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October 4, 2015 | 21st Tishrei 5776

Jews who study Mishnah, Talmud, and other examples of classic Jewish literature (Torah Shebal Peh), interpreted through history and modern Jewish thought, as the foundation for Reform Jewish living and learning

Simon the Righteous...his motto was: The world stands on three things--the Torah, the [Temple] service, and loving acts of kindness. (Pirkei Avot 1:2) The "Torah," the written and Oral Torah are implied, with an emphasis on Oral Law. "The world stands of three things" Maimonides: proper human existence could not be maintained if it were not for these three things. (Pirkei Avot: A Modern Commentary on Jewish Ethics, p.3)

"To observe and do all God's commandments" (Deuteronomy 28:1). R. Shimon ben Halafta said: When one learns the precepts of Torah but does not fulfill them, the punishment is more severe than that of one who has not studied at all. To what may this situation be compared? To one where a king had an orchard into which he brought two tenants, one of whom planted trees and cut them down, while the other neither planted nor cut down any. With whom is the king likely to be angry? Surely with the one who planted trees and cut them down. So, too, when a person learns precepts of Torah but does not fulfill them, the punishment is more severe than that of one who has not studied at all. (Deuteronomy Rabbah 7:4)

The time allotted to study should be divided into three parts: A third should be devoted to the Written Law; a third to the Oral Law; and the last third should be spent in reflection, deducting conclusions from premises, developing implications of statements, comparing dicta, studying the hermeneutical principles by which the Torah is interpreted, till one knows the essence of these principles, and how to deduce what is permitted and what is forbidden from what one has learned traditionally. This is termed Talmud. (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws for the Study of Torah, Chapter 1)

"We are committed to the ongoing study of the whole array of Mitzvot and the fulfillment of those that address us as individuals and as a community. Some of these Mitzvot, sacred obligations, have long been observed by Reform Jews; others, both ancient and modern, demand renewed attention as the result of the unique context of our times: (from the 1999 CCAR Statement of Principles).

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