|Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile|
Disputation III Abstract:
Y'shua embraced Halachah and the authority of the Pharisees and commanded his followers that if they loved him, they should do the same. In his own words, according to the Aramaic Peshita text of the reNewed Testament, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in the seat of Moshe. All things therefore they may tell you, do ye and shomer , but according to the works of them do ye not; for they say and do not. " It would have been sufficient for Y'shua to simply have told his followers "do" the things the scribes and the Pharisees tell you. But he also used the verb, shomer , which means keep in the sense of guarding or protecting. Do and keep (guard) is an expression found throughout the Talmud that implies observing the Torah according to Halachah. Further, some oral traditions from which Halachah was formed that were espoused in Y'shua's day, did not make it into the body of Halachah when it was later codified. Most notable is the prohibition not to heal on the Shabbat, which Y'shua confronted at every turn. This should cause us to rethink some of his criticisms of the "traditions of men" as non-Halachic traditions. He also stated as recorded in John 14:15: "If you love me, shomer (guard) my commandments." However, rather than interpret these words as a Deity speaking, they should be understood in the context they were presented as a tzadik, or manifest Torah. The meaning is then clear. Y'shua refers to nothing new; but rather to the same Torah, for which the Assimilation he came to regather and renew to Covenant was earlier judged and scattered for calling it a "strange thing."Y'shua and Halachah
Removing the michshol (stumbling block) between Joseph and Judah
© 2005 Maggid ben Yosef
Disputation Series III:
We now address the authority of Halachah specifically to the non-Jewish followers of Y'shua. This is because any arguments about the "deity" of Y'shua or some notion about a "sacred name" theology, must -- if Y'shua himself embraces Halachah -- not only have Scriptural validity in the Torah, but must also agree with Halachah on the matter. And while much may appear to be missing from the written Torah, Halachah is exacting to a hair's breath on what is permitted and what is not permitted.
Y'shua did embrace Halachah not only for himself, but for his disciples and for the multitudes. This means the burden of proof for the "deity of Y'shua" and "Sacred Name" advocates must be produced from the Halachah. And it bears repeating that the transmission of Halachah is more accurate than has been the preservation and transmission of the writings that comprise the reNewed Testament.
The identity we already have suggested for Yshua is as the manifest Torah. In that identity, he would know more about Halachah than anyone alive. And so he was particularly hard on the Pharisees who "sat in the seat of Moses" for being hypocrites and not leading by example. But he never disputed the authority of the scribes and Pharisees in doing so.
"Sit in the seat of Moses" is simply a designation that they have the authority to interpret the laws of Torah or another way of saying that, "formulate Halachah." However, since Halachah has been codified, it is more or less set in stone and cannot change.
Matthew 23:2-3: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in the seat of Moshe. All things therefore they may tell you, DO ye and KEEP, but according to the works of them do ye not; for they say and do not." Would it not have been sufficient for Y'shua to simply have said do ye? Why also did he say, keep ye?
Do and Keep are words often associated with the Torah ... AND halachah. For instance, in the Shabbat command to remember to do and to keep the Shabbat, the latter verb, keep (Heb. shomer) refers to Halachah. This is because the Hebrew term means to keep in the sense of "guarding or protecting" and not in the sense of keep by doing. Again, the other verb do asah -- implies this.
Do and keep or just keep by itself apply Y'shuas command to observe the Torah with the oral traditions, the fences which guard and protect it. Some of those oral traditions espoused in Y'shua's day, did not, however, make it into the body of Halachah when it was later codified. Most notably is the prohibition not to heal on the Shabbat which is not found in Halachah but which Y'shua confronted everywhere he went. It is even conceivable that he influenced the Halachah on this subject.
Unless their righteousness exceeded that of the Saducees and the Pharisees, Yshua told his disciples they would not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. In his day, true followers were not only taught the Halachah from the Pharisees, they also were commanded to observe it and guard it.
In John 14:15, Yshua is quoted: "If you love me, keep my commandments."
Here, Y'shua appears to identify himself as the Father and this is one of several passages that have given rise to the doctrine known in the Church as "Trinity."
The Aramaic is important in understanding the Gospel of John and this and other riddles Yshua presents to his followers. It is the only Gospel positively linked to an Aramaic original. Also, the first 15 chapters of the book of Luke are thought to be based on an Aramaic original, according to textual criticism research. The remainder of the New Testament, with the possible exception of the book of Revelation, also written by John, was from Greek autographs.
The riddle starts with a question by Thomas, the doubter, to which Y'shua replies, "I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the (Ara. "my") Father except through me. If you had known me, also my Father you would know. From now, you know Him and have seen."
The disciple named Philip then says to Y'shua it would be sufficient to know the Father. To which Y'shua replied, "Believest thou not that I am in (Ara. with) the Father and the Father is in (Ara. with) me; the words I speak unto you, I speak not of myself but the Father remaining in (Ara. with) me, does the works of him. Believe me that I am in (Ara. with) the Father and the Father is in (Ara. with) me; otherwise because of the works themselves, believe me.
