This past January I took a lot of flack from fellow Messianics as I denounced a video produced by Eitan Bar and Moti Vaknin of One For Israel. In the video, these two Israelis laid out a case for why we should all be anti-Judaic. The video is apparently no longer available but I've quoted verbatim what I can recall below (see note 1 below).
Caleb Hegg (Torah Resource) came out in favor of the anti-Judaic video, saying it "hit the nail on the head." Rob Roy also liked the video and took me to task for denouncing it. So it basically felt like I was suddenly all alone in the Messianic movement--the one remaining Messianic who recognizes the value of the Oral Tradition as a consultative authority. I'm sure that's not the case at all but that's how it felt at the time.
And why did I feel so strongly about the necessity of a core Jewish tradition that goes back to Sinai? Why the urge to defend it at all costs? Because the Written Tradition (i.e. the Tanak) cannot be understood completely without an explanatory tradition (see note 2 below with excerpt from Menachem Elon). And if our interpretative tradition is arbitrary then there is no longer any Torah to follow except those reinterpreted mitzvot that one deems convenient for one's particular lifestyle. In short, without an objective interpretative framework, we are left with no legal framework whatsoever (i.e. moral relativism). Furthermore, the Apostles were pro-Judaic and Yeshua Himself was pro-Judaic.
So now Eitan Bar and Moti Vaknin are at it again. This time they were not satisfied merely to strike at Jewish Tradition. This time they attacked the entire Torah, saying that we are not obligated to keep it, that it's impossible, that those who say they are Torah observant can never really be Torah observant (by the way, the more correct term should actually be Torah pursuant), etc. In other words, they have exposed themselves as Christians. Now, I should say that I love Christians since they believe in Yeshua. But they are our weaker brothers who have believed a terrible lie. This anti-Judaic, anti-Torah lie is so destructive! And, historically, it has always led to terrible anti-Semitism.
But there's hope. I noticed that Rob Roy posted this on Facebook the other day:
The text, if it's too small to see, says: "::Sigh:: While I'm very thankful to see so many Israelis coming to know Yeshua as Messiah, and while I was optimistic about One For Israel Ministry when I saw some of their videos on YouTube, alas, it looks like Eitan Bar & Moti Vaknin have bought into the same bad theology that many Christians have fallen for as well: 'Jesus declared all foods clean! The Torah is too difficult to follow! It's commands are burdensome! Throw off the Old Law, and let's just love, love, love!" I cringe to think that this is the 'Messiah' that they're attempting to share with their Jewish brethren."
For the Messianic Reader, my dear friend, please beware of those who claim to be Messianic but are not. A Christian is a brother but he is also anti-Judaic (which is anti-Torah). A Messianic is pro-Judaic. By "pro-Judaic" I mean having a modicum of respect for Rabbinic opinion. They are not our final authority--only Scripture and the Ruach is our Final Authority---but the Rabbis do have an expert level of authority when it comes to Scriptural interpretation. By the way, for a definition of Messianic Judaism see note "3" below.
Anyway, the way the world is going, pretty soon the world will be divided into just 2 groups: those who keep the Torah and those who try to destroy Israel. So now's the time to figure out which side you want to be on.
(1) "After the destruction of the second Temple...[the rabbis] had to invent a new Torah (Law) all together. And so they did. They called the new law they invented the 'Oral Law.'.....In Exodus 34:27, God commands Moses: 'Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.' No other law is mentioned. No 'Oral Law', or of tradition, unwritten that was supposedly transferred by word-of-mouth. But the Sages tried to force us to think that the 'Oral Law' was indeed included.....'Oral Law' is a myth, invented by the rabbis, in order to give themselves the power and the control.....God is expressing His anger with the people of Israel, because they follow commandments made by man, exactly as it is happening today with the 'Oral Law', that the rabbis invented, so they can have the power and the control over all of you.....we should mention, that wise men traditions and commandments are occasionally mentioned in the Old Testament, but always in a negative way," Eitan Bar and Moti Vaknin, One For Israel Ministry
(2) "One may conclude from even a cursory examination that Biblical commandments and laws were accompanied by many explanations and detailed rules--given orally or preexisting in practice--which supplement and give meaning to what is written in the Torah. The following are a few illustrations.
