Sunday, September 30, 2012

Did Paul Appoint Rabbis to Lead First-Century Congregations?

We seem to take for granted this idea that there should be rabbis in modern Messianic synagogues.  What is the New Testament precedent for such a title?  We see that plural elders were appointed in local communities.  But where is the mention of the office of Rabbi?  Does anyone know?

How to Systematize Messianic Theology

So I was thinking about adding a doctrinal statement in the FAQs section and then I got a little sidetracked and started contemplating how to systematize Messianic Theology.  The problem is figuring out how to adapt the protestant systematic framework to a Jewish framework.  But here's my initial list:



Theology Proper (G-d)

Nomonology (Law)


Trinitology (Trinity)

Pneumatology (Ruach)

Christology (Moshiach)

Bibliology (Scripture)

Hamartiology (Sin)

Soteriology (Salvation)

Ecclesiology (Community)

Antropology (Man)

Israelology (Israel)

Anyone have any suggestions as to categories or how to order the categories?  There should be a category for covenant as well but I can't think of a suitable Greek term that would come close to...I'd say Britology (as in the Hebrew "brit" for covenant) but that sounds too much like Britain...




Complete Mitzvot Categorized by Topic

Link


Mitzvot That Apply Today (In Exile and In the Land)

Link

Friday, September 28, 2012

Carl Kinbar's Definition of Judaism (It's Interesting)

So I'm all for dialogue and learning from other people's points of view.  Carl Kinbar today gave an interesting definition for Judaism.  Here it is:


A Useful Discussion with Carl Kinbar

So today on James' blog I had a discussion with Carl.  He made the assertion that the Talmud is a mandatory authority based on "clear" rulings.  I disputed this and Gene naturally chimed in saying that I was arrogant to argue against Carl's opinion.

So I cited a link to something which, all reasonable minds will agree, PROVES that there is nothing "clear" about the Talmudic decision-making process:

See here.

Enjoy.

Responding to Frequently Asked Questions

So I was toying with the idea of including a FAQs section.  Here is something I just came up with.  Let me know if anything should be changed.  Then, after the changes are made, I'll add a FAQs tab at the top of the screen.

Here's what I just came up with after breakfast:


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Netanyahu Draws Line in the Sand

Link


Confused and Hungry at Wednesday Night Church (on Yom Kippur)


Was Adam There with Eve When Eve Ate the Forbidden Fruit?


Here's the passage:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 


I never realized it before but it sounds like Adam was there, doesn't it?  What are your thoughts?  And why is this detail mentioned?

More Updates to Links Section

Be sure to let me know if there's any other helpful sites that should be included.

The Bullies of the Messianic Movement: How the MJRC Codified Racial Segregation and Class-Based Citizenship


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yom Kippur Starts Tonight (Tuesday) At Sundown

Just so you know...

MJRC Presents a Codification of Messianic Halacha! YIKES!!!

So I only found out about this yesterday after Gene and Carl Kinbar made fun of me for wanting to discover the principles of halacha.  It turns out that the MJRC has done precisely what I feared.  They created a codification of Messianic halacha.  I'm guessing this was VERY recent.  Here's the link:


The Danger of Disregarding Precedent


"Stare decisis et non quieta movere"   (stand by decisions and don't disturb the undisturbed)

In 200 C.E., Yehuda haNasi broke with precedent.  He took a legal system based on oral transmission and converted it into a written tradition.  

What's the big deal with violating precedent?  Who cares, right?  

You should.  And here's why...

Monday, September 24, 2012

This Book Looks AMAZING

Check this out.

Mishnah Debate on James' Blog

So James is having a little debate about the Mishnah at his blog.  I put in my two cents.  Check it out here.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

New and Improved Links Section

I extensively updated the Links section (see tab at the top) and I've recategorized some content on the other tabs.  Still figuring things out...  Also, if I accidentally deleted any previous links or you have a link to suggest then send me a message using the "Contact Me" tab at the top.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Aaronic Benediction (British Version)

I'd like you to hear "The L-rd Bless You" by John Rutter, one of the greatest choral composers to ever live.


