In Mishnah 1 it says, “Moishe (Moses) received the Torah at Sinai and handed it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, the elders to the prophets and the prophets to the men of the great assembly.”
They (of the great assembly) said three things:
- Be careful in judgment
- develop many disciples (students)
- Make a fence for the Torah.
In Mishnah 2 Simon the Righteous was one of the last survivors of the great assembly. He used to say, “the world stands on three principles: on Torah, divine worship, and acts of kindness.” The oral tradition passed down by the great assembly, the seventy, the Sanhedrin, was directed and instructed by Moses to put important fences around the Torah, Prophets and Writings for good reason.
As individuals, if Jews had the right to interpret Scriptures without Master Teachers determining legislative decisions, there would have been utter chaos. Each man deciding what was right in his own eyes. Remember the Torah, Prophets and Writings are inspired by HaShem but the oral tradition was allowed by the L-rd. The oral tradition was meant to be in flux and should be considered that even today. What about the New Covenant Documents, the Halachic extensions of the Torah? Would the first century Nazarene sect and yes, even scholarly Jews, have written these unique documents without having the mindset of putting a fence around the Torah? Remember in the first century there was no New Testament and when one examines the documents most of them were written to the Gentile.
How do we know that they are inspired? Because of the story in the writings of who Yeshua was. The divine tzaddik, the Mashiach, the Anointed One, the Torah made human and the fulfillment of the oral tradition. Justifying the oral tradition remaining in flux, including new fences around the law which are rampant throughout what is commonly called the New Testament. This makes sense. The difference between today’s thinking among Evangelical Christians and Messianics
is that they read the writings of Josephus and erroneously take quotes from his view of the four branches of Judaism of that time period: Pharisees, Sadducees, the Essenes and the philosophical zealots. This could not be more wrong for there weren’t four branches of Judaism, but many streams of Judaism, many secret fraternities and secret groups. So instead of believing in four branches of Judaism we have a large number of different groups and sects in the first century and there may have been as many as 24 different sects even of the Pharisees.
This changes everything. Other forms of Judaism would have disagreed with some Pharisaic points of view in regards to the binding of a halachic ruling regarding any interpretation of the Torah. For many Pharisees believed that their bindings of a halachic ruling were more important than the Torah itself thereby rendering oral tradition just as obligatory as Torah commands. The 39 malachot, which are the 39 categories of how one should conduct oneself on Sabbath so as not to offend HaShem in any portion of the law on Sabbath, is perceived in today’s Orthodox Judaism as binding with rarely any maneuverability in how it is to be applied in this modern era.
When it says we are to put a fence around the law, orthodox Nazarene Jews of the first century would have created a set of rules and regulations, the how-to’s, if you will, of living a life of Torah for the child of Abraham by faith who is not Jewish. When one reads in the New Covenant (the halachic extensions of the Torah) where attempts are being made, and mind you I believe successfully, in developing a new set of fences to help the Goyim to live among the Jewish people. As I believe all fences are in flux and are apt to be changed if necessary to help the Jew and the Gentile to live in one big mishpocha (family), then I believe today’s orthodox Judaism that rejects Yeshua as Messiah and takes its cue from Pharisaic Judaism, is absolutely wrong in its approach in many areas regarding what oral tradition is to accomplish. There is a move among many orthodox Nazarene Jewish rabbis, a move that will definitely cause controversy, to reexamine the 39 malachot, to reexamine Pharisaic orthodox bindings that should never have been put in place to start with.
These 39 malachot may be diminished or even added to and even adjusted if necessary in the years ahead. When Mishnah 1 is quoted as saying the great assembly were to make fences around the law it did not mean that it would stop doing it because of the codification of the oral tradition through the Talmud. The great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, the rabbis in Jerusalem and our Nazarene sect Orthodox Jewish leaders also have the right to continue to make halachic rulings as we feel necessary to make each community functional, so we know what is considered accurate, authorized of Him and living a full righteous life. Remember Jethro instructed Moses to put righteous men over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens so righteous decisions would be made, not for just the twelve tribes but also for the stranger, the alien, the wanderer who would live among the Jewish people. Though there are many laws that have been facilitated, the Talmud (oral traditions) is not an end in and of itself, it remains in flux. Orthodox Judaism today that believes the binding of oral tradition and its rulings is more important than Torah will react very harshly through the reexamination and careful scrutiny of oral tradition by orthodox Nazarene Jews and their rabbis.
I believe the Halachic extensions of Torah (New Covenant), though inspired, does not mean that more rulings cannot be laid out in other materials. It helps non-Jews live close to the Jewish people if and when it is necessary. This does not mean these new renderings would be perceived as inspired word of G-d, of course not, but nevertheless they would be looked upon as additional halachic rulings that would be helpful, much like commentaries are today among evangelicals.
If we are to look at the oral tradition as in flux then it means it can be altered and changed for Jews in the Diaspora. It can also help the serious Gentile student look honestly at the access of Scripture and the traditions of the Jewish people in the hopes of solving the age old dilemma of Jewish-Gentile relationships; working closely with orthodox Nazarene rabbis, thereby promoting peace. All of this will take hard work, but I, for one, say let’s get started, let’s find the few that are out there and let us dialogue together for the furtherance of the Kingdom of HaShem.
Think on these things,
Rabbi Yosef Hilbrant