All legislation is open to court interpretation. Courts deliberate whether a particular act is a murder or manslaughter. Likewise, it is enough to state that exhausting work is prohibited on Sabbath, and leave the rest to judicial interpretation. Where the Torah feels the need to interpret, it does so: You shall not commit adultery is clarified with many examples (homosexuality, various forms of incest, and relations with a menstruating woman or a man with an STD), murder is similarly dissected (premeditated, unpremeditated, of a fetus, of a slave, etc).

Rabbis want us to believe that the Sadducees, the Temple priests, were ignorant about the Oral law or maliciously silenced it. Rabbis assert that their Sanhedrin sat in the Temple dominated by their Sadducean enemies. Not a single tfillin has ever been found during excavations of Jerusalem, but many have been found in Qumran, a testimony to the fact that Pharisaic rabbis were fringe sectarians on par with Jesus. He agreed with every Pharisaic doctrine in the Gospel of Matthew and praised them—while attacking the Sadducees. Even if Mishna was indeed given to Jews at Sinai, it represents a minuscule fraction, not even 0.1 percent of the current halacha. If Mishnah is a law, no human being has the right to impose his interpretation of the commandments on Jews.

The rabbinical “fence around the law” has long passed the limits of common sense. The lawgiver is wise, and he would have given us the “fence laws” if they were necessary. In fact, there are such laws, for example, fencing the roofs lest someone falls from them and house owner incurs the guilt of murder. But the rabbinical fence is far removed from the commandments: abstaining from phone calls on Shabbat has nothing to do with the original prohibition of exhaustive labor.

Besides adding to the law, the rabbis subtracted from it. They abrogated commandments (e.g., blue tzitzit), entire classes of commandments (such as criminal justice, ostensibly for the lack of Sanhedrin which neither the Torah nor Tanakhic judges knew of), and even subjects. In the latter case, rabbis exempted women from observing most time-bound commandments—a decision without the slightest biblical basis. Everywhere the Torah speaks of “you,” it uses the neuter gender. “Neither you, nor your son, or your daughter, etc” may work on Shabbat. Children are specified by gender, but “you” is not, as it applies to both sexes.

Rabbis root their power in the Torah’s injunction to listen to wise elders. But those were judges, not legislators. Yes, we should listen to elected judges, but nowhere does the Torah imply we should allow human beings to set divine-sounding laws for us.