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Rabbinical literature

Rabbinical literature is founded upon the Torah, the Five Books of Moses (the Pentateuch), and on other parts of the Bible. and has built up over the centuries through constant reworking and extension of holy scriptures.
According to the beliefs of orthodox Jews, the Wise are the legitimate interpreters of God's teachings, as revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. They interpret and amplify Biblical utterances. They are links in a chain whose anchor and first link is the Torah.
During the Middle Ages rabbis created a comprehensive literature based on the Bible and the Talmud in which they continually discussed the interpretation of these works. The literature includes comprehensive summaries of Talmudic laws, such as the fundamental work of Josef Karo, the "Shulchan Aruch", or "Set Table", first published in Venice in 1564/5. After the addition of glosses by Moses Isserles, the Shulchan Aruch became the authoritative legal code of orthodox Judaism.
Commentaries, Responsa, custumals, letters, sermons and prayer books also form part of rabbinical literature.
It was not until the the Enlightenment and the emancipation of the Jews that a spiritual movement arose which tried to make a distinction between the Bible and rabbinical literature: this was the Reform Movement.


© Jüd. Museum Frankfurt 1992-2002 /  Sources