Monday, April 2, 2018

Ponderings of the Perkei Avot 1:1

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot

Chapter 1:1
By: Yehudah ben Shomeyr

It is traditional to read through the Perkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) from Passover all summer long. It is like a book of Proverbs written by the Rabbi’s and Sages. This is my commentary on this great rabbinical work and I show how its teachings correlate with many concepts found in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament), as you read you will see many things that Yeshua the Messiah and Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) taught. It is my prayer that you grow and are edified by this work.

“Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua gave it over to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets gave it over to the Men of the Great Assembly. They [the Men of the Great Assembly] would always say these three things: Be cautious in judgment. Establish many pupils. And make a safety fence around the Torah.”

Who were these “Elders”?

Numbers 11:16-17 And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.

You see the Sanhedrin, or as the text say [the Men of the Great Assembly] who some of which were the prominent Rabbi’s and Sages of the Academies of the day and some were actually apart of the Sanhedrin. This was even so in Yeshua’s day, and these men of authority can trace their authority and linage all the way back to Moshe (Moses) and the leaders he appointed. Since the destruction of the Temple the chain has been broken, but recently in Israel a Sanhedrin as one again arose. Yeshua’s Sheliachim (Apostles) made up a “Messianic Nazarene” Sanhedrin if you will as we see in Acts 15 and such. And as the Natsarim arise in this modern day we too need to unite the local and national Beyt Dins (Houses of Judgement) and come up with a Natsarim Sanhedrin. Maybe this won't happen until Messiah returns, who knows, but I feel strongly that we need to work toward this. After all, the Sanhedrin of Messiah’s time had their differences, so there is no reason why today’s Natsarim movement cannot have a fully functioning Natsarim Sanhedrin. 
Let us now look to the last part of this passage:

“They [the Men of the Great Assembly] would always say these three things: Be cautious in judgment. Establish many pupils. And make a safety fence around the Torah.”

One of but many reasons we have a Beyt Din and should have a Nazarene Sanhedrin is because two heads are better than one. Not one soul person should make the halachic decisions for all of Nazarene Judaism, but a representative from all arenas need to come together and be heard so we can hammer out a balanced way for everyone. That is what it means to be cautious in judgment. Second as Yeshua Himself commanded, make many talmidim (disciples)

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Third is to make a fence around the Torah. Yes, traditions can be good and useful. You may tell your child not to touch the stove, you have made a commandment, but what is stopping him besides your words to help make sure he doesn’t touch a hot stove? If he is a little pyromaniac, intrigued by fire, you may need to but up a baby gate to your kitchen, in other words a fence to keep him away from the stove. This is no different in our lives when we install software to help us keep away from naughty websites; it is a type of fence. Or if you don’t want Rabbits to eat your prize flowers or you don’t want little feet to trample them on the way in or out the door you erect a fence to protect those flowers. Nothing wrong with fences, just (as the Sages have said) don’t make a fence so high that if it were to fall you would crush what you were trying to protect. We err when we attempt to treat the fence with the same authority as a Torah Command.

Shalom, --Yehudah ben Shomeyr