Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy
Does the Oral Torah violate Deuteronomy 4:2?
2 You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
The Oral Law ENABLES us to keep Deuteronomy 4:2!
Without the Oral law we would not know how to understand the commandments. We would not know how to decide when borderline situations arose.
The Oral Law is substantiated by other Biblical passages, e.g.
8 â€œIf any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of homicide or another, between one kind of lawsuit or another, and between one kind of assault or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God chooses. 9 So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them and they will declare to you the verdict in the case. 10 You shall do according to the ]terms of the verdict which they declare to you from that place which the Lord chooses; and you shall be careful to observe according to all that they teach you. 11 According to the terms of the law which they teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left. 12 The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the Lord your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. 13 Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again.
If the Sages were able to add to the simple meaning of the commandments expanding and/or contracting them when necessary, when would they be transgressing Deuteronomy 4:2?
The answer is that a transgression on Deuteronomy 4:2 would occur if the status of a commandment was given to a mere cautionary ruling.