Saturday, April 7, 2018

Ponderings of the Perkei Avot 1:6

RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
Chapter 1:6
By: Yehudah ben Shomeyr

1:6. Joshua the son of Perachia and Nitai the Arbelite received from them. Joshua the son of Perachia would say: Assume for yourself a master, acquire for yourself a friend, and judge every man to the side of merit.
Verse six deals with attaching yourself to a Rabbi. Even Yeshua the Messiah sat under Rabbi’s.

The life of Messiah from the “manger” to the start of his public ministry at the wedding at Canaan where he preformed His first recorded miracle, turning the water into wine, is a mysterious one. The silence of Canonical Scripture has spawned many legends and Apocryphal documents, most of which were written not by Netzari Jews, but Gentile Roman-esque, anti-Torah, Constantinian “Christians” and it clearly shows in their writings. Much of what they say contradicts the Brit Chadasha itself, such as young Jesus getting even with the neighborhood boys by turning them into things, making clay animals come to life etc (The First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ: XV, XVII). However, there are some clues into Yeshua’s life from the Manger to the wedding as recorded in what is called the Archko Volume which is the archeological writings of the Sanhedrin and the Talmud. Some of these documents are interviews and investigations commanded by the Sanhedrin to find out more about who this Yeshua of Nazareth was. The Shepard’s who were the first to receive the proclamation of Messiah’s birth were interviewed; Mary and Joseph were interviewed by the famous Gamliel, the teacher of Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul). These are very intriguing documents. Although I read these documents with some trepidation as more than likely they have been altered from the original so as to attempt to shed and unfavorable view of Yeshua and his family in an attempt to discredit Him as any sort of Messiah.

Many wonder about Yeshua’s education, as most all Jewish boys went to a Yeshiva or had a personal tutor in the ways of Torah. All we see of Yeshua’s child hood is when during Pesach (Passover) he ditches his parents and is found in the Temple in weighty conversation regarding the Torah with the Rabbi’s and Scribes. This occurred when he was 12 years of age.

Luke 2:41-52 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

This is considered Yeshua’s Bar Mitzvah, before Bar Mitzvah’s as we know it today were invented. Rabbi Jeffery Salkin said:

“None of the great Jews of antiquity – Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Rabbi Akiva – had Bar Mitzvah ceremonies. As a status, Bar Mitzvah comes into the Jewish world in the second century of the Common Era.”

According to Gamaliel’s interview with Mary and Joseph regarding Yeshua’s education said;

“His parents told me of an old man who lived on the road to Bethany who had once been a priest, a man of great learning, and well skilled in the laws and prophets, and Jesus was often there with him reading the law (Torah) and the prophets together; that his name was Massalian…” –The Archko Volume pg.87

Massalian is recorded as saying of Yeshua’s character:

“…He was a young man of the finest thought and feeling he ever saw in his life; that he was the most apt in his answers and solutions of difficult problems of any man of his age he had ever seen; that his answers seem to give more universal satisfaction – so much so that the oldest philosopher would not dispute with him, or in any manner join issue with him, or ask a second time” – The Archko Volume pg 87

Regarding Yeshua’s teaching Massalian said:

“His mother said that he had always known how to read the law (Torah); that his mind seemed to master it from the beginning; and into the laws of nature and the relation of man to his fellow in his teachings of talks, he gives deeper insight, inspiring mutual love and strengthening the common trust of society.” – The Archko Volume pg 87-88

“Through Jesus, in his teachings or talks (his words sound so much like the teachings of Hillel or Shammai that I must call it teaching, through he has no special scholars),” - The Archko Volume pg.89

This backs up the fact that Yeshua was skilled and proficient in the two major schools of thought in His day, the school of Hillel, which he sided more with and the school of Shammai, and this shows in the records of the Brit Chadasha (New Testament). It may interest one to know that the school of Hillel was actually considered liberal and the school of Shammai was considered conservative.

Further in the document it says:

“Massalian is a man of very deep thought and profound judgment. All his life he has made the Scripture his study. He, too, is a good judge of human nature, and is satisfied that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Christ (Messiah). He said that Jesus seemed to understand the prophecy by intuition.”

I don’t think we can know for absolute certainty if these testimonies are absolutely true, but they are fascinating to contemplate nonetheless and as always I weigh what is said against the Torah and the documents of the Brit Chadasha and if what is found in extra biblical sources back up what is in the “Canonical Scriptures” I tend to accept what is said therein. 

We also can note that Yeshua went to synagogue as an adult and sat under a local Rabbi and even participated in the service as recorded in Luke chapter 4.

 (Luke 4:16-19) “And Yeshua entered the Synagogue, as He was accustomed, on the day of the Sabbath, and the scroll of Yeshayahu the prophet was given to Him, and He stood up to read and Yeshua opened the scroll and found the place where it was written, ‘the Spirit of YHWH is upon Me, and because of this He has anointed Me to proclaim to the poor and has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted and to proclaim to the captives forgiveness, and to the blind, sight, and to send away the brokenhearted with forgiveness, and to proclaim the Acceptable Year of YHWH. And Yeshua rolled up the scroll and gave it to the shammash and went and sat down. And all of those in the synagogue had their eyes fixed on Him.”

If Yeshua sought out a Rabbi, I want to too.

The commentary of the Perkei Avot texts says that doing so helps insures correct transmission of pure teachings and traditions and thus avoiding error.

-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr