Sunday, June 30, 2013

Do Rabbinic Traditions Violate the Prohibition on "Adding" to the Torah? [A Refutation of Anti-Rabbinism]

In Matthew 23, Yeshua commands His disciples to obey the Scribes and the Pharisees (who sit in Moses' Seat).  So, for example, those Scribes and Pharisees taught how to make phylacteries.  Now, nowhere in Scripture does it command us on HOW to construct phylacteries.  This is something purely from Tradition.

Now...check this out:

We're prohibited from adding to the Torah:

"Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you," (Deut. 4:2)

Thus, it follows that Yeshua considered certain rabbinic traditions (e.g. phylacteries) to be ACTUAL TORAH (and NOT an invalid addition to Torah).

I say this for those anti-Rabbinic Messianics who reject everything rabbinic on the basis that it is COMPLETELY composed of invalid additions to Torah.  

Some readers are probably gasping and saying "But that completely contradicts your stance on Rabbinic authority!"

In reality, there's no contradiction in the following propositions:

(1) my position:  the Rabbis have secondary or "presumptive" authority but the Scripture has primary and final authority;

(2) also my position:  some Rabbinic rules, as Yeshua maintained, do not add to Torah but rather consist of the full authority of Torah (i.e. the same authority as Moses).

But, hey, if you have a different point of view then argue your point with me.  I'm open to anything reasonable! 


  1. I think I agree with you, maybe I am even more radical on the pro-rabbinic.

    But there is one question I'd like to pose: Scripture has primary and final authority over rabbinic, BUT who says what Scripture says? I mean there are, of course, some plain passages, but there are those who are not so clear, be it because of some text complexities, or even because of some rabbinic tradition that goes against the most simple and obvious sense of the text.

    This is somtheing to be thought about... kind of an Hermeneutical question!

    1. That's an interesting question. I have a high opinion of Rabbinic hermeneutics. But I've learned a lot from Christian scholars too. So my position is to be open to the truth no matter who speaks it.

  2. Oh, and another thing:

    You probably know, but tefilin, the way they are made and stuff are considered Torah law: this is the actual oral Law. Most people think Oral Law = all traditions that come from the sages, but this is not so. Oral Law is only that is recognized as from Moshe, and is usually a clarification of what the text says: for example: the techelet, the way to make tefilin, the real meaning of "the kid in it's mother milk", and so on - not that I agree with this, I am just explaining.
    Of course the is also rabbinic authority, and this is sometimes even more important than oral law: the rabbis have the authority to interpret the Law and add stuff - but this must be understood correctly too: The sin would be to say a rabbinic law is actually a Torah Law. Just enacting things to be observed does not violate the comand not to add! This is, for example, what Maimonides would defend when he said that it is not right to say that not eating birds with milk is a deoraita mitzvah, because this would mean to add stuff.

    There are a lot of other differences - besides the origin - between rabinic and torah mitzvah, mostly in practice.


    1. Here's the thing...I don't believe anyone knows which traditions go back to Moses. And it doesn't really matter. We should just assume that G-d didn't allow Oral Torah to be lost and destroyed.

  3. Okay first let me say how much I love this blog!:) I'm 44 1/2 years old but feel so much like a 1st grader in this walk!This blog always helps me to see the flip side of certain scriptures & view it from a whole new perspective as this article just did! I've read Matt 23 before but not in this light. Ty! So now, the only question I would have is who is it that is to fill the shoes of head leaders as the within our messianic world as in Matt 23:2??? It would be so nice to have a messianic beit din!

    1. RE: "the only question I would have is who is it that is to fill the shoes of head leaders as the within our messianic world as in Matt 23:2???"

      I just hope that we'll have leaders wise enough to preserve Jewish identity while at the same time helping to build strong identities in non-Jews as full members of Israel. To paraphrase the Psalm, it would be so good and pleasant for Jewish and non-Jewish brethren to dwell together in unity!

      May G-d bring it to pass swiftly in our time!!!