Torah and Talmud: Differences Explained

The Torah and the Talmud are two important texts of Judaism with fundamentally different origins and purposes.


The Torah, also known as the Five Books of Moses or the Pentateuch, is the foundational text of Judaism. It consists of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, which contain the narrative of the creation of the world, the history of the Israelites, the Ten Commandments, and the laws and commandments that God gave to Moses for the Israelites to follow.

The Torah is believed to have been written by Moses around 3,300 years ago and is considered the direct word of God. With 613 commandments governing Jewish life and practice, it’s the primary source of Jewish law. The Torah is read aloud in synagogue services on a weekly basis and is studied extensively by Jewish scholars.


The Talmud, on the other hand, is a collection of Jewish oral traditions and commentaries on the Torah. It consists of two parts: the Mishnah and the Gemara.

  1. The Mishnah is a compilation of oral teachings passed down from Moses to his disciples and then from generation to generation until they were finally written down in the early third century CE.
  2. The Gemara is a commentary on the Mishnah compiled in the fourth and fifth centuries CE by Jewish scholars in Babylonia and Israel.

The Talmud contains discussions and debates among these scholars about the meaning and application of Jewish law and tradition. It includes a wide range of topics, from legal issues to moral and ethical questions to historical events. It also includes stories, anecdotes, and parables that illustrate Jewish values and beliefs.

The Talmud is studied by Jewish scholars as a way to deepen their understanding of Jewish law and tradition. It is also read and studied by non-Jewish scholars who are interested in Jewish history, culture, and philosophy.

Are Torah and Talmud Equal?

The Talmud is considered an authoritative source of Jewish law, but it is not seen as equal to the Torah. It’s – at best – the most authentic commentary on the Torah, which is considered to be the word of God.


In short, the Torah is the foundational text of Judaism and the primary source of Jewish law, while the Talmud is a collection of Jewish oral traditions and commentaries on the Torah that provides further insights and interpretations of Jewish law and tradition.

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