With regard to the law of the Hebrew slave it is stated:
'When you acquire a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years; in the seventh year he shall be freed, without payment.'
The basic intent of this and the ensuing verses is to limit the number of years of work and to establish the law applicable to a slave who enters his master's service either with or without a wife. Scripture postulates that it is possible to acquire a Hebrew slave and that how to do so is known, even though the Torah itself gives no details as to how such a slave may be acquired.
Later in the same passage it is said: 'When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not be freed as male slaves are,' and also 'if he [the buyer] designated her for his son, he shall deal with her as is the practice with free maidens.' What is 'the practice with free maidens' to which the verse refers? Neither this verse nor any other part of the Torah explains the nature of this legal institution. It necessarily follows, therefore, that these were laws that were known and accepted by the people, and the Torah's provisions were additions and refinements.
Divorce is another illustration of the same point. The Torah states:
'A man marries a woman and lives with her. She fails to please him, because he has found something obnoxious about her, and he writes her a bill of divorcement, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house....[Then, if the woman marries a different man and that man divorces her or dies, her first husband] who divorced her first shall not take her to wife again.'
The thrust of the passage is to prohibit remarriage to one's former wife after she has married someone else. The passage is premised on certain legal assumptions: that the woman was married to the first man; that he divorced her with a bill of divorcement, which he handed to her; and that she then married someone else. The Torah is silent as to any details concerning how marriage is effected, the nature of a bill of divorcement, etc. If no Oral Law existed to explain and give content to these legal institutions, it would have been impossible in practice to carry out the provisions that are stated in this Scriptural passage.
The Book of Deuteronomy provides still another illustration:
'When there is a dispute between men and they go to law and a decision is rendered declaring the one in the right and the other in the wrong; if the guilty one is to be flogged, the judge shall have him lie down and be given lashes in his presence, by count, as his guilt warrants. He may be given up to forty lashes but not more, lest being flogged further, to excess, your brother be degraded before your eyes.'
The point of this section is to teach us that if the accused is adjudged to undergo flogging, the rule is 'He may be given up to forty lashes but not more.' But when is a person to be sentenced to flogging? How does the court declare the one in the right and the other in the wrong? This, too, was necessarily law that was customary or transmitted orally, and the Torah builds on this law and merely complements it.
Finally, many commandments by their very nature require at least some explanation in order to understand their meaning and delineate their scope. For example, the prohibition of work on the sabbath is repeatedly stated in very general terms: 'You shall not do any work,' 'And on the seventh day you shall cease from labor,' etc. But what manner of work is prohibited? The Torah lists only three: plowing, harvesting, and the kindling of fire. However, is there any logic to prohibiting only these forms of labor and not others that are similar and even more onerous? From the Torah itself we learn that there forms of labor were not the only ones prohibited. The Book of Numbers states:
'Once, when the Israelites were in the wilderness, they came upon a man gathering wood on the sabbath day. Those who found him as he was gathering wood brought him before Moses, Aaron, and the whole community. He was placed in custody, for it had not been specified what should be done to him.'
Thus, the people that found the man knew that he was violating the sabbath, in that this was one of the forbidden labors, but they did not know what punishment was destined to be prescribed for him.
In short, the existence of oral laws necessarily follows from what is revealed by examination of the Written Law. The undefined terms and vague references in the Written Law simply cannot be understood, and therefore the Written Law cannot be carried out, without the Oral Law, which provides the necessary explanation and complementation," Menachem Elon, Jewish Law: History, Sources, Principles, Vol.1, pgs. 200-203