How One Law is Justified and How One Law is NOT Justified



Some One Law Messianics are using faulty epistemological justifications for their position.  When these well-meaning people use faulty justifications, the main-line Messianic leaders come along and refute these justifications and go away thinking that the One Law position lacks merit.  So let's talk about the epistemology of One Law, how it is justified and how it is not justified.  That way we'll be more effective in demonstrating the merits of the One Law position.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Is the Mishnah an Accurate Representation of the Oral Tradition?

Zion was kind enough to give me a link to a VERY interesting article by Tim Hegg.  Unfortunately, I have some pressing things I have to do right now so I won't be able to finish the article until later on today.  But I'll give you all the link so that later on we can have a big debate  healthy discussion.  : )

Link to Hegg Article




Thursday, September 20, 2012

Etiquette for Comments

No, I'm not gonna give you all a lecture.  Not really...  Just wanted to say that there were 10,000+ visits in the first month of this blog.  And right now it's 300+ per day.  There's a lot of different folks visiting. I'm able to see that the major Messianic organizations are reviewing this blog regularly.

So....

...let's try to keep all of our comments constructive.  Everyone has been good about it so far.  As long as we avoid personal insults we'll be fine.  It's okay to attack a public figure who is preaching false doctrine.  If it's an elder in your community...well, that's different.

The debate has been good though.  I'm blessed by it.  I'm learning a lot from all of you and the process has been very rewarding.

Lastly, if anyone has any topics that they feel should be addressed in a post, feel free to use the Contact Me tab at the top.

Shalom,

Peter


Here's Me Messing About on Guitar

I recorded this on my laptop the other day...  

J. S. Bach - Prelude and Fugue n.2 in C Minor BWV 847 (WTC I)

Doesn't have anything to do with Judaism but...

Check this out

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Went to Wednesday Night Church Tonight...


Is the New Testament the Same as Written Torah? Question 40

I apologize in advance but I have a whole bunch of questions and I'm just going to throw them out there:

Israeli Military is Gearing Up

Link

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Refutation of the Divine Command Theory of Rabbinic Authority



There is a view gaining ground in the Messianic movement that credits Rabbinic Judaism with Divine authority--we'll call the Divine Command Theory [DCT].  The proponents are not even aware of the danger of this position--that it leads inexorably to the view that Halachic Codes have greater authority for practice than the New Testament!

Sounds crazy?  How could a Messianic ever allow a non-inspired text to have authority even over the New Testament?  I will now explain to you how it is not only possible but that it is already happening and may in fact be too late for some of the largest Messianic organizations.

First, I shall explain the implicit Rabbinic rationales for DCT, respond to those rationales, and then I shall explain the particular Messianic rationale for DCT which attempts to use Matthew 23 as a grant of Divine Authority to Rabbinic writings and respond to it.

The Rabbinic rationales for DCT are as follows:


(1) Power to Interpret Jewish Law.  Deuteronomy 17:9 refers to the "judge who is in office in those days" which is taken to mean that the institutional heads of Judaism have absolute authority to interpret Jewish Law.  Since the writings of the Sages were composed by the institutional heads of Judaism, the Rabbinic writings represent the official interpretation of Jewish Law;

(2) Power to legislate Jewish Law.  Numbers 11:16-17 refers to the establishment of the proto-Sanhedrin, a collection of leaders who are given "the spirit which is upon [Moses]".  The Sages of Rabbinic Judaism, while not having sat on the Sanhedrin, are a substitute for this institution and fulfill its role;

(3) Power to legislate/interpret Jewish Law (alternative theory based on Rabbinic writings carrying the authority of accepted practice).  Even if the Rabbis are not a substitute for the Sanhedrin or other judges, their writings have nevertheless undergone a transmutation of authority from personal to institutional by the process of their writings being endowed with the authority of accepted practice.  In Judaism, de facto authority is de jure authority.  Therefore, the Rabbinic Writings in partnership with contemporary communities, have collectively fulfilled the office of Moses.

Response to the Rabbinic rationales for DCT:


Of these rationales, the strongest by far is the third.  The other two don't work because Rabbinic Authority could never meet the criteria for the institutions referred to in Deuteronomy 17 and Numbers 11 and even if it did those institutions had very narrow jurisdiction and were not responsible for the legislation of halacha.  But the third rationale attempts to overcome these weaknesses by proposing that the real authority behind the Rabbinic writings is the authority granted from the contemporary institutions of Judaism--the authority of accepted practice.  If the end-product of Rabbinic Judaism--the Codes--have been accepted by a consensus of contemporary Jewish communities then that would make the Codes the de facto authority for halacha.

