And R. Levi bar Hama says in the name of Rabbi Simeon ben Laqish: What is the meaning of the verse "And I will give thee the tables of stone, and the law and the comandment, which I have written that thou mayest teach them" (Exodus 24:12)?
"The tables of stone"--These are the Decalogue.
"The law"--This is the Bible.
"The commandment"--This is the Mishnah.
"Which I have written"--These are the Prophets and Hagiographa.
"That thou mayest teach them"--This is the Talmud.
This teaches that all these things were given to Moses on Sinai.
Note: Two classical models of transmission of Oral Torah: static/passive and creative/dynamic.
"And the Lord said unto Moses: Behold, the days approach that thou must die; call Joshua, and present yourself in the tent of meeting, that I may give him a charge"... (Deuteronomy 31:14). ...The Rabbis say: As soon Moses knew that he was destined to die on that day, what did he do? Says Rabbi Yannai: He wrote out thirteen Torahs; twelve for each of the twelve tribes, and one that he placed in the ark, so that if anyone were to attempt to misprepresent anything, they would find it in the copy that was in the ark.
Rabbi Judah bar Nahmani, the Meturgman of Rabbi Simeon ben Laqish, expounded: It is written: "And the Lord said unto Moses: Write thou these words" (Exodus 34:27). But it is also written: "For according to [Literally: By the mouth of] these words"! How can this be? That which is witten you are forbidden to say orally, and that which is oral you are forbidden to say in writing. The School of Rabbi Ishmael teaches: "These"--These words only shall you write, but you may not write down halakhot. Says Rabbi Johanan: The Holy One made a covenant with Israel only for the sake of Oral traditions, as it says: "For according to [Literally: By the mouth of] these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel."
Our Rabbis taught: What was the order of the Mishnah? Moses learned from the mouth of the Almighty. Then Aaron came in and Moses recited his portion to him. Then Aaron withdrew and sat at Moses' left side. His sons entered and Moses recited their portion to them. His sons withdrew: Eleazar sat at Moses' right side, and Ithamar at Aaron's left side... In turn, the Elders came in and Moses recited to them their portion. The elders then withdrew. The entire people came in, and Moses recited their portion to them. It thus turns out that Aaron had four turns, his sons three, the elders two and the entire people one. Moses withdrew, and Aaron recited his portion to them. Aaron withdrew, and his sons recited their portion to them. His sons withdrew. The Elders recited their portion to them. It thus turns out that eeveryone had four turns. Says Rabbi Eliezer: A person must recite to his pupil four times. This can be deduced a minori : If this applies to Aaron, who learned from Moses, and Moses from the mouth of the Almighty--if so, how much more so does this apply to one ordinary person learning from another!!...
"But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him" (Deut. 3:28). "Charge" him concerning the words of the Talmud... " [Elsewhere: Words of Tradition].
Mishnah Avot 1:
Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, and Joshua to the Elders, and the Elders to the Prophets. And the Prophets transmitted it to the members of the great assembly... Simeon the Righteous was one of the survivors of the great assembly... Atigonos of Sokho recived from Simeon the Righteous...
Says R. Eleazar: On three occasions the Holy Spirit manifested itself: In the court of Shem, in the court of Samuel of Ramah and in the court of Solomon... "In the court of Samuel": As it is written (1 Samuel 12:3 ff.): "witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you. And he said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man's hand. And he said unto them, The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And he answered, He is witness." "He said"!? It should say "they said"!! A Heavenly Voice issued saying "I am a witness to this matter."
...For Rav said: I found a secret scroll at the house of Rabbi Hiyya, in which was written:... Rashi's Commentary: "A secret scroll" It was concealed becauuse of the prohibition against writing. When someone hears an individual's original statement that is not taught in the academy, he writes it down in order to remember it, but hides it.
Why was this issue considered important?
Previous discussions of the topic:
Sa'adia Ga'on (Sefer Haggalui): "Mishnah written by last Prophets."
