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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