Thursday, January 8, 2015

What to Do When You Realize They Don't Agree With You About Everything

By freak coincidence, some Israelis released a very polarizing video about the Oral Torah recently.  It says that the "Oral Torah", which is a term (maybe not the best term) for what ended up being the primary resource for all the modern Jewish traditions, that this "Oral Torah" was completely fabricated by the rabbis post 70 C.E. This is certainly timely as I seem to be the only guy in Messianic Judaism at the moment defending the rabbis.  Actually, that's not quite true.  McKee also defends them.

Back to the video...

So in the video there are these 2 Israelis and they tag team a diatribe against the rabbis and they actually say that the rabbis COMPLETELY invented the "Oral Torah", that it's something brand new post 70 C.E.  You can see it HERE.

Now, I love the guys and Torah Resource and I was wrong to jump the gun the other day and say they had censored me---I was responding from a place of hurt and acting irrationally.  That said, they are major teaching institution and so I'm still going to discuss the ideas that they present--just hopefully in a more respectful manner.

So yesterday I notice that Caleb Hegg said publicly on Facebook that this video by the Israelis "hit the nail on the head."  To be fair, his exact words were "Well these guys pretty much hit the nail on the head."  Actually, to be completely fair, here is a screen shot of the comment:

Now, the Italian in me responding with a sinking heart.  I felt like, "this is the end of the world."  How can the Messianic movement survive with this type of thinking?

REALITY CHECK:   the One Law movement agrees on the fundamentals and feeling sad about this is really the result of forgetting to look at the larger picture.

Fundamental #1:  Yeshua is our Savior.  He loves us imperfect humans and knows how to fix us.  He offers complete salvation to us by His grace, a salvation we could never earn.  We all agree on that.

Other fundamentals defining our little movement include the idea that Jews and Gentiles are both called to keep the Torah of Israel because all Believers in Yeshua belong to Israel.  Everyone in the One Law movement agrees on that.

Okay, so deep breaths.  The guys at Torah Resource don't agree with me on everything.  In fact, they apparently hate something that I love.  But, reality check, what we love unites us more than what we hate.

And, further reality check, someone's position on the Traditions shouldn't affect fellowship.

This post is really for me--I'm trying to remind myself that this is a hierarchy of fundamentals that unite us.  We have to fully accept one another based on these fundamentals.  I'm not articulating this very well at all but I think you all understand what I'm trying to say.




  1. I wouldn't say you're the only one in the blogosphere pondering this matter, nor would I say that Caleb Hegg in specific or Torah Resource in general has the definitive opinion on Oral Law as you can read here.

    This all tends to re-enforce my opinion that Hebrew Roots/One Law (in general) has more in common with Evangelical Christianity than with any form of Judaism, particularly in their views on Judaism as a way of life beyond the surface behaviors of donning tzitzit and laying tefillin.

  2. I'm still not sure I understand your disagreement Pete. Nobody is arguing against tradition in toto. Tradition is a necessary (IMO manmade) adjunct to the written Torah, that tells us *how* various Torah commands can be implemented. God tells Israel to wear tizitzyot, tradition tells us how how to wear them (tallit, tallit katan, etc), how to tie them (how to knot them, what kind of blue thread, etc.), etc. The question here (and in the video) is whether there is a body of Oral Teaching that was, in fact, given at Mt. Sainai, and passed down, without error, or change, from teacher to student, up until the codification of the Talmud -- as many Orthodox today hold.

    My question is, do you agree with this notion? Do you believe that God gave Moses 2 Torah's on Mt. Sainai -- a written, and an Oral Torah -- and that this Oral Torah was passed down from teacher to student over the years, in an unbroken chain of succession?

  3. I just want to make it clear that in my writings I have argued for a "consultative authority" for the Rabbinic materials of the Mishnah, Talmud, etc.--which sit among other bodies of ancient literature and writing, all designed to try to best interpret and apply the Biblical text, which has primary authority.

    Here is a link to an article I wrote a while back on the different historical works often consulted by Scriptural examiners:

  4. Good article. Balanced.

  5. I'm going to have to transcribe the entire 7 minute video and respond to it point by point to be fair (which I totally don't mind doing because I am a nerd). I'll do a new post that answers your questions.

  6. First, thanks for the great link. I'll read it more in depth this evening but it looks very good.

    Second, we do have to be careful about making sweeping generalization about the One Law movement. Also, to be fair we need to take into account what the individuals actually practice. Because it may be a communication issue that we're dealing with here.

  7. I agree about sweeping generalizations, though in this case, I'm speaking from my personal experience with various Hebrew Roots congregations over the years. Of course, the door swings both ways relative to how Messianic Judaism is perceived since their is no one overarching expression of this movement either.

  8. James,

    Judaism consist of more than Orthodox, in other words, not all sects of Judaism hold Oral traditions in the same regard. Not even during the time of Yeshua, the Essenes were very opposed, maybe they were Christians :P, or maybe they didn't get the memo of an Oral Torah ever existing... The body of Messiah is not accepted in Judaism, in fact it doesn't even exist for all they care. We must have a mix of both to maintain truth. Neither of these religions hold the entire picture of truth painted in the scriptures, they both certainly hold some.

  9. Clearly a few of their points are solid, certainly we have no way to verify the claim that Moses was given an Oral Torah at Mount Sinai, what we can assume and argue for, is that the law on a national level, was developed by a governmental authority on how those laws would be enacted within the boundaries of the Torah, meaning, the man made laws (man developed), could not invalidate the Law of God, ie in a modern world, automobile laws would need to be created, such as stop lights.

    Their message failed in one major way, which is how they go about making their point. One they are bashing Judaism, how are they going to reveal Messiah to anyone in Judaism, by bashing what they believe? Not going to happen. Then they claim the Oral Torah was fabricated out of deception... terrible and ridiculous to believe. Then they deny that Judaism had any authority, it is like denying a pastor having no authority, nonsense. I found the video to be disrespectful to Judaism, when in fact there should be a strong respect for Judaism.

  10. Sounds good. And since I know you're interested in all things legal Peter, here's a question that might be worth throwing around: if I want to understand what the words of the U.S. Constitution meant to those who received it (what an "election" was, what the "House of Representatives" was, etc.), how would I go about doing that? Would I need to find a person who received an "authoritative tradition" from their legal teacher, who received it from the legal teacher before him, etc.? Or would I analyze the words of the Constitution itself (the language it employs, the narrative context, etc), and consult various proximate historical documents from that time period, in order to understand what the Framers were referring to?