It's important to understand that Moses himself was bound by the Written Torah.  He was prohibited from making unConstitutional legislation, legislation that violated the letter or spirit of the Written Torah.  In other words, Moses was prohibited from going against the Divine will.  This means that he had to put into place measures to ensure that subsequent holders of the Mosaic office (i.e. various institutions) would not overstep their Constitutional authority.

One of these Constitutional safeguards was the prohibition of writing down the oral tradition (Gittin 60b).  Presumably, the fear was that a written oral tradition would finalize that which was intended to be continually evolving and, in the process of finalization, render unConstitutional errors permanent.

The Written Torah specifies that the oral tradition was a verbal dialogue:

"Every word [davar] which I am instructing you, you shall do it," (Deut. 12:32).

and:

 "..in each generation, the head of the court or the prophet of that generation would take notes of the teachings which he received from his masters for himself, and teach them verbally in public," (Rambam, Intro to Mishneh Torah).

There was deemed to be an ongoing dialogue between the halachist of each generation and G-d Himself:

  "A Talmudic expression of the dialogic view of revelation is the interpretation of the verse in Proverbs (1:8): 'Hear, my son, the instruction of they father, and forsake not the teaching (torat) of they mother,' where 'father' is said to refer to God, and 'mother' is said to refer to the community of Israel (Knesset Yisrael).  In this view, the Torah is revealed directly by God as well as through the community of Israel.  Torah is the product of an ongoing dialogue between God and Israel.  Accordingly, the dialogic view perceives the prophet as a 'partner in the work of revelation.'  An example of this perspective is the text, 'Rabbi Judah says: ...the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses:  Behold, I shall speak to you and you shall answer Me,'" pg. 25, In Partnership with God by Byron Sherwin.

The vertical dialogue took place between the halachists of each generation and G-d;  The horizontal dialogue took place between the teachers and their students.

Rambam describes the initial links in the chain of horizontal, oral transmission:

"Even though the Oral Law was not transcribed, Moses, our teacher, taught it in its entirety in his court to the seventy elders. Elazar, Pinchas, and Joshua received the tradition from Moses. [In particular, Moses] transmitted the Oral Law to Joshua, who was his [primary] disciple, and instructed him regarding it.

Similarly, throughout his life Joshua taught the Oral Law. Many elders received the tradition from him. Eli received the tradition from the elders and from Pinchas. Samuel received the tradition from Eli and his court. David received the tradition from Samuel and his court," (Intro to Mishneh Torah).

And Rambam goes on to describe the continuation of the transmission through the prophets, etc.

If it had been possible to effectively finalize the halacha in a code, would not these great men have codified the halacha?

It was because codification of halacha was impossible that they continued to transmit the oral tradition through the oral, dialogic process.

It's also important to understand that the dialogic process involved machloket (debate).  This active, critical process (as opposed to passive reception) ensured that any errors that came up could be resolved.  Debate was also seen as a necessary check to despotic tendencies which might eventually erode the supremacy of the Written Torah.  Nahmanides was a firm supporter of debating the supposed unquestionable authority of the Sages:

"...in thirteenth-century Spain, Nahmanides (Moses ben Nahman) expressed this view in his glosses to Maimonides's Sefer Ha-Mitzvot, 'Notwithstanding my ardent desire to be a disciple of the earlier authorities, to establish and maintain their views, to [adorn myself] by making their [views] a gold chain about my neck and a bracelet upon my hand, I shall not serve them as a 'donkey carrying books.'  I shall explain their methods and appreciate their value, but when their views cannot be comprehended by me, I shall debate before them in all modesty, I shall judge according to what appears best in my eyes...for God gives wisdom in all times and in all ages,'" (In Partnership with God by Byron Sherwin).

The Messianic Rationale for DCT:


The Messianic rationale for DCT is based on Matthew 23:1-4 which says:

"Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying 'The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:  All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.  For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."