Y'shua here poses himself in the form of a riddle that identifies him as the Torah made flesh. No First Century Jew who knew the Torah and the Psalms would have concluded otherwise. It would have been blasphemy for Y'shua to claim to be the God of Israel, which he does not in this context, when understood in the Aramaic. Rather, he claims that the Father is with him. In John 1:1, which we discussed in Disputation II, remember that the apostle started us off with this revelation of the Torah being with the God of Israel in the beginning. Also, the only means we have of knowing the God of Israel is through his Torah, metaphorically his "Son." In fact, you could make a strong case that "Son of God" is a metaphor for the Torah, especially since we will show subsequently that Y'shua's conception, birth, ministry and death all have parallels to events that connect directly to the Torah.
Y'shua here interjects: "Truly, truly I tell you, the one believing in me, the works which I do, that one also will do, and greater (works) than these he will do, because I am going to the Father. (OK, so common sense tells us here that he is not the Father, else how can he go to the Father? The concept of a dual divinity boggles at least the rationally thinking mind). And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, this I will do that the Father may be glorified in (Ara. by means of or with) the son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. If you love me, you will shomer (keep or guard) my commandments.
If Yshua speaks as the Torah, those commandments are those of the Torah. And his followers are commanded to guard them, which alludes to the "fences" of Halachic observance. LIve within the fences and you will be protected from violating the commandment. The Halachah is there for your protection; not to be a burden.
This is not to say that the sages of Judah who codified the Halachah did not include some points which discriminate against the Joes, namely excluding them from marrying Jewish women and requiring them to relinquish their inheritance if they would convert. "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will speak (and it seems "write"). But these are matters for the God of Israel to deal with Judah concerning. If the hearts of Joes are truly turned toward our Jewish brothers, at some point our Jewish brothers are going to reflect on these discriminations and remedy them.
Simply broadening of the definition of the term rov, makes it possible to identify the House of Joseph globally ... as the root stock of the Cimmerian peoples, who through European colonization ... not only British colonization, have been scattered to every nation of the world. Re-evaluating their "fitness" meets the other major qualification, (spelled out in Yevamot 16b & 17a) by which Joes can again be accepted into the family of Israel. In time, the God of Israel will complete his work turning the hearts of the sons of Judah to their father, Judah, for his brother, Joseph, and the two families will be reunited.
But to believe this can be done outside of Halachah goes against the grain of Y'shua's own endorsement of Halachic authority, not to mention the Laws of Return currently in practice. It may be that ultimately the invitation to Return will come through the secular and not the religious Jewish leadership, but most assuredly it will not come without the support and recommendation and authority of the rabbonim and their Halachic guidelines. They may decide to limit Halachah for Joes to that which was held in common between the Northern and Southern kingdoms at the time of their split. This would exclude later practices that developed in the eight centuries between the exile of the Northern Kingdom and the codification of Halachah after the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed. But that is their call. Not Ephraim's. Whatever heart brings that reform about will be held back from revealing itself until Ephraim becomes a lot less arrogant. Those who try an end run around the rabbonim should be prepared to be sacked behind the lines.
The very measure of our love for Y'shua (via his identity as Torah manifest) is therefore the extent to which we observe the Halalchah, which in turn, guards and protects the commandments. And those who renounce the Halachah, don't know Y'shua at all. How precisely he said of these, "Depart from me. I never knew you, workers of anomia. (Greek and Aramaic: without or against the Torah). Matthew 7:22-24
Those who profess to be of Ephraim and who dispute Halachic authority may have no issue with the interpretation of the Torah to make it practical and vital or to guard its precepts, commandments and decrees. The problem stems rather from inbred animosity against the Jewish brethren and especially its leadership, the rabbonim. But Ephraim must come to the understanding that it cannot fulfill its destiny without the rabbonim. Else, how can Ephraim as one of the 10 men from all the nations grab hold of the tzitziyot (fringes) of a teacher of Judah and ask to learn about the God of Israel without learning Halachah?
In 1988, we were privileged to meet with the former chief rabbi, Shlomo Goren, of blessed memory, in his succah in Jerusalem during the festival of Succot.. He said that he did not think the Temple would be rebuilt and sacrifices would be offered again until the Jewish people as a whole come to a better understanding or some kind of revelation of the "blood of the sacrifice." Otherwise all of these animals would die in vain, since the blood service -- as Halachah states -- is the part of the service most intimately associated with the kavanah -- or proper intent, which would otherwise invalidate the sacrifice. .
The evolution of kavanah (intent or thought) of blood sacrifices is not unlike the evolution that needs to take place in the hearts and minds of Joseph-Ephraim as it pertains to Halachah.
At Yeshiva Ohr Someah in Jerusalem, one of the questions frequently asked is "What does Halachah mean?" Our answer to that question was singled out by one of the rabbis who taught us. Simply: "Halachic observance is the most perfect expression of our love for the God of Israel and His Torah, not to say that there are not less perfect expressions."
That is the kavanah, the intent, that Joes should bring into their walk with the God of Israel (which is the literal meaning of Halachah ... how one walks). Maybe one can walk on other paths and get to the same place, but the walk the God of Israel wants us to take with Him is via Halachah.
These are strong indicators of Y'shua's endorsement of Halachah, which means the burden of proof related to problematic doctrine such as his Deity or the Sacred Name theolgoy, must come from and not contradict Halachah and Joes, there we are hard-pressed to find it.
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