Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Get Back to the First Century: Tradition!

Here is a piece worth quoting extensively regarding the adherence of Jewish Tradition by Rabbi Daniel Harris:

“Tradition is a word that either sparks wonderful memories of days gone by and present, or thoughts of dread and legalism.  Simply put, there are good traditions and bad traditions. We NEED tradition. Tradition gives us focus and a means to engage each other as a kehillah (community) in the pursuit of ADONAI’s mitzvoth (Commandments). I would like to take a moment to address the topic of tradition from a Torah standpoint.

All my life, I’ve seen people either totally blinded and in bondage by the traditions of men, or totally scared off by any notion of tradition whatsoever; I call them, “Traditia-phobes”. These are often the same as or like what I call, “Paga-phobes”. These are they who see paganism in every, single thing around them; they become “paga-phobic.” I see a lot of these people especially in the messianic movement and even in the more Torah observant ones.

Traditia-phobes are often those who have come out of Christianity in pursuit of Adonai’s Torah and have seen firsthand the deceitful and destructive nature of the anti-Torah, paganistic traditions of men. Therefore, when they are confronted with the notion of even Torah based or Jewish traditions, they become very paranoid and leery about them. They will often have nothing to do with traditions whatsoever and their Torah observance often becomes monotone and void of any….fun or joy. And this often turns any friends and family off from following Adonai and His Torah themselves.

GOD`s commands us to be joyful in our service to Him and even each other. Tradition helps to facilitate that. Quite frankly, without tradition, it would be impossible to carry out a lot of ADONAI’s mitzvoth (commandments)!  There are many examples I could cite but here’s just a few:  When Adonai told the artisans how to make the priestly garments and vessels, He didn’t explicitly tell them how, but said, “They are for beauty and honor..”, so He obviously left it up to the imagination of the craftsmen how they would beautify them and all the other vessels of the Mishkan (Temple) as well. When God commanded our ancestors to put tzitziot on the kan’fey big’deyhem -four corners of their garments, He didn’t say HOW there were to do this, so it’s obvious that there was a traditional way that they all adopted to unify themselves in the fulfilling of this mitzvah. The same goes for the mitzvah of mezuzah and tefillin. ADONAI didn’t say explicitly how to carry this out, but there obviously was a traditional way they all did it. Archaeologists recently found samples of tefillin in the caves of Qumran which predate Yeshua and they were almost exactly like they’re made today!  I can hear Tevye singing, “TRADITION!”

It’s quite obvious that even Yeshua HaMashiach was a traditional Jew. He unabashedly observed many man made, Torah-based traditions that didn’t blatantly contradict Torah. He wore traditional tzitzit and tefillin. He went to synagogue services. The synagogue at Kefar Nachum (i.e. “Capernium”) even had a Star of David engraved on it, so He obviously didn’t object to the Star of David as do some believers today. He read from the prescribed Torah and Haftarah portions. He recited traditional, prescribed b’rachot (blessings) over food and drink. He practiced traditional rites of the Passover seyder that aren’t commanded in Torah. He observed the tradition of Chanukah, which isn’t commanded in Torah and many, many more such things He and His tal’midim (disciples) did.

Rav Shaul (aka, “Apostle Paul”) was also a very traditional Jew. He boasted in the fact that he was a Parush- a Pharisee even after his “conversion” to Netzari Judaism. In Acts 2: 20, 21, Shaul & Silas were accused of “teaching customs (traditions) which weren’t lawful for them to receive being Romans…” So these pagan Romans were complaining that Shaul and Silas were teaching Jewish traditions ! In 2Thes. 2:15, he said, “Therefore brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”

There’s no reason to be fearful of tradition. When we filter everything through the LORD’s Torah, everything that is false and contrary to it becomes readily apparent. When you know the Truth, you can spot the fake right away. Any tradition that enables me to carry out the mitzvoth in a beautiful and sound way, corporately  with the kehillah (congregation, assembly) of ADOANI, then I am “obligated” to do so; for such was the Way of my Messiah, Yeshua and His tal’midim as well. As David HaMelech (King David) said, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together…in unity!”  Ameyn v’ameyn.”

I like what The Voice of God devotional book says regarding Tradition:

“Yeshua also spoke of dead Judaism that embraced certain dead traditions. Our Jewish culture is rich with customs and practices that were first developed to bring us closer to God. It is good to practice traditions that are alive and meaningful. But to adhere to tradition when your heart is far from God, results in an empty formality with which God is not pleased. This is the hypocrisy of which Yeshua spoke.

Yeshua was not opposed to tradition. It was as much a part of the Judaism of his day as it is a part of our own today. However, he could not sanction the hypocrisy he saw among some of the Perushim (Pharisees) who used traditions as technicalities to circumvent the true meaning of God's commandments. Tradition should strengthen our relationship with Torah, not misdirect it.”

