The Torah

The five books of the Pentateuch, which were given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The Oral Torah

According to tradition, the Oral Torah was given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. Moses handed it down to Joshua, Joshua to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets to the men of the Great Assembly (Avot 1:1).

The Mishnah

Codification of the Oral Law, transmitted orally and compiled in writing by Rabbi Judah HaNasi around 200 A.D.

The Gemara

Commentary on the Mishnah. Two versions exist, one compiled in Israel and the other in Babylon. Codified around 500 A.D.

The Talmud

Consists of the Mishnah and the Gemara, and is published along with other commentaries, including those of the Geonim (8th-10th centuries), Rashi (France, 11th century) and the Tosafot (France/Germany, 12th-13th centuries).

The Responsa

The discussion of Talmudic decrees by rabbis, from Talmudic times through the Middle Ages to our present day. Through the responsa literature, rabbis are able to issue numerous practical rulings based on ancient laws.