Epistle of R. Sherira Ga'on: Speaks of oral redaction of Mishnah. (But Spanish texts of the Epistle refer to writing).
...Throughout those years, they succeeded in definitively interpreting all the laws that still stood unresolved in the academy, following the great loss that was caused by the destruction of the Temple, and all the doubts that had arisen in that confusion. And all the disputes that had arisen during those three generations were decided... ...And when "Rabbi" [Judah the Prince] realized that there was so much variation in the traditional teachings of the Rabbis, even though their reasoning led to the same conclusions, he feared that errors might creep into the tradition. Seeing that the spiritual standard was declining, and that the wellsprings of wisdom were being obstructed, and that the angel in charge of teaching the Torah was withdrawing, as it says (Palestinian Talmud Demai 1:3; etc.): "If the former sages were angels, then we are human. If the former sages were human, then we are asses" ... "Rabbi" was granted stength from Heaven with respect to his Torah, which was combined with greatness, in that his entire generation acknowledged his authority throughout his lifetime... And the Rabbis of his time were at peace from any persecution, owing to his friendship with Antoninos. And he consented to arrange those laws, so that all the Rabbis could study them uniformly, rather than having each one study it in their own version. For the former sages who lived before the destruction of the Temple, did not need this, because it was an oral teaching tthat was not composed of fixed statements, like the Written Torah. Rather, these were explanations that they devised on their own, and each sage would teach these to his disciples informally, without any fixed wording... And in the days of "Rabbi" they succeeded in establishing the correct text of the Mishnah, as though it had been spoken directly by the Almighty, as if with demonstrable signs and wonders. "Rabbi" did not compose it according to his own opinions, but rather in accordance with what had been tought by several sages of preceding generations... And when everyone recognized the beauty of the Mishnah's redaction, the truth of its reasoning and its precision, they all abandoned the individual teachings that they had been studying, and these laws spread throughout Israel. They became our laws, while the others were discarded, taking on the status of "external" teachings (baraita), to be consulted only for purposes of interpretation. However Israel accepted the authority of those laws [=the Mishnah], and as we see, all Israel acknowledged them in full faith, without exception.
...And with each genration, the spiritual standards declined... And for this reason, instruction ["Hora'ah"] was added on in each generation, until Rabina, when it ceased, as Samuel "Yarhina'ah" saw in his "Book of Adam": "Ashi and Rabina are the conclusion of instruction." Afterwards, while there was no further Instruction, there continued to be explanations and reasonings that approximated Instruction, and those Rabbis were called "the Saboraic Rabbis [Rabbanan Sabora'ei]"...Cf. Babylonian Talmud Bava Mesia 86a:
Samuel Yarhina'ah was "Rabbi"'s physician... "Rabbi" made great efforts to have him ordained, but was not successful. [Samuel] said to him: Let not the Master be grieved. I have seen the 'Book of Adam," and it is written there: "Samuel Yarhina'ah will be called a Sage, but will not be called a Rabbi, and he will be instrumental in curing "Rabbi." "Rabbi" and Rabbi Nathan are the conclusion of the Mishnah. Rav Ashi and Rabina are the conclusion of Instruction." A mnemonic for this is: (Psalms 73:18): "Until I went into the sanctuary [Hebrew: MiqdAshi]; understood [Hebrew: Abina]I their end."
Rabbi Samlai expounded: Six hundred and thirteen commandments were stated to Moses : Three hundred and sixty-five negative commandments, corresponding to the number of days in the solar year; and two hundred and forty-eight positive commandments corresponding to the limbs of a human body. Said Rav Hamnuna: What is the Scriptural source? --"Moses commanded us the Torah, an inheritance unto the congregation of Jacob" (Deuteronomy 33)--The numerical value of the word "Torah" comes to six hundred and eleven. "I am" and "Thou shalt not have" we heard directly from the Almighty.