The Netzari Faith

Netzarim, Original followers of Yeshua & His 12

 

 

REBBE YESHUA'S UPBRINGING & CHILDHOOD IN TORAH OBSERVANCE

 

As far as written Torah observance by Rebbe Yeshua in the New Testament; accounts (Luke 2:39-52, Luke 2:21-32, Luke 2:39, Luke 2:41, John 8:46; Galatians 4:4) stress that Yeshua was brought up as an observant Jewish child in the traditions and faith of his fathers (who were Jews).

 

The Oral Torah and Teffilin/Totofot (Phylacteries) wearing was certainly existent in that day because history proves that, especially being that he grew up in Galilee which was predominantly Pharisee and Hasidic (of that day). Mat 23:5 indicates Rebbe Yeshua's endorsing the custom of wearing Teffilin in modesty.

 

There is no written instruction on how to make Teffilin (Phylacteries) or a Mezuzah (scroll affixed on door post), nor is there a written instruction on how to put them on your arm or head or door post. And yet, the text assumes the people will know because they had the Oral Torah to explain it. (Deut 6:8-9) Yeshua clearly did not reject Teffilin which is an element of Oral Torah.

 

REBBE YESHUA'S TORAH TEACHING OF TORAH OBSERVANCE

 

Rebbe Yeshua told his followers to follow and observe the teachings and instructions of the Rabbis (Mat 23:1-3) but not to be hypocrites like the corrupted ones. No different than any Jewish teaching against hypocrisy. That is certainly a Torah-observant statement as we know the commandment written in Deut. 17:8-12. This would indicate that he upheld all or at least the majority of the Rabbinic provisions, Halachot (protocol for keeping commandments) and fence laws in addition to the actual written Torah.

 

He also said that he didn't come to change the Torah, and that if anyone kept and taught others to keep even the smallest commandments of the Torah that they would be considered great. He also stated that if any broke the commandments and taught others to break them that they would be considered least. (Mat 5:17-20) Those statements certainly indicate that Torah observance was important to him.

 

When Rebbe Yeshua was asked, what was the greatest commandment in the Torah, Yeshua replied with the beginning of the most important scriptural prayer that every Jew recites 2 times each day, the Shema (Mark 12:28-30) which is found in the Torah. That should give serious credence to the statement that Rebbe Yeshua was certainly Torah observant and that he lived and taught Torah observance according to Rabbinic institution.

 

Another extremely vital point to make, is that the Shema is the very scroll that is put inside of the boxes of the Teffilin and in Mezuzzah. For him to make such a profound statement to his students and to the people around him when asked about the most important commandments and recites the beginning of the Shema... it is more than reasonable to assert that he surely layed Teffilin as any good Jew does. In fact it is not reasonable to even assume that he didn't put on Teffilin, based on these facts that the NT does clearly indicate.

 

Something that else that needs to be considered. The New Testament constantly speaks of Rebbe Yeshua being a "Tzadik" or a "righteous person." We know that when a Jew is referred to as a "Tzadik" it means that they have to be Torah observant. In fact, it means that their Torah observance has to exceed and surpass the Letter of the Law. That is what that word means. All the Sages were referred to as Tzadikim.

 

REBBE YESHUA'S TORAH OBSERVANCE IN DRESS

 

He kept the ordinances prescribed in the Torah in terms of his attire, as the Torah commands that man wear a Tallit (prayer shawl) with Tzitzit (a four cornered garment with fringes/tassels). When the sick woman reached for him, she grabbed his Tzitzit (fringes/tassels) (Mark 6:56; Mat 9:20; Luke 8:44).

 

Here is a key point. Because, we understand that the NT clearly records his Torah observance in terms of wearing holy garments. It would be reasonable to assert and to make a educated guess that he would have surely layed Teffilin. Especially since the commandment of Tzitzit is closely related and associated with Mezzuzah (scroll affixed on door post) and Teffilin, all elements of the Oral Torah.

 

REBBE YESHUA'S TORAH OBSERVANCE IN THE BLESSINGS AND PRAYERS

 

He used and taught the traditional prayers that were instituted by the Sages such as the Amidah - commonly called the "L-rd’s Prayer" (Mat 6:9-13). His special prayer is merely a shortened form of the third, fifth, sixth, ninth and fifteenth of the Eighteen Benedictions of the Amidah (Shimoneh Esrei) which is an element of Halachah (protocol to keep commandments). And this permutative combination of the Amidah is indicated by some of the Sages and is recorded in the Talmud, and as there were other permutative formulations of the Amidah by other Sages as well. Also to note, some of the Sages have different rulings and permutative formations of the Amidah prayer, but the point is to show that he at least observed this which is an element of Oral Torah.

 

He recited the Halachic blessings over matzah and wine when he gave thanks at meals (Luke 22:19-20). This is, again, elements of Oral Torah.

