UNDERSTANDING THE ORAL LAW By Harvey A. Smith Is what is called the Torah Sheba'al Peh (Or

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UNDERSTANDING THE ORAL LAW By Harvey A. Smith Is what is called the Torah Sheba'al Peh (Oral Law) really G-d's Holy Word The real issues facing us today is: Are we in Messianic Judaism following the Torah min Hashaymyim,( the Torah from Heaven), which we call Biblical Judaism, for want of a better word, or are the Rabbinic Jews of the Orthodoxy which call their faith, Torah Judaism really the keepers of the Torah Min Hashomaim. Have the Orthodox Rabbis, kept the covenant with the Almighty? Is the Torah She-bik-htab,( The Written Law) taught and its precepts kept, or is the Torah Sheb'al Peh, the oral law, the covenant that the Rabbis teach and try to keep.. Mixed in with all this is the Gramatria of Cabalah which allows one to re arrange the letters of a word in Torah to mean something different than the literal meaning. To quote the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Dr. I Jakobovits and Mr Chaim Schimmel, a lawyer and co-founder and chairman of the Hovevey Torah educational movement, plus being the Chairman of Yeshiva Etz Chaim, and convenor of the A.O.J.S. speakers panel to British Universities... "The Jewish people are frequently called "The People of the Book, yet if one were to search out a people who follow literally the Bible's behest, one might be led to the Samaritans, who still practise their religion on the outskirts of Shechem (Nablus) or the Karaites who are now settled to the south of modern Tel-Aviv,(Israel), but NEVER TO THE JEWISH PEOPLE. THEY DO NOT NOW FOLLOW THE LITERAL WORD OF THE BIBLE, NOR HAVE THEY EVER DONE SO.(personally i take issue with that because under David, and Solomon and under Ezrah and Nehemiah, the Word of Torah was supreme). They have been fashioned and ruled by the verbal interpretation of the Written word, more particularly by the "Torah" which embraces both the written and the Oral law" Make no mistakes about it, no matter what they call themselves, they do not follow the literal covenant that Moshe gave them at Mt Sinai. Could it be that this is the sin that has kept our people in exile for over 1900 years?? Certainly we cannot fault the Rabbis for writing commentaries of the Torah, a practice that every religion and denomination has followed to explain the Word of G-d... and for sure we cannot fault the Rabbis for trying to explain the code of Law that is contained within our covenant with the Almighty. But to claim that the Torah Sheb'al Peh, the Oral Law is from G-d and was given by Moses at Sinai and is as Holy as the Written Torah can very well be the sin of the Fathers which is passed from one Generation to the other. Hence is the Torah Sheb'al Peh, a Torah at all?? Certainly the Experts of Jews for Judaism who claim Torah Judaism as their Faith, know that they do not practice the Torah as is written, so do not be deceived by Titles...We in Messianic Judaism are not Samaritans or Karaites... We are the inheritors of the Torah from Heaven, to keep it pure and to share the Revelation of Messiah with our people, which is the true Torah. We also have a halacha, It is in the New Covenant the 16 letters which were written to show us how to fulfill and live in the Joy of the New Covenant. In this article i will endeavor explore the Oral Tradition of the Orthodoxy of Rabbinic Judaism and will show where it veered off the path of Biblical Judaism, the Judaism of Mosheh Rabbanu (Moses). TORAH1, THE ORAL TRADITION,(SHEBE'AL PEH) IS THE SHEBE'AL PEH (THE ORAL LAW OF THE RABBIS) A TORAH? IS THE SHEBE'AL PEH INSPIRED BY THE ALMIGHTY? WAS THE SHEBE'AL PEH GIVEN TO MOSES AT SINAI BY G-D? DOES THE SHEBE'AL PEH OF THE RABBIS' EQUAL IN INSPIRATION TO THE "TORAH SHE-BIKHTAB" (THE WRITTEN TORAH)? These are the pertinent questions that we must answer. According to Rabbi Neusner, a foremost Talmudist, the Oral Tradition really begins with Rabbi Akiba in the end of the First century, and reaches its height in the second century under Judah HaNasi with the codifying of the Mishnah, the central core of the Oral Tradition. The two main arguments that are used in Rabbinic Judaism to prove that the Oral Tradition has its origins at Sinai are as follows: I) "That it is difficult, if not impossible, to make sense of the written law, without an oral tradition" (Talmud Shabbat 31A). Rabbi Hillel, a Babylonian Rabbi who existed during the time of the Messiah, even went further, to say that without an oral tradition, it is impossible to even identify the letters of the alef-Bet" (alphabet). II)"That there are principles of Oral Law which date back from the same time as the written law." III) The Rabbis had made note that they must now share the Torah with the Nations of the world (due to the rise of Christianity), so that the differences between the true people of G-d would become clouded. Since the Rabbis' considered that the gentiles had stolen Torah from them, the only way for G-d to discern between the true people of G-d was through the Sheba'al Peh" .