Messianic proponents of DCT view this as a carte blanche authority for "normative" Judaism (i.e. the de facto authority of Judaism).

Response to the Messianic Rationale for DCT:


The response to this is twofold:

(1) Yeshua endorsed the pre 70 C.E. halachic system in which oral transmission was still employed.  For the reasons stated above, it is unlikely He could've endorsed the end-product of Rabbinic Judaism--codified halacha;

(2) The other problem with this view for Messianics is that Rabbinic halacha preempts all matters in which Messianics might like to someday establish their own halacha.  But if Messianics accept the divine command theory of rabbinic authority then they forfeit the right to establishing halacha that contradicts codified halacha--in effect, they grant the Codes a higher authority than the New Testament!

I've gotta run but I'll talk more about this later.  Hope everyone had a lovely Rosh Hashanah!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Instances Where Yeshua Violated MODERN Rabbinic Halachah


So Gene asked a great question (I love a good question).  He asked:


Online English Translation of Shulchan Aruch

So this is a good resource for a number of reasons:  (1) it contains all the halachah of Rabbinic Judaism and (2) the author, Shlomo Ganzfried (1804-1896), was careful to note the SOURCES of the halacha.  So he refers to Written Torah and Rabbinic sources.  Very, very, useful.

You can find it here.

Just click the link and scroll down to where it says "Hebrew and English" translation.  Oh, the other helpful thing to know is how Shulchan Aruch is structured.  So check out that wikipedia link for a brief overview.

Oh, one more thing.  I've recommended that we all start with the topic of Shabbat and then eventually move on to other topics (e.g. Tzitzit, Tefillin, etc).  Shabbat is the foundation for everything so it seems like a good place to start as we look for principles for a Messianic halachah.

In Shulchan Aruch, you'll find that there's four major sections/volumes.  Shabbat is covered in volume Orach Chayim, chapters 72-96 I believe.

Enjoy!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nachmanides Disagrees with Gene Shlomovich About Rabbinic Authority

So Boaz, Gene, UMJC, many others all repeat the mantra "The Rabbis hold the authority of Moses" (paraphrase).  But is this really what Yeshua meant in Matthew 23?

To answer this question, let's first consider how Yeshua approached halacha.  We'll look at Shabbat as an example:


What Does it Mean that Paul was a Pharisee?

Here's a little fun fact for you.  Did you know that the defining quality of a Pharisee was that he believed in the twofold nature of Torah (i.e. the Written Torah and the Oral Torah)?

Check this out:


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Boaz Michael: A Misuse of Rhetoric

[UPDATE:  I've changed the title of this post in order to be gentler toward Boaz]

Boaz wrote recently:

"Instead of attacking Christianity, Messianic Gentiles would do well to focus on what is good about Christianity. This is necessary for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that Messianic Gentiles, as stated above, are Christians. Just as important, though, is the impact this positive attitude will have on any effort to bring Christians to recognize the Jewish roots of their faith," (attributed to Boaz Michael from an early manuscript of the forthcoming book "Tent of David", pgs 50-51).

I'd like to talk a little about deception and persuasion and then come back to this statement by Boaz Michael.


How to Remember Ambassador Stevens

For those who don't know, Ambassador Stevens, our ambassador to Libya, was killed yesterday by Libyan extremists.  You can read about it here.  Also killed were three staff members.

This is a sad day.  Ambassador Jeffries said it best to a friend of mine recently as they were leaving a function at the State Department.  Speaking of the brave men and women who serve at the State Department, he said, "These are the people that are working each day to keep us from going to war."

I was angry when I heard about what happened to Ambassador Stevens.  I wanted revenge.  But then I remember why he was over there.  He was not only doing his duty to protect Americans but he was doing something that honors G-d.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God," (Matthew 5:9)

Keep the family members of the fallen in your prayers today.  Those families paid a terrible price so that we can all enjoy some measure of peace.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Mysterious Number 40



Rabbinic Abuses of Casuistry: How Rabbinic Halacha Negates Written Torah and its Spirit


Rabbinic Abuses of Casuistry:  How Rabbinic Halacha Negates Written Torah and its Spirit

"Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mark 7:7).


"Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 'The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long'" (Matthew 23:1-5).

What's the Deal, Mark?


In Mark 7:3-4, the author (Mark) seems to call into question the tradition of kashering utensils:

Mark 7:3-4
"(For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches."

And yet this tradition is deemed by Scripture to have originated from Moses:

Numbers 31:21-24
21 Then Eleazar the priest said to the soldiers who had gone into battle, “This is what is required by the law that the Lord gave Moses: 22 Gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, lead 23 and anything else that can withstand fire must be put through the fire, and then it will be clean. But it must also be purified with the water of cleansing. And whatever cannot withstand fire must be put through that water. 24 On the seventh day wash your clothes and you will be clean. Then you may come into the camp.”

Question 39:

How do we reconcile Mark's apparent words with Torah?  Is this a variant or is Mark merely trying to give some halachic background without necessarily making a value judgment?  



Share Your Story

Do you have a testimony to share that might be informative and/or encouraging to other One Law Messianic Believers in Yeshua?  I'm going to create a section of this blog for people to share their experiences.  If this interests you then I'd like to suggest the following format:

-1 to 5 pages in length

-Refrain from using people's real names in order to preserve privacy

-Include sections about (1) how you identify/practice; (2) areas where you're confused and looking for guidance; (3) thoughts about how Messianic Judaism can improve; (4) what types of obstacles have you encountered and how have you dealt with those obstacles.

And, yes, I'll try to draft something as well.

Blessings to you all,

Peter

Friday, September 7, 2012

Isaiah 58 and Not Speaking Your Own Words: Question 38


Courtesy of JD Hancock
There's some real puzzlers in this passage:

Isaiah 58
13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Question:

What does it mean "not doing thine own ways", "nor finding thine own pleasure", "nor speaking thine own words"?  How do we tell the difference between delighting in Shabbat and delighting in our own pleasures?  And what possible pragmatic application might we find in the enigmatic instruction to not speak with our own words?  





Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Shema: Question 37

The Shema connects the following:

(1) affirming the oneness of G-d;

(2) fearing G-d;

(3) keeping His mitzvot;

(4) loving G-d;

(5) teaching the Torah to one's children;

(6) making/using tefillin;

(7) making/using mezuzot

Question 37:  What does the oneness of G-d have to do with mitzvot, tefillin, mezuzot, etc?

photo credit: alvy via photo pin cc

Examples of Halacha in the New Testament


The following excerpts from Jewish Law From Jesus to the Mishnah by E. P. Sanders show the Biblical grounding for each of the primary mitzvot and then shows how these mitzvot were treated by Yeshua (N.B. the author is non-Messianic).  This is not intended to be comprehensive--it's just to give you an idea of how the New Testament can be a source for halacha:


Principles vs. Rules


Cajun wrote:

Peter, are you wanting the meforshim [commentary on Messianic halachic principles] to be limited to the New Covenant or may they range the Scriptures?

My response:


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Statement of Principles: YOU CAN HELP!


Approaches to Messianic Halacha: An Introduction (Part III) [UPDATED]


Do Jews Have the Right to the Land of Israel? Question 36

Stuart Dauermann posed an interesting question at his blog The Messianic Agenda.  Do the Jewish people have the right to return to Israel after so long?

I think he misses something: there can only be two types of justification:  a secular justification and a religious justification.

I believe that all rights belong to G-d.  We only have the "right" to follow His will.  This is the religious justification for a return to the Land.

The secular justification isn't very persuasive.  Many, many years ago I attended a Zola Levitt lecture (my parents have always been huge fans).  And Zola alluded to some of the secular justifications:  (1) that Israelis have a historical claim (which is certainly true); (2) that Israelis took the Land through war, which is how most European countries and America originally laid claim to their land.  He might've cited some other rationales but this was so long ago that I don't remember.

The problem with the secular justifications are that they leave you feeling sorry for those who were living in Israel before 1948 and who had to leave.

But if we look at the "right" of return as G-d's right then consideration for the feelings of those dwellers in Israel prior to 1948 is less of a problem.  G-d's will trumps anyone else's will.  He is the sole rights-holder.

