The Torah prohibits worship out of the Temple. The rationale is profound: to do away with the superstitions which led to the emergence of many hilltop sanctuaries. Jews should act without superfluous appeal to God. It’s up to the people to strive and achieve; results are not a product of prayers. The lawgiver deliberately minimized supernatural communion in daily life; Jews were supposed to lead dedicated, but not superstitious lives, unlike their pagan neighbors who bowed down to idols on many occasions daily. The name of God was profaned in superstitious ceremonies and wanton prayers. After the Temple’s destruction, the rabbis declared every Jewish assembly an equivalent of the Temple. Though some adjustment to Temple-less reality was required, the rabbinical equation returned the Jews to the days of idolatrous worship on many altars. Jews are only required to attend the Temple thrice annually; weekly Shabbat service is not only superficial, but goes against the logic of Torah, which prohibits wanton, frequent prayers. Moreover, the rabbis mandate multiple prayers at home when Jewish assembly is unavailable. The Torah condemns home worship. The rabbis tried to preserve the spirit of Judaism, but lost its meaning. Could it be that the Pharisaic rabbis who outlived the Sadducees, Essenes, and Karaites are wrong? Sure. Catholicism dominated Western Christianity for more than a thousand years before the rise of Protestantism. Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christianity are no truer than Marcionism, or Ebionites’ teaching.

This is analogous to the constitutional originality doctrine: the US Constitution says nothing about abortion, and any attempts to read abortion into constitutional clauses are wrong; but people are free to legislate or ban abortion. Likewise, the Torah is silent on, for example, oysters; if rabbis want to ban them as a matter of the fence around the law, they are free to do so, but their prohibition has nothing to do with the Torah.

The fact that Adam was bidden to name all the animals suggests that man was endowed with the power to set his own laws. So if rabbis wish to set up additional laws besides the Torah, they are free to do so through a secular process: oysters should be legislated just like the speed limit, by popular consent rather than learned discussion. This reasoning applies to all Talmudic legislation: much of it is wise and certainly worth practicing, but the sages’ authority, though great, is not unquestionable, and we should evaluate every Talmudic rule on its merits. Given the long history of practicing Talmudic regulations, the burden of proof is on us to abandon any specific rule—but they could still be abandoned. They are human inventions, and there is no reason to laboriously root them in the Torah.