Toby Janicki of FFOZ, recently posted some thoughts in regard to the Oral Torah and Yeshua’s statement, “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.” It was a very insightful post that confirmed some ideas I’ve been developing over the last several months. I think his quote from Schimmel’s book, The Oral Torah, is a key to help us understand a basic principle regarding the work of Yeshua. Here is the quote from the book:
Before instituting a decree of enacting an ordinance or inducing a custom which is deemed necessary, Beit Din [House of Judges] must calmly deliberate and make sure that the majority of the community can live up to it. At no time is a decree to be imposed upon the public, which the majority cannot endure. (The Oral Torah, H. Chaim Schimmel, pg. 112)
I posted my thoughts as a comment on the FFOZ blog, but I thought I would include them here for easy reference…
In regard to the spiritual leadership of Israel during the first century, Yeshua did not come to negate the Oral Torah (as many of us already know, but we would do well to emphasize this point here). He came to 1) expose, rebuke & correct hypocrisy and 2) make the Torah accessible to the “am ha’aretz,” the common person – the “average Joe” (so to speak).
At this point in history, Torah study and mitzvot had almost completely been relegated to the aristocracy. There was a great chasm between the “learned” and the am ha’aretz. Yeshua’s rebuke is often quoted ending with the first portion, “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders.” However, the heart of the matter is found in the latter part in which he said, “but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.”
This is huge! Yeshua’s rebuke worked! The word of Hashem that he spoke did not return void. They did not fall on deaf ears. The difference between the “burdens” the common man faced during the time of Yeshua and the Oral Torah of today is this very principle. We cannot equate the Oral Torah with the “burdens” that the hypocrites, during the time of Yeshua, had placed on the general populous.
Although I do not believe we should follow the Oral Torah blindly, nor in its entirety (for various reasons associated with our Master), we have to recognize that these are two different animals, and speak out against the slanderous accusations from those who are ignorant (not “dumb,” merely uneducated in this particular area) of the differences.
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