Question 36:

Do you have a more persuasive secular justification for Jewish right to the Land of Israel?






photo credit: marsmet541 via photo pin cc

My Wife and I were Playing Bible Trivia and...Question: 35



One of the questions in the Bible Trivia game referred to Zechariah 13:9... I don't remember the question but this passage has always baffled me.  It says:

And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.

Question 35:

Does anyone understand this prophecy?  

Leadership Qualifications (Cajun)

Here's a great, Biblically-based list of leadership qualifications (thanks, Cajun!):

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gene Occasionally Gets it Right : )


Recently, I posed the question "To codify or not to codify" and Gene suggested creating a "Statement of Principles for Messianic Halacha" (I'm paraphrasing quite a lot).

I think this is a good idea for several reasons.  As I explained earlier, halacha should be straightforward and understandable.  Rabbinic Judaism created an oxymoronic written, oral-Torah that has many weaknesses (e.g. it's impractical, confusing, inefficient, un-democratic, convoluted, esoteric, etc).  The original Oral Tradition was flexible, democratic, approachable, straightforward, and understandable even to the layperson.  So we need to restore the oral tradition--no big deal.

How do we do that?  Scientific method:

(1) observe all possible sources for halacha (e.g. Written Torah, New Testament, secondary sources such as Talmud, Codes, Commentaries, etc, etc);

(2) hypothesize as to general principles (which in my opinion should be topically categorized according to the Mishna's system of classification but more on that later);

(3) verify the principles (this is where the Kol Echad Initiative might be handy);

(4) systematize an integrated body of halachic principles---no biggie

In short, our goal with regard to halacha should be to devise a straightforward, understandable, yet comprehensive guide to Messianic halacha in order to bring stability, autonomy, and cohesiveness to the One-Law Messianic movement.

Our next step then will be to discuss how to categorize halacha so that people can start providing input as to the New Covenant Principles for Messianic Halacha.  I'll post something soon about this so that we can all get to work.  This will have to be a communal effort because the scope of it exceeds the intellectual reach of any single man (unless one of you out there is the next Maimonides).  : )

Shalom

Monday, September 3, 2012

Messianic Halacha: To Codify or Not to Codify...Question 34


It seems to me that the Torah communicated precisely that which could be communicated in writing and nothing more, implying that anything left indefinite was meant to be supplied with a flexible tradition.  However, my thinking is at odds with Rabbinic Judaism...sort of.  Rabbinic Judaism admits that the Oral Torah, ideally, should've been left alone as a pluralistic, oral tradition.  And they'd probably agree with me that, in addition to being an oxymoron, the Talmud has the following WEAKNESSES:

(1) impractical (as evidenced by the presence of law codes such as Shulchan Aruch and Mishneh Torah), an idea best expressed in Ecc 12:12, "My son, beware of anything beyond these.  Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh";

(2) confusing (as evidenced the genre of endless Talmudic commentaries);

(3) inefficient (as evidenced by the historical fact that the original oral tradition was transmitted orally);

(4) un-democratic (as opposed to the oral transmission method which resulted in each layman being a master of the oral tradition).

But they'd also say that it was necessary to codify due to the overriding threat that all tradition could've been lost post-70 C.E.  And they say that since it has been established then it carries the force of law (albeit, a law that is open to interpretation).

Are there any STRENGTHS to having a codified oral tradition?  Well, I wouldn't call it a strength but there is a POSSIBILITY that the codification ensured that the oral tradition was not lost.  I'm not sure I agree but this is the common understanding.  Although, it seems to me that the advantages of a written oral tradition would've been outweighed by the confusion brought on by eliminating the back and forth, give and take, question and answering process of the oral tradition.

However, allowing Messianic halacha to remain un-codified would be a threat.  It would mean implicitly allowing the non-Messianic community to have authority over the Messianic educational sphere.

So let's open it up for discussion:

QUESTION 34:

What are the pros/cons of codifying Messianic halacha?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Baptists Celebrate Shabbat Now?????????

So my wife just handed me a brochure from Grove Avenue Baptist church and said, "Look, they celebrate Shabbat."

So I looked and on the main brochure that they handed out earlier today it read...


Handy Article on the Structure of Jewish Law

This is a good introduction to the Jewish legal system if anyone is interested [I'm not affiliated]:

Link to Article