD, the Jewish community had lost its understanding of the theological principals of all Ancient Near Eastern law and so brought the practices of Roman law to it, something that was never intended but that Islam would follow with even more stringency. It should be noted, too, that the softening of the Talmud through generations of interpretation had not had any time to occur yet. The Jews of Muhammad’s day did not have the massive reforms of Gershom ben Judah, which abolished polygamy in Ashkenazi Europe, or Maimonides (Rambam), that did away with practices endorsed by the Talmudic rabbis such as child marriage.
The Quran presents itself as the revealed Book in the same way that the doctrine of Torah-From-Sinai sees the Torah. Like the Torah in Talmudic Judaism, it has an accompanying body of literature that has equal status (or, in reality, superior status, as it is the interpretive framework) with it and that is used in harmony with it to give a full account of the Law, or Sharia, as it is called in Islam. Informed by Talmudic Judaism, Islam presents itself as providing the Law for eternity and as being able to settle the best way to do almost anything in life, however minor, just as the Talmud does. No matter is too insignificant, too unusual, or too intimate to be considered either by the Talmud or by Sharia law.
The moral abominations that the Talmud brought to Judaism–and I say that with all seriousness, because there were many–were largely able be ameliorated through time by the efforts of clever argumentation by later rabbis through the doctrine of interpretation. In contrast, however, the most objectionable materials of Islam are its very wellspring. The most authentic and reliable sources for which there can be no mechanism in Islam to argue away. To put it another way, the most objectionable parts of Talmudic Judaism are its superstructure, which cannot be removed but can be constantly added onto in order to change the shape of the “building.” (Ironically, after writing this, I found a Jewish site that articulated this in almost the same way–the Torah is the foundation and the Talmud is the pillar, which support the weight of interpretive history.) In contrast, the most objectionable parts of Islam are its foundation, and so nothing different can be build upon it without doing violence to its origins.
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