De'oraita and derabanan
The former refers to halachic requirements that rabbinic literature understands to be Biblically mandated, while the latter refers to halachic requirements that are rabbinically mandated. In Aramaic, de-'oraita means "from the Torah" and de-rabbanan means from our Rabbis.
Use of Terminology
Examples of the application of these two terms abound. One such application appears in the laws relating to grace after meals. There are four blessings contained within the grace after meals, and while the first three are biblically mandated, the fourth blessing was added much later on in Jewish history and is rabbinically mandated (B. Brachot 45b) The first three blessings would thus be referred to as de-'oraita and the last blessing would be referred to as de-rabbanan.
Another example are the commandments regarding the famous phrase "Thou shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk." From this, many laws of kashrut are derived by the rabbis. One might think this would make it de-rabbanan because it was derived by the rabbis, but the laws are actually de-'oraita because they are derived by interpreting the Torah. On the other hand, the extension of this prohibition to eating chicken with milk is de-rabbanan as it is the product of a specific Rabbinic enactment.
The application of differences between rabbinic and biblical mitzvot can sometimes make practical differences.
Rules of precedence
If a d'oraita rule comes into conflict with a d'rabbanan rule, the d'oraita rule (Torah rule) always takes precedence.
Sofek (cases of doubt)
Sofek means a case where you are uncertain about the factual circumstances, i.e. one does not remember whether he or she said a portion of tefila or a berekha. If there is doubt about a fact where a d'oraita rule applies, the strict position regarding the rule is taken (the repeat fulfillment of the rule is taken); if there is doubt in a matter that is d'rabbanan, the lenient position is taken regarding the rule (the act is not repeated and it is ignored).
Bediavad (extenuating circumstances)
In cases of extenuating circumstances regarding a rabbinic law, decisors of Jewish law sometimes apply the law leniently.
- Promising Justice: Derrida with Jewish Jurisprudence A Hirvonen - Law and Critique, 2001 - Springer "Thus, those commandments (mitzvot) that come directly from the Torah (de'oraita) and are biblical, are a superior authority to those rabbinic ones which do not come from it (de'rabbanan). The de'oraita ... "
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