Table 1.

Categories of Halakhic Sources in Rabbinic Judaism.

Tier Sources Contents
Written Torah Five Books of Moses Traditionally parsed to contain 613 mitzvot (Commandments)
Oral Torah Mishnah
Babylonian Talmud (TB)*
Jerusalem Talmud (TY)
Ancient commentaries and interpretations (Talmud codified 6th century CE), including: Derived rules, Legislated rules, Informal homiletics
Responsa Later case-based responses extending to the present day
Minhag (Local Custom) Responsa
Later codifications
Aspects of Judaism that differ by region, arising from Rabbinic authorship or gradual popular adoption
Lexical Codifications Mishneh Torah (12th century)
Shulchan Aruch (16th century)
Influential collections of prior rulings, including responsa and minhag, organized topically
Progressive Judaism Alternate responses and commentaries by non-Orthodox movements More emphasis on individual liberty in decision-making and/or evolving interpretations of canon; traditional halakhah may serve in an adaptive or advisory capacity
*Standard Babylonian Talmud citations are given as “TB [tractate] [pg. #] [a/b for page side],” as in “TB Bava Metzia 59b.” The Mishnah and Jerusalem Talmud are divided into tractates, chapter #, and verse # (“Pirkei Avot 1:2” or “TY Pe’ah 1:1”). See or for public domain translations.
RMMJ Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal Rambam Health Care Campus 2018 January; 9(1): e0007. ISSN: 2076-9172
Published online 2018 January 29. doi: 10.5041/RMMJ.10327