(Tanh.,Ki Tissa, 58b) When the Gentiles would say to G-d, we are the true children of the L-rd because we keep the Torah, the L-rd would respond to them: "do you know my secret?" They would respond: What secret. and the L-rd responds, my children know my secret". (R Judah, Pes.R. 14b) That secret is the Oral Tradition, the Torah Sheba'al Peh!" IV) The oral tradition are the codes and rules for observing the Mitzvot that the Rabbis attribute to Moses. They're statement "That the teaching which came to us from the Mishnah of the Sages is of identical date and origin with that which is derived by interpretation of the Scriptural word, all is given by One G-d and communicated by one and the same Prophet", must be rejected. It is noted that some statements of Mishnah date back to the time of Joshua or even Moses. However they were discussions of how to handle certain leperous signs in the camp. Another dealt with the daughters of Zelophehad when they first settled in the land of Israel. These tractates were by the Rabbis considered amongst the first Mishnayot. And as we shall see later that even the framers of the Mishnah did not intend that they should become Scripture but when the overwhelming majority of Rabbis began to subscribe to the notion that the Mishnah was so powerful that it was even more precious than the Torah. (Num.R., Naso, xiv, 10.), the framers of the Oral tradition succumbed to the majority and Oral Tradition became the modis operandi of Rabbinic Judaism. Of course all this hinges on the Rabbinic theory that Moses did not receive the entire Torah at Sinai (Exodus R. 41). Rabbi Akiba asks rhetorically "and did then Moses learn the entire Torah" and he replies "No, G-d taught him only the principles of Torah". Also Sefer Ha-Ikarim III,23 states "It is not possible to claim that G-d gave the Torah in such a way that it should provide for all times and all events. Moses was given only the Principles. Of course Torah Davarim (Deut.) 31:24 states that Moses wrote them all down. The Book of Davarim gives testimony that the covenant between the Almighty and children is what G-d dictated to Moses at Sinai and Moses spoke to the Children of Israel to keep. The warnings to world wide dispersion for breaking the Torah She-bikhtab(Written Law) are a sinister spector of prophecy that warn us to go back to the Bible. This article is the result of my personal study and the quotes come out of several books: "The Oral Law" by H. Chaim Schimmel, "The Book of Redemption" by Ramban (Nachmanides), "Rabbinic Anthology" by Moses Montifiore. DID THE RABBIS TRY TO BUILD SAFEGUARDS AROUND THEIR WRITINGS IN ORDER TO PRESERVE THE WRITTEN WORD OF G-D? The Rabbis' intended to safeguard their writings and legislative capabilities by: 1. "Rabbinic legislation was not to be misrepresented as though it were inspired by prophecy. 2. Nor was it to be misrepresented as though it were Torah legislation 3. Torah law and decisions of earlier Bet Dins were not to be abrogated 4. The will of the People 5. The Will of G-d 6. The Will of the Bet Din Because of these severe restrictions, the Rabbis sought other means or loopholes to create new laws. First they developed what is called "Legal Fiction, where a statement which is known to be Untrue, but no debate is allowed to make it invalid or denied, so some new law could be enacted." (If their laws were of G-d and not man made, there would not have been this need to lie and then go around the old law to bring in a new more workable law) Once again to quote Mr Schimmel (The Oral law pg 57) "Yabneh was a time of comparative calm in the midst of political upheavels in the land, and the SAGES FELT THAT THEY MUIST GRASP THE OPPORTUNITY TO ESTABLISH THE AUTHORITY OF HALACHAH."(So evidently before Yabneh 1 century CE, Halachah was not the established authority in the Jewish communities and certainly did not come from Moshe MeSinai)(This is recorded in the Talmud for all to see). The classic example of "Legal Fiction" is Hillel's famous Pruzbal (Gittin 36a) Hillel cited a pretence that a person's debt was assigned to the Bet Din until after the Sabbatical Year. The reason for this was, during the Sabbatical Year according to Torah Law, all debts were to be forgiven. By doing the above they kept the man in debt for after the Sabbatical Year the man's debt was reassigned by the Bet Din back to the lender, thus successfully circumventing the law which said "His debts shall be forgiven" That they say was fulfilled by the lender, who forgave everyone their debts during that year.