Today’s daf deals with several aspects of the shape and materials to be used in the manufacture of tephillin (phylacteries). In each case the Talmud informs us that the reason behind these aspects of tephillin eg. black straps is not a matter of logic or based on a verse in the Torah but rather that:-
הלכה למשה מסיני
“The law was transmitted to Moshe at Har Sinai”
This is a common phrase which according to one website:
“The Law given to Moses at Sinai (Hebrew Halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai הלכה למשה מסיני) refers to a halakhic judgment that was not stated in the Law of Moses recorded in the Hebrew Bible, nor derived from the Talmudical hermeneutics (the Oral exposition); it is, however, known from the Jewish Tradition. The terminology “The law given to Moses at Biblical Mount Sinai,” is not included in the written Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible), which was transmitted orally since time immemorial from one generation to the next, with no other sources. The laws are nonetheless considered by the Talmud to have the force and gravity of Biblical law as if they were stated explicitly in the verse. A classic example is the laws of ritual slaughter upon which kosher meat is based. They are not stated explicitly in any verse, but are merely referenced in passing in Deut. 12:21.”
The implication is that in the time of the Talmud it was clear to the Rabbis that they were discussing traditions which had been passed down in an unbroken chain and that these traditions are to be considered on par with clearly stated biblical law.
I will revisit this important subject in future posts.