Oral Torah - Various Comments
Hashem then said to Moshe, "Ascend to Me to the mountain and remain there, and I shall give you the Stone Tablets and the Torah and the Commandment that I have written, to teach them."
The 'Stone Tablets' refers to the Ten Commandments. The 'Torah' refers to the Five Books of Moshe (the Written Torah). The 'Commandment' refers to the Mishnah (the essence of the Oral Law). The phrase 'in order to teach them' refers to the Gemara - the explanations of the Mishnah. The Hebrew word lehorotam (to teach them), refers specifically to the Oral Torah which expounds the teachings contained in the Written Law. This word is written without the second vav, thus relating it to the root word harah (to bear a child - as in 1Divrei HaYamim 4:17). It is concluded that the Written Law bears within it the Oral Law and engenders it.
There is a story is told about a fellow who applies for a job at a prestigious investment banking firm. The interviewer looks at his resume and says, "I see you went to Harvard Business School. Very nice. Tell me, what year did you graduate?"
The fellow says, "1990."
"1990. Did you ever take any courses with Professor Stevens?"
"Okay, how about Professor Phillips? He's one of the most popular professors at Harvard. Older fellow, grey hair. Did you meet him?"
"Nope, never heard of Phillips."
"You went to the Harvard Business School and you don't know two of the most popular professors?! I don't get it. Did you attend Harvard or not?"
"Well, I guess I should be honest with you. I didn't actually go to Harvard. My roommate attended the Harvard Business School. He used to bring home all his notes and textbooks, and I read everything he brought home. So when he graduated, I figured I graduated, too."
The interviewer was not impressed. And our “graduate" didn't get the job. (Or if he did, it's one of those firms that's out of business now...)
Why isn't it enough just to read the notes to be considered a Harvard graduate?
Because you need to hear the lectures. The professors add so much information that the notes simply don't present a full view of the subject. If you want to get a full understanding of a text, what's the best way to find out? Ask the experts: "What's behind this? Please explain it."
Information in the written form is, by definition, secondary and limited in scope. That's why the Oral Torah is 50 times the size of the Written Torah!
In actuality, the Oral Torah is infinite. It contains the totality of Torah, which -- as the word of the infinite G-d -- is by its very definition infinite. (Aish Rabbi)
The Oral Torah was originally meant to be transmitted by word of mouth. It was transmitted from master to student in such a manner that if the student had any question, he would be able to ask, and thus avoid ambiguity. A written text, on the other hand, no matter how perfect, is always subject to misinterpretation. Furthermore, the Oral Torah was meant to cover the infinitude of cases which would arise in the course of time. It could never have been written in its entirety. It is thus written (Kohelet 12:12), "Of making many books there is no end." G-d therefore gave Moshe a set of rules through which the Torah could be applied to every possible case. If the entire Torah would have been given in writing, everyone would be able to interpret it as he desired. This would lead to division and discord among people who followed the Torah in different ways. The Oral Torah, on the other hand, would require a central authority to preserve it, thus assuring the unity of Yisrael.
Liars are one of four groups of people who will not enjoy the Divine Presence (in the world to come). Talmud Bavli Sotah 42a