(Vere, Stein Atle. ©2011. “Halakha”. brakha.blogspot.com.)

The Tora תורה (“Instruction”) is the first five books of the Tanakh תנ״ך (Hebrew Bible). It establishes a legal system to govern the daily life of the Children of Yisrael בני ישראל . Yhudim יהודים (Jews) are part of Yisrael.

Later, the Book of the Talmud תלמוד (“Study”) arranges the court case by court case decisions of this legal tradition, continuing since the time of the Tora.

Halakha הלכה is the technical term for this Yhudi legal tradition. It literally means the way of “going”, the optimal way to discern and actualize the Mistvot מצות , the “commands” by God in the Tora.

Since the Bronze Age when God inspires the Seventy Shoftim (Judges) via Moshe (Moses), to peacefully resolve disputes among the Children of Yisrael, this ongoing legal system survives even today in the Modern Age, in the form of Rabanim (Rabbis).

During the Classical Age, after the Romans destroy the Temple of God in Yrushalayim (Jerusalem), the Book of the Mishna (literally “Recitation”) begins the process of writing down this legal tradition circa 200.

Near the end of the Classical Age, circa 500, the Talmud amends the Mishna to compile and prioritize the various legal opinions from the Classical Age and to cohere them with the Books of the Tora and the rest of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). The Talmud is the official and comprehensive application of the Tora for that age.

Bronze Age − Moshe (Moses), Seventy Shoftim (Judges)
Iron Age − Nviim (Prophets)
Classical Age − Sanhedrin, Tanaim, Book of Mishna, Amorim, Book of Talmud
Medieval Age − Gonim, Rishonim, Book of Mishne Tora
Modern Age − Book of Shulkhan Arukh, Akharonim (whence today the streams of Judaism responding variously)

Since the origin when God authorizes the Seventy Shoftim of the Tora, these living persons who transmit this ancient legal authority are who decide the Halakha, not the books by themselves that certain authorities publish.

Notice, Kabala (Jewish spirituality) requires Halakha (Jewish legal tradition). God commands, and humans fulfill these commands. To carry out a command − a Mitsva מצוה − one must achieve both a spiritual intention to serve the compassion חסד of the Infinite − and a physical effort to do it via reallife actions.