Here is some insight regarding Yeshua and Rabbinic Tradition customs among His Talmidim (Disciples), more of which in the realm of doctrine we will cover later.

Great Rabbis to outsiders sometimes looks like holy mobsters. What I mean by this is that they seem to always have an entourage of talmidim (disciples) who come off as bodyguards and their privacy is protected moreso than the presidents! The Rebbe’s only see a select few and even that by appointment. What’s up with that? Many times people who want a private audience with the Rebbe sometimes get one of his top talmidim instead.

You see its tradition for a Rabbi to create a tight knit family out of his talmidim and in layers at that. Same as we have intimate family, immediate family and extended family. Rebbe Yeshua too mirrored this in what Christians call the inner circle consisting of Kefa (Peter), Ya’akov (James) and Yochannon (John), then the rest of the 9, then the 120. Yes, Rebbe Yeshua had more than just 12 Talmidim he had at least 120 (Acts 1:15).

However, Rebbe Yeshua went against tradition, in the fact that He picked His Talmidim, for traditionally the talmid seeks out and attaches himself to a Rabbi. In addition, he had women who were in his group that held a quasi-talmid status.

The loyalty of the talmidim to the Rebbe is just as strong as child to parent and on rare occasions eclipses that.

Some say Messiah Yeshua contradicted Himself in regards to honoring ones parents.

Luke 14:26 “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

Is Messiah speaking out of both sides of His mouth? No, of course not. Here we are dealing with the barriers of cultural language. In this instance, you are dealing with a Hebrew idiom of preference. The word “hate” in this passage carries the idea of being loved less or not preferred. Just as in the passages in the Torah where it says the LORD loved Jacob but hated Esau, or that Jacob loved Rachel and hated Leah. It does not mean that these people were hated, as we in the western world would think of hate, it means they were not loved as much as the other was. God preferred Jacob over Esau, Jacob loved Rachel more than he loved Leah. Here, Yeshua is saying if you do not prefer Him over your parents, you are not worthy to be a talmid.

Just as another passage says and helps clear up:
Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
 38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
A Rabbi – talmid relationship was seen as a father and son relationship and a Rabbi was honored as such and given the same honor as an earthly father. We see this thinking carried out further when we consider the two schools of Jewish thought; they are called, “Houses” carrying on further the idea of a family unit. The House of Hillel and the House of Shammi. No, with Messiah, we have the “House of Yeshua.”

“His teacher takes precedence, because his father brought him into this world, whereas his teacher, who instructed him in wisdom, brings him into the future world. But if his father is a Sage, his father takes precedence. If his father and his teacher were [each] carrying a burden, he must [first] assist his teacher to lay it down and then assist his father.” – m.Bava Metzia 2:11

We see here Yeshua was only carrying on the cultural and traditional norm and expectations in the realm of Judaism.
Luke 18:29-30 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
Nor was Yeshua denying a man the last great mitzvah (good deed) to his parents, the mitzvah (good deed) of burial:
Luke 9:59-60 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
What is meant by this passage is that the man’s father was still living and he was asking to allow him to remain with him until he died, after which he would follow him as a talmid.

Yeshua clearly seen His Talmidim and Torah Keeping Israel as His family:
Matthew 12:46-50 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? And who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Rebbe Yeshua almost always had His Talmidim with him in public and they surrounded Him, as in the instance when the crowd pressed and the woman with the issue of blood snuck through and touched Him. They went with Him when He went to visit someone. Once He was invited by a prestigious religious person; when a woman came to anoint Rebbe Yeshua with the alabaster, the text shows His Talmidim were there. At times, they carried out “roadie style duties,” such as preparing for Passover, setting up the “stage” if you will, and for Rebbe Yeshua, in some instances, the boat, for when He spoke to the crowds publicly. They maintained order and crowd control as in the feeding of the 5,000. They went on private retreats together, the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) tells us of them sailing across the lake to get away from the crowds such as during Passover, and going to a private area (Garden of Gethsemane) to rest and pray.
Many knock on the Talmidim (Disciples) for blowing off the children, but actually they were doing what Talmidim usually do; crowd control and who has access to the Rebbe. Many more examples can be seen where the Talmidim had control over who bothered the Rebbe Yeshua, but let us look at the passage pertaining to the children.
Matt. 19:13-15 “Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put [his] hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Yeshua said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid [his] hands on them, and departed thence.”

Rebbe Yeshua gave the traditional Jewish Barachah (blessing) over the boys and girls respectively that is given to children on Shabbat.

I hope a peek into Rabbinic Dynasties helped shed a little more light on the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) and the activities and actions of the Talmidim (Disciples).