The Oral Transmission

Question 1: Your commentary on 33 years being taken from Jacob in Genesis 47:9 for complaining came from where?

~ Bill R.

Question 2: I just finished watching an AJW show where you told a story about Abram smashing idols in his father Terah’s shop. Can this story be found in the Bible?

~ James S.

Dear Bill and James,

Bill meet James; James meet Bill and both of you please meet our many beloved readers/listeners/viewers who have the same question you both asked.

Next week, is the Biblical festival of Shavuot, known in English as Pentecost. Shavuot, occurring on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, is the anniversary of God giving Moses His Message to mankind on Mt. Sinai. That gift from God is hinted at back all the way in the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis 1:31, when Scripture tells us that it was morning and evening THE sixth day. While we go more into depth about this unusual phraseology in an episode of Scrolling through Scripture Unit 1 that is currently being edited (Note to students who have completed the unit—as soon as this additional episode is ready, we will send it to you!), here is a summary. No other day of Creation is referred to using the definite article, THE. Days 2 through 6 use the more general indefinite article, A. A very specific sixth day is being hinted at, the sixth day of the month of Sivan, the date of Shavuot, the only holy day to fall on the sixth of a month.

There is another instance in the vast field of ancient Jewish wisdom that features the number six. The Passover Seder closes with a climactic and important song that celebrates numbers, linking each number between one and thirteen to a specific concept. The number six represents the Oral Transmission. In other words, God spent forty days and nights teaching Moses not only the text of the Bible, but also the accompanying explanation that goes hand in hand with that text. This includes hidden meanings and multi-layers found in every letter and word and is known as the Oral Torah. We understand God’s word best through this lens.

Moses taught this material to the Israelites during the forty years in the desert, making it history’s longest educational program. From them it was handed down, parent to child and teacher to disciple. About two thousand years ago it began to be written down in an extremely abbreviated shorthand form for fear of it becoming forgotten. This “code book” of the Oral Torah was written in six distinct volumes. So, to anyone in tune with ancient Jewish wisdom, the number five always alludes to the written text of the Five Books of Moses while the number six refers to what we call the Oral Torah. This is studied and taught in traditional Torah-oriented Bible seminaries till today.

Both the information about Jacob losing a certain number of years from his life and about Abraham’s father are part of this oral transmission, for which we have coined the name, “Ancient Jewish Wisdom”.

A minority of the Jewish community has faithfully kept the oral transmission alive since the days of Sinai. Much of this oral transmission was known to the Christian founders of America and Christian scholars of the time like Rev. Henry Ainsworth, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather, Yale’s president Ezra Stiles, and many others. The mission to which we devote ourselves in our ministry is to enable both Jews and Christians to recapture that part of their heritage that has been neglected or lost.

We do not give references to where the specific questions you ask are discussed, because even if you read an English translation, or even if you were fluent in Hebrew and Aramaic, this material requires an entire multi-year process of study. That’s why we light-heartedly like saying that “Everyone needs a rabbi!”

Hope this answers your questions to your satisfaction,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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5 thoughts on “The Oral Transmission”


    Never saw answer to Question #2, dealing with Terah’s shop of idols and Abram.

  2. Thank you for sharing your ancient Jewish wisdom with us.
    As a Christian, I really benefit greatly from having you as a Rabbi!
    Thank you for also being a Rabbi for Christians.

  3. Your answer is perfectly clear to me. It says in the Tanach to get back to the ancient path. 23 years now of studying the Torah portion each week I’ve develop an Hebraic mind set instead of the Greek understanding I was raised with. Oral Torah answer many of the questions I had. Every year I find more and more hidden nuggets. I might be at a 1st grade level now.

  4. Thanks guys for asking those questions and to Rabbi for the explanation about ancient jewish wisdom.
    I too have a question. As a christian I have listened and read your materials, and have also bought a few of your books Rabbi, however even though may have mentioned christian characters in some of your writings (eg. In this post), yet I have never come across a new testament quote,or reference in your material.
    Is there a reason Rabbi?

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