 

Another point I would like to make is, is that much of the prayers and blessings that one can find in their Siddur (or Jewish daily prayerbook) are not found in the scriptures at all. So these prayers and blessings were certainly Oral Torah or at least instituted traditions passed down before Rebbe Yeshua from the Rabbis generation to generation.

 

REBBE YESHUA'S SABBATH OBSERVANCE

 

Many people love to point out the moments where it seems as though Yeshua is attacking, disobeying and discrediting the Oral Torah and Halachot of the Sages, such as the Shabbat (Sabbath), the washing of hands, etc... but they do not realize that the Talmud gives instances that support Rebbe Yeshua's position in each of the cases that it was brought up. These same instances, reveals very clearly that Yeshua surely upheld and respected the Oral Torah in every way. Since the Sabbath was brought up, I will explain each instance that this argument has been used and explain how my position is not without credible reason.

 

Carrying on the Sabbath argument

 

When Rebbe Yeshua told the man to pick his bed up and carry it on Shabbat he was not denouncing the Rabbinic authority or the Oral Torah, he was in accordance to the Rabbinic authority and the Oral Torah. The laws of Eruv is part of the 7 Rabbinic laws by which the issue at hand proves that Yeshua was in accordance to these laws.

 

The Oral Torah permits carrying within an enclosed "private" area on Shabbat and other holidays (Yom Tov). This area can either be physical or symbolic. Such an area enclosed and considered "private" may vary in size from a small home to an entire community depending on various circumstances and specific situations. The Talmud specifies both the definitions of an enclosure and how to render an entire area a private domain from a small home to an entire community. This is normally done with strings that are fastened around the "private domain." This string indicates where the people may walk and carry on the Shabbat.

 

In a Jewish community, especially where this instance occurred in the NT, the Pool of Bethesda, indicates the location of where this sick man of many years was with his mat (bed) and Rebbe Yeshua was, there would have been Eruv strings fastened around the domain. We know that by historical records and by traditions that are still practiced to this very day. To think that only in this moment, that the people ran and took down the Eruv string so that Rebbe Yeshua would break the Shabbat is not a reasonable assertion.

 

So we clearly see here, that Rebbe Yeshua did not violate the Sabbath, nor did he teach others to violate the Sabbath. The people who accused him, where either ignorant of the Torah's laws or they were simply hoping on that ignorance to be a means to persecute Rebbe Yeshua. The people who questioned the man and Yeshua, obviously, like this situation, they were uneducated on the subject and made statements and judgments that were incorrect.

 

There are many "fine print" regarding this issue, aside from the fact that this location indicates that the situation occurred with the Eruv strings.... another case can be argued. The man who carried his mat on Shabbat was not breaking the Eruv laws because his home was his bed. He was homeless. The Talmud says in the Shabbat portions that if a person is homeless or cannot afford to set up an Eruv or is unable to do it himself and has no one else to help him... The Eruv becomes himself and his belongings because he is unable to have an enclosed private area... Therefore, Yeshua was not at all violating the Sabbath.

 

There are claims that Exo 16:29 tells us it is forbidden to leave one's home on Shabbat. And many love to use this verse as a way to say Yeshua abandoned the laws of Shabbat. This assertion is false.

 

Talmud Bavli - Erubin 42a - "Rabbi Nachman said in the name of Rabbi Shmuel: "If one went out and did not know the legal distance he could traverse, he may walk on for a distance of two thousand medium steps. This will constitute the lawful limit of the Shabbat."

 

The NT says that Yeshua attended Shabbat gatherings outside of his home, hence he supported Oral Torah Halachot which permits one to leave one's house on Shabbat but no more distance than 2,000 medium steps. Also, you know of the stories of many people walking around the street on Shabbat recorded in the NT.

 

For further proof of this in the Torah, Leviticus 23:3 even says Shabbat is a day of holy gathering. The synagogues that Yeshua visited on Shabbat were obviously local gatherings at places that did not take a great deal of effort to reach.

 

Staying in your "place" is referring to the neighborhood where one lives, not one's home in the literal sense. I am sure you all can relate to the allegorical cliche or figure of speech... that one's village or town is their home.

 

Healing on the Sabbath

 

When Rebbe Yeshua healed people on the Sabbath, and the people including certain Pharisees/Seduccees were in opposition... they were only  1. uneducated on the matter (the people) and 2. were relying on the ignorance of the people to control them (the corrupted Pharisees/Seducees).

 

According to the Oral Torah or the Talmud... you would find that it is permitted to heal or save a life or tend to any emergent situation on the Shabbat. All laws are suspended to save a life or to tend to a dire emergency. Here, we see that Rebbe Yeshua was in accordance to the laws of the Torah.

 

The phrase, "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath," appears in the Rabbinical material of the Talmud (Mekilta 103b, Yoma 85b). This statement was a teaching by many Rabbinic scholars of Rebbe Yeshua's day. The Pharisee School of Hillel was famous for that quote. Yeshua was not saying anything separate from Judaism, he was upholding the teachings of Judaism.

