Why We Don’t Unquestioningly Follow Rabbinic Tradition

Matthew 15:2, Tradition of the elders. These were Jewish traditions or legal regulations not found in the Torah, may of which violated the letter and spirit of the Torah as Yeshua goes on to teach in the next few verses.

Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? (Matt 15:2)

Many folks coming to the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith stumble have the same question. They reason that, since the Christian church purports to be anti-Torah and since the Jewish Torah sages purport to be pro-Torah, we need to follow these Jewish elders and scholars, since, ostensibly, they have been faithful to the Torah for all these millennia and we can learn from them and need to follow their example. 

On the surface, this seems like a reasonable proposition. The problem is that as one digs below the surface veneer and gets to the truth of the matter, neither of these propositions is correct. In fact, the Jews have veered from the Torah as much as the Christians by their non-biblical traditions. In fact, Christians, in most cases, are better off than the Jews. Why is this? At least a solid Bible-believing Christian has received the basic gospel message of Yeshua the Messiah being the mankind’s Savior and Redeemer. A religious Jew probably has not. Moreover, Christians one the one hand while purporting that the Torah-law was “annulled”, “done away with”, “nailed to the cross” or “fulfilled” actually follow much of the Torah (which they call the moral law [e.g. don’t lie, steal, murder, commit adultery, covet, etc.). They just stumble over the dietary laws, the Sabbath and the biblical feasts and a few other minor Torah laws. These are the facts. 

Now let’s address the issue as to why a disciple of Yeshua cannot follow rabbinic tradition lock, stock and barrel, or hook, line and sinker, as they say. If you think that we are to do so, then please give me chapter and verse in Scripture that states that Yeshua or his apostles affirmed ALL of Jewish tradition? You can’t find one, for there are none. On the contrary, Yeshua told the Jewish leaders of his day, “By your traditions, you make of no effect the Word of Elohim” (Mark 7:6–13; Matt 15:3–9), and then in Matthew chapter five, he goes on to elaborate and condemn certain traditions of the elders that had in fact nullified the laws of Elohim. Moreover, Paul was a Pharisee of the Pharisees at the highest level and was trained by Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel the Great, yet Paul counted the Jewish traditions all as dung (Phil 3:8). Does this bother you and go against your theology? If so, your problem is not with this author, but with Yeshua and Paul—with the Word of Elohim!

Moreover, the very Jewish leadership of the first century who purported, as some suggest, to have the truth that we need to follow, told the disciples to stop preaching the gospel in the name of Yeshua, which they refused to do (Acts 6:33–42). This begs the question: Why should we follow those who hated and still hate Yeshua to this day? 

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Why We Don’t Follow Rabbinic Tradition

Matthew 15:2, Tradition of the elders. These were Jewish traditions or legal regulations not found in the Torah, may of which violated the letter and spirit of the Torah as Yeshua goes on to teach in the next few verses.

Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? (Matt 15:2)

Many folks coming to the Hebraic roots of the Christian faith stumble have the same question. They figure that, since the Christian church purports to be anti-Torah and since the Jews purport to be pro-Torah, we need to follow the Jews, since, ostensibly, they have been faithful to the Torah for all these millennia and we can learn from them and need to follow their example. 

On the surface, this seems like a reasonable proposition. The problem is that as one digs below the surface veneer and gets to the truth of the matter, neither of these propositions is correct. In fact, the Jews have veered from the Torah as much as the Christians by their non-biblical traditions. Perhaps, in fact, the Christians are better off than the Jews. At least they have the basic gospel message, and they, while claiming to be antiTorah actually follow much of the Torah (which they call the moral law). They just stumble over the dietary laws, the Sabbath and the biblical feasts and a few other minor Torah laws. These are the facts.

Now to the question about why we don’t follow rabbinic tradition lock, stock and barrel, or hook, line and sinker, as they say. Please give me chapter and verse in Scripture that states that Yeshua affirmed ALL Jewish tradition? On the contrary, he told the Jewish Continue reading


 

What is Moses’ seat and should we follow the modern rabbinic Jews?

The seat of Moses in the Chorazin in Israel (bibleplaces.com/chorazin/)

The seat of Moses in the Chorazin in Israel (bibleplaces.com/chorazin/)

Yesterday, a well-meaning reader of this blog posted a question in the comments section. He wondered why I didn’t come to the “higher level” spiritually by following the oral traditions of the modern-day Jews who are the spiritual descendants of the ancient Pharisees of Yeshua’s day. As supposed proof that we should, he quoted Matthew 23:2 and 3 where Yeshua declares that because the  Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat, we will come to a higher level in our spiritual walk do whatever they tell us to do. (My short answer to this questions is this: If they haven’t discovered the most obvious truth that Yeshua is the Messiah, then…well, I’ll let you guess what the rest of my response would be.)

This is, in fact, a fair question, and is one that many who are leaving churchianity find themselves asking when they begin to explore the Hebraic roots of their faith.

Here is my long response.

Matthew 23:2, Moses seat. Here Yeshua is speaking against the leaven of the Pharisees and their non-biblical traditions and doctrines of men. They had omitted the weightier matters of the Torah. Moses’ seat in Matt 23:2 is easily misunderstood today when we don’t have all the facts. Because the Pharisees sit in Moses seat, Yeshua told his disciples to observe whatever they tell you to observe. The problem is that most people have no idea what Yeshua was really saying here. “Moses’ seat” was a colloquial expression that was understood by his listeners of that day, but the meaning is lost to most who read this passage today. Moses’ seat refers to a literal throne-like chair that sat in Jewish synagogues (where the Pharisees were the officiants) from which the religious leaders would make judgments concerning spiritual and civil matters. (One can type in “Moses’ seat” into an internet search engine and find actual photos of these seats that have discovered in ancient Jewish synagogues.) In a modern church, it would be like the pastors and board of elders making decisions for the church body they minister over. These leaders do not have the authority, however, to change the word or law of Elohim—only to administer it. Even the pope has a throne from which he makes rulings for the Roman Catholic Church.

Matthew 23:3, Whatever they tell you. The discussion that follows is in response to the idea that because the Pharisees (and the modern rabbinic Jews who are their spiritual descendants) sit in Moses’ seat, we should do whatever they tell us to do including following their traditions and oral law. Some even have embraced the idea that following rabbinic Judaism is to walk a higher spiritual road (because they ostensibly understand and observe the Torah. What is the truth of the matter and what is Yeshua really saying in this passage?

Admittedly, there is much we can learn from our Jewish brothers. If you have read my Torah study guides and commentaries and my hundreds of teachings, you would know that I draw heavily from the wisdom of the Jewish sages. My approach is very multi-faceted and my learning is very broad. In my mind, and in the mind of Yeshua and apostles (as we shall point out below) the sun does not rise and set on the Jewish sages. Moreover, the Judaism of today is not that of Yeshua’s era. It is true that the rabbinates of today are the direct Continue reading