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Torah & Rabbinic Law (D'Oraita & D'Rabbanan)

"Torah law" (D'Oraita) includes not only the commandments stated in the Torah, but also their  authoritative Rabbinic interpretation.  "Rabbinic law" (D'Rabbanan) refers to decrees enacted by the rabbis after the Torah was given. These Rabbinic decrees protect and enhance our observance of Torah Law.

In most cases, Rabbinic law and Torah law are equally binding. Even when the Rabbis of the Talmud explicitly stated the reasoning behind an enactment, and circumstances have changed such that the reasoning no longer applies, the enactment remains in force unless formally revoked.

However, our sages sometimes built special leniencies into Rabbinic laws. In cases of doubt (safek), after the fact (bediavad), or in extenuating circumstances (bish'at hadechak), rulings concerning Rabbinic law may be more lenient. The application of these general principles to particular cases is complex. A posek (halachic decisor) must consider many halachic factors and practical details before issuing a ruling appropriate to the individual situation.


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