 

The Sages frequently use the verse from Hosea 6:6, that helping people was of greater importance than observing the rituals and customs (Sukkah 49b, Deuteronomy Rabbah on 16:18, etc.), just as Yeshua did. In fact, they used the same examples Rebbe Yeshua presented, David’s eating the Tabernacle bread and the Temple offerings made on the Sabbath, to demonstrate the same general principle, that the needs of life override the Sabbath restrictions (Y’lomm’denu, Yalkut II, par. 130, Tosefta Shabbat 15b).

 

We can clearly see now that the Pharisees and Seducees who were accusing Rebbe Yeshua were corrupted in their judgments against him. We also can tell very clearly that these particular Pharisees were heretical in the fact that they associated with the Seducees who Rabban Hillel, a Pharisee himself, stated were heretics.

 

Washing of Hands Ritual

 

Besides the Sabbath issues mentioned above, this is an argument that people love to use against Rebbe Yeshua's adherence to Rabbinic law and love to use against Judaism.

 

When the certain Pharisees questioned Yeshua about his disciples not doing the hand washing ritual it is important to note that they didn't question whether or not he washed his hands, they questioned his disciples. It is more than likely that he did wash His hands, but the disciples did not. What does this mean?

 

The Talmud states that the ritual of hand washing (Netilat Yadayin) is invalid if the mind and heart is not also "cleansing." In the Talmud, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, stated: "In life it is not the dead who make you unclean; nor is it the water you wash your hands with, but rather the ordinances of the King of Kings that purifies." Much later, Rabbi Maimonides (Rambam) made a similar comment, "For to confine oneself to cleaning the outward appearance through washing and cleaning the garment, while having at the same time a lust for various pleasures and unbridled license ... merits the utmost blame."

 

The Pharisees had judgment in their hearts instead of compassion, and therefore Yeshua contested their teachings because they were breaking commandments in their statements against them. They were not following their own teaching, and therefore were disgracing the laws of HaShem (G-d). It was by this reason that Yeshua responded that it is not that which goes into your mouth that makes you unclean, but rather that which comes out. He basically held a mirror in front of their faces. Contrary to the teaching that Yeshua was teaching against the laws of Kashrut (kosher dietary law), he was doing nothing of the sort, rather he was not even discussing the topic of food at all. The passage in Mark 7 has been grossly taken out of context.

 

The tradition of ritual purity; namely, washing the hands; is valid, however, invalid if your mind and your heart is not cleansing. The certain Pharisees were doing things to look pious and special, so others would see... yet they were filthy on the inside. The disciples didn't wash their hands possibly 'because they didn't feel they were clean inside or maybe they forgot, and therefore didn't do it in that instance. But we should consider the other verses that reveal that they certainly did observe this ritual of washing the hands.

 

Ya'acov (James) 4:8

“Draw nigh to G-d, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.”

 

The Pharisees taught that the Torah had been given to the community for the purpose of community... and therefore any competent person was capable of interpreting it, but that Rabbinical authority was paramount (Deut 17:9-12). Rebbe Yeshua also taught that Rabbinical authority was paramount (Matt 23:1-3). This is a good indication that Rebbe Yeshua viewed the Pharisaic doctrines and teachings as acceptable and authoritative.

 

Pharisees believed that the Oral Torah was also given to Moses along with the Written Torah at Mount Sinai. The scriptures in the book of Exodus supports this theory that there was an Oral Teaching given to Moses from G-d. The Written Torah is incomplete without the Oral Torah. Many of the teachings of Oral Torah was also practiced and taught by Reb Yeshua. In fact, all of the instances that are used against Rabbinic Judaism are the very instances that Yeshua was observing the Oral Torah. I personally find that fact to be a really bubble burster. A person would need to educate themselves on this subject in order to know these things, other wise they will continue to follow the perversions that have been spoonfed to those who do not know.

 

They (the Pharisees) were advocates of social improvement and were open to doctrinal developments because they believed that the Torah was a relevant social force. They considered the Torah to be a set table while at the same time being capable of being expanded to address new circumstances and new situations. This not only makes sense, but it is inevitable. They taught that the Torah provided continuity and was a basis for progress and development.

 

The "traditions of the elders" or also "customs" (minhag or mesorah) that were instituted were not to be taken as Biblical command, only secondary in that a tradition or a custom instituted in the community cannot supersede a Biblical commandment. Hence, one of the reasons why Rebbe Yeshua said "Why do you ALSO transgress the commandments of G-d by your tradition?" Yeshua was not defending the disciples, he said "why do you ALSO" indicating that the disciples DID transgress against the rabbinic authority, however, ALSO the Pharisees improperly used that Rabbinic instruction when they violated a Biblical command (not judging your brother favorably). Rebbe Yeshua was using their own teachings against them because they were violating the chain of command. A Rabbinic enactment or a tradition or custom cannot ever be above a Biblical commandment, it can only serve as an enhancement of the Biblical command and must be treated as secondary authority. And this is what the Pharisees taught.

 

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