(Note he had already passed ownership of the debts to the Bet Din, so he did not have any debtors to fulfill the law.) Remember it is the Almighty who looks on the heart. No wonder Yeshua said "Why do you transgress the Words of G-d for your ordinances" "You despise the Word of G-d by your Ordinances" Matt 15:3-7 and again " because this people has come near with their mouth and has honored me with their lips, but their heart is far from me and their REVERENCE TOWARD ME IS THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN WHICH HAVE BEEN TAUGHT" (The Gospel of Matthew according to primitive Hebrew Text) MISHNAH It would be wrong to continue this discussion without a comment or two on the Mishnah. i am quoting again from "The Oral Law" "The Mishnah is the basis of the Oral Law which is known to us, and its formulation was entirely the work of the SAGES. THERE IS NO SUGGESTION THAT THE TEXT OF THE MISHNAH IS OF DIVINE ORIGIN." "The Mishnah comprises a simple statement of the law or of a difference in Rabbinic opinion concerning the Law and DOES NOT SEEK SCRIPTURAL PROOF." What the Rabbis' failed to see was that by circumventing the rules of Safeguards, they removed from themselves all traces of accountability. Anyone Rabbi could change the laws according to his or her whims, without any type of accountability. Certainly if they had stayed within their parameters, many of their decisions and legislations would have been widely accepted by the people instead of them rebelling against the harsh oppression of Rabbinic Rules that have been handed down as from G-d and Moses at Sinai, in direct opposition to their own rules of conduct. Because of these great Sins of the Rabbis' our people have been kept captive, until now. Thank G-d, that He is bringing our people back to Eretz Yisrael, according to Ezekiel 36, and Isa. 11, where it is not for Israel's sake but for G-d's Holy Name Sake, which they have profaned amongst the heathen when they said "We are the people of the L-rd and have left His land." In conclusion, the reason Halachah is so great a Sin, is that the people were taught these were G-d's Laws, so now when a person rebells against one of these Rabbinic Laws, they believe they are rebelling against G-d. Soo the rebellion becomes a hatred for G-dly things. We have a similiar problem in Messianic Faith. There are some Shepherds who heap laws and legalism unto their sheep, causing them to rebell and do the same thing. Let us not Add to the Words of the Almighty or detract from them. Let us fulfill the New Covenant Mitzvot by doing those things that are acceptable to HaShem. There is much to be learned in Rabbinic Literature. There is much to understand especially in the area of Torah Law. Remember the Rabbis' were not only concerned with Law but of how to keep our people together during this harsh exile and to govern when allowed our little communities amongst the sea of Gentile nations. IS THE HALACHAH (ORAL TRADITION OF THE RABBIS BASED ON TORAH OR GRECIAN PHILOSOPHY? I have said before that i believed that Orthodox Halachah, was based primarily on Philosophy and Logic rather than the Torah from Heaven. The Rabbis during the age of the Mishnah, (100-250 CE), made it rather plain that they were following the Torah MeEretz, rather than the Torah from Heaven. A heavy dispute between two Rabbis on the issue, caused the dismissal of one from the Sanhedrin. This principal is known as "S'Bara". The Talmud ascribes the authority for many Halachic laws as being "S'Bara". "What need is there for basing the decision on a Biblical verse"."It is S'Bara", meaning the decision is logical so therefore Torah, whether or not it is based on the Torah. (page 3 Not in Heaven by foremost Orthodox Talmudist, Eliezer Berkovits) With the re-establishment of the Nation of Israel, the Halachists found themselves in a quandry. While in exile, all they could think was that halachah had many problems there because it was laws written for Jews who were supposed to be living in the Land of Israel. Now back in the land, they have found according to Rabbi Berkovits that the Halachah is also alien to Eretz Yisrael (land of Israel). In his book, Not in Heaven, Rabbi Berkovits is calling for a total re-evaluation of halachah, calling it the captive of the Galut, (Exile). This more than ever points to the fallacies of halachah of being only the work of man and not of the Almighty. The problem with Rabbi Berkovits answers to the problems of Halachah is that he wants to keep using it to get around the Biblical Torah laws, especially that which is connected to the land and the debts of individuals. "Shmitta". These are the very abuses that caused our exile in the first place. I heartily suggest the reading of the book "Not in Heaven" published by Ktav as to an understanding of the "Nature and Function of Halakha" While we suscribe to the fact, that there are many Halachic rules that are good, we must also suscribe to the Halacha, the position of commentary, and explanation. There is a treasure of History within the Halachaic reports as well. As Jews and Messianic Believers we must totally reject the premise that the Sheba'al Peh is in fact a Torah, which was given to Moses at Sinai. **************************************************************************** - Laura -- "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Councellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." - Yeshaya 9:5 (9:6) "To the Jews who had believed him, Yeshua said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."" - Yochanan 8:32-33


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