Friday, August 31, 2012

The UMJC Says that the Sages of the Talmud Hold Divine Authority

Sounds ridiculous, right?  But it's true and I'll prove it.

The UMJC is affiliated with an organization called the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council.  A former president of the UMJC is among those linked to the MJRC as well as a chairman of the UMJC Theological committee (see here).

Why is this a problem?  Because this group ascribes Divine authority to the Sages of the Talmud.  How do they do this?  Allow me to demonstrate.

On the MJRC website (see here), they say the following:

"Rabbinic tradition holds that Hashem has given substantial authority over the practical outworking of the Torah in Israel's corporate life to the people and its recognized leaders. This principle is symbolized most powerfully by the ancient role of the Rabbinic court in announcing the New Moon and in intercalating the calendar. The pattern of holy days was established in the Torah, but the determination of those days rested in the hands of the people of Israel and its leaders.

This principle finds support in Yeshua's teaching in Matthew 23:3 which urges obedience to the decisions of the Pharisaic Torah-teachers. This verse echoes Deuteronomy 17:10, the key text in Rabbinic tradition undergirding the authority of Israel's sages."

What's the harm you ask in ascribing Sanhedrinic (e.g. "Moses' seat") legislative authority and also Levitical Supreme Court (e.g. Deut. 17:10) judicial authority to the Sages of the Talmud?  Because they don't have this level of Divine authority.  Allow me to explain.

The prerequisite for Supreme Court Judicial Authority (Deut 17) is that the judicial body be located in Jerusalem at "the place the Lord your God will choose" (i.e. the Temple).  The prerequisite for the Sanhedrin's authority was twofold:  (1) the elders had to be duly-elected representatives of Israel meeting in Jerusalem at the Temple; (2) they had to CURRENTLY have the Ruach upon them (see Numbers 11 for both criteria).  These prerequisites are not fulfilled by the text of the Talmud (which incidentally was compiled outside of Jerusalem).  Therefore, the Sages of the Talmud CANNOT carry Divine authority.

When you affiliate with a leadership council, you automatically lend your authority to that group.  It is a way of communicating that you agree with their stance because it is a public affiliation.  You of course have the opportunity to negate this effect by clarifying your own position.  But if you do not then you are taken to have adopted the position of the leadership to which you publicly affiliate.

Therefore, I recommend that UMJC repudiate this false doctrine that ascribes Divine authority to the Sages of the Talmud.




  1. The folly in all this, is, that at the same time they argue for a rabbinical divine authority halacha, they devised their own halacha by rejecting the rabbinical ruling that one is Jewish if his/her mother is Jewish. Since many of their leaders are not born to Jewish mothers but have Jewish fathers, they conveniently jettison the "divine ruling" of the Rabbis....Oh, well......

    1. You're so right, Dan. G-d bless you, brother.

  2. If you want to believe, as much of Christianity and Islam does, that G-d has virtually abandoned the Jewish people by leaving them to fend for themselves without authoritative leaders and teachers because "they rejected Jesus", that the Jewish people corrupted the interpretation of scriptures and have lost their right to interpret them, that G-d has removed his Spirit from my people, it's your prerogative. You would not be the first or the last.

    As for me, I reject such thinking as a vestige of Supersessionism. I side with my people and with the leadership of Messianic Jewish organizations to say that G-d did not "reject the people he foreknew", that His Spirit still rests on the people of Israel, that His Spirit has guided the hands of various Sages and teachers of Israel, and that G-d has indeed vested Jewish leaders with Divine Authority to make decisions on behalf of the Jewish people throughout our long and tortured history. I believe Apostle Paul, the obedient Jews who submitted to Jewish authorities of his day, who said:

    "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which G-d has established. The authorities that exist have been established by G-d." (Romans 13:1)

    1. Gene,

      You said something false and I'm going to correct you in love. You are claiming that Romans 13:1 means that the Talmudic Sages have (1) supreme legislative (Sanhedric) authority; (2) supreme judicial authority (Levitical)? The Talmud is not the duly-authorized, Ruach-empowered, legislative institution sitting in Jerusalem nor is it the Levitical priesthood sitting in Jerusalem. To say otherwise is to offend Torah AND the Ruach simultaneously. Tread carefully sir. I would urge you to condemn such a stance--and, yes, I do appreciate the fact that this will require you to speak out against your own denomination.

    2. Peter, you are misinformed. One is not required to have the Temple in place or be in Land of Israel to have authoritative judges in Israel. The institution of "Sanhedrin" (the "Great") was established during the Second Temple period. There are also lesser sanhedrins and beit dins. Jewish people may establish judges in their communities for themselves no matter where they are. The Jewish people have accepted the authority of the sages to provide the base for halachic rulings.

      Also, the exact nature of leadership of Israel is fluid, and judges have authority as long as they fulfill the function of upholding justice and interpreting the Torah for the people. That's why Yeshua could say that "the teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat so you must obey them and do everything they tell you.", even though Pharisees were a relatively recent arrivals on the Jewish scene. Notice that Yeshua didn't specifically name "priests and Levites".

      Also, as I wrote below, G-d did not take away His Spirit from his people nor more than He Himself left them.

    3. Gene,

      It is you who are misinformed. The UMJC and MJRC are attributing no meager authority to the Talmudic Sages--they are attributing THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE JUDICIAL AND LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY given in Torah. And if you belong to UMJC then you are bound by Torah to correct them in love.

    4. "And if you belong to UMJC then you are bound by Torah to correct them in love."

      Though I do not belong (it's a congregational and not an individual membership organization) to the UMJC or the MJRC (but I do "belong" to my Jewish people in charge) , I would only praise them if, as Jews, they moved more in the direction of granting more authority to the interpretations of the Jewish Sages, teachers and leaders when it came to matters of halacha/Jewish practice.

    5. Why do I get the feeling that you would agree with me if there were not other influences affecting you?

      Brother, we both want to see a Messianic halacha reemerge. I know that you feel this in your heart. You could be such an asset to the One Law Messianic Community.

    6. "You could be such an asset to the One Law Messianic Community. "

      Peter, that's what I seek to be, my friend, among other things.

  3. And who appointed the MJRC as a governing authority with the right to revers rabbinc halacha that is there for generations?

    In the UMJC the right hand tells the left hand "I never knew you...."

    1. MJRC specifically does not claim authority to interpret halacha nor do they impose it on anyone. They only offer practical suggestions tailored for the largely assimilated and secularized Jewry of the Messianic Jewish movement, and I quote:

      "The MJRC decided that it should not formulate standards of observance that aim to be an authoritative interpretation of the Torah's contemporary requirements, but instead should articulate realistic and practical guidelines that point our communities toward the way of covenant faithfulness."

      UMJC doesn't not claim any such authority either. They are merely a congregational organization that acts as an umbrella for varies congregations that span the range of practices.

  4. ""The MJRC decided that it should not formulate standards of observance that aim to be an authoritative interpretation of the Torah's contemporary requirements, but instead should articulate realistic and practical guidelines that point our communities toward the way of covenant faithfulness."


    Who are you trying to fool? Most of the MJRC are also UMJC members. As of now they are the authoritative body of MJ, all you need to do is to see their influence on mainstream MJ, you can't be that blind.

    Both of these groups speak from both side of their collective mouth, or they really have no idea what they are teaching.

    Not only they reject the halacha of the sages as far of who is a Jew, but half of their members are shaving the corner of their beards....A joke.....