Pharisees vs. Karaites

Recently, someone started a discussion on Facebook as to whether followers of Yeshua should follow either a rabbinic (Pharisaic) path verses a more Karaite path in their Torah observance. I’ve got a lot of thoughts on this, but unfortunately am nearly always short on time due to pressing deadlines with my work. I would like to share, however, the brief response I wrote for this discussion:

It is natural to think that the Karaite way of doing things would be a better way of doing things. However, the Karaite interpretation is actually anti-Scriptural. Let’s think about it. If we were to go to a Karaite interpretation of Scripture, we would all being living out the Scriptures as we interpret them. Which means, we would not be in any kind of unity. Which means we would be celebrating the feasts at different times, celebrating them in different ways, trying to fulfill the commandments in different ways. In short, this is chaos and anarchy. The Master (Yeshua) was a Pharisee among Pharisees, in that he was in agreement with the Pharisees in all but one point: hypocrisy.

Here are 3 short examples of the many that can be sited to show his Pharisaic affinity:

  1. He & his disciples kept the feast at the same times as greater Israel (which was determined by Pharisaic halachah)
  2. He reclined at the Passover meal (a Pharisaic invention, seemingly contrary to the biblical mandate in Exodus)
  3. He gave a blessing before eating, strictly a Pharisaic invention

The list could go on and on. These are just off the top of my head. It boils down to this: Yeshua was in agreement with Pharisaic tradition so long as it did not contradict with the written Word. We must examine the words of the Master and the Apostolic writings to determine whether a tradition is able to be kept or not, and follow his example.

The Karaite method is not even an alternative. If we were following the Karaite method, we would revert to the days of the Judges when “Every man did what was right in his own eyes…And they again did wickedness in the eyes of Hashem.”

Chametz Everywhere!

Invariably, no matter how hard and long we clean in preparation for Chag HaMatzot (the Feast of Unleavened Bread), somewhere around the middle of the week, we open a cabinet or the freezer and there’s a whole package of hamburger buns or something ridiculous like that. This year things are already a little different.

We’ve found a couple of small things that we had forgotten contained vinegar (a type of chametz/leavened food that we have chosen to remove during this time), such as our Ranch dressing that we had mixed up before we had started purging our home. Since it wasn’t labeled, all we thought about was what was in the mix contents. We didn’t think about the mayo that was added to it!

But there was something that was even larger that I, personally found. The actual day of Pesach, I found about three loaves of puffy, white bread in my heart. I allowed my zeal for observing the feast at a higher level than those around me spoil the spirit of the feast. The entire daylight hours of Pesach for my family ended up being a burden, and not a joy. I allowed a conflict of observance to get under my skin and sour our Pesach experience. Fortunately, I was able to work through this with my family prior to our second seder, confessing my sin and asking forgiveness from my family & friends. 

I am admitting this publicly, because we need to confess our faults in order to get rid of them, and I also need a reminder for the following years so that I don’t allow it to happen again. I need to remember that we must continually look into the “Law/Torah of Liberty” (James 1:25;2:12), not falling prey to the “leaven of the Pharisees”—hypocrisy. I wanted to be strict in the minor areas, while allowing the larger, more weightier matters of the Torah (love, compassion, etc.) to fall by the wayside. May Hashem use this as a life lesson to draw me (and hopefully others) to the heart of His commandments. I am thankful for a loving and gracious family. Truly love does cover a multitude of sins.