#12. To Learn and Teach Torah.
Every Jew knows that to be a Jew is to be one of the chosen. Every Jew knows God gave the commandments to Moses. But perhaps not every Jew realizes that "chosen" means to receive, learn, do, and teach the Law.
Many Jews do understand this responsibility and strive to do all. Many Jews do not understand this responsibility, but still endeavor to learn and teach some or all of the Law. Many Jews understand this responsibility and intentionally ignore it because it is "too hard." Many Jews understand this responsibility and do the opposite, intentionally breaking the Law. Then there is a small percentage of Jews who not only intentionally break the Law, openly, but also teach against it, not only by their open example but also by evil blasphemy against the Law.
Many Jews do not understand that the eyes of the world are watching them. For all people, from Iceland to South Africa, from China to America, have heard the ancient story, that Moses received the Law and that the Jews are the Chosen People. Those eyes therefore judge whether the Jews are worthy to have received such a Law or to be called the Chosen People. Those Jews who do and teach the Law are the epitome of that worthiness. Such Jews are literally the light of the world, shining in the eyes of those who look. They represent a beacon of hope for everyone, even to the atheist that constantly seeks truth, even to the Nazi who believes Jews are evil. They are an example of righteousness within a very human group called "the Jews," and an example of fortitude in the face of worldwide persecution and derision.
Perhaps the greatest example of the lawful Jew is Jesus Christ. It might be argued that Christ did not perform the Law in accord with this-or-that principle or standard, but such an argument can only be based upon the words of New Testament. If the words of New Testament are to be admitted as testimony, Christ was guilty of no Torah transgression. For the Jewish court of Sanhedrin found no genuine fault in Him, until He claimed to be the Son of God. This claim, however, is not a transgression of Torah, for a Son of God is, in fact, someone who strives to learn, do and teach Torah!
Jesus was persecuted for His teaching approach, not His content. He dared to claim authority to teach Torah at a time when Sanhedrin possessed that authority, to keep or to share. Yet, teaching Torah is commanded. Why did Sanhedrin therefore harass Christ for teaching? Since they did not convict Christ for any previous action before His trial, we cannot without basis assert that Christ was harassed for lack of Torah impeccability. Rather, Christ was persecuted for exceeding the Torah impeccability of the Pharisees and Sanhedrin! To prove this, we need go no further than to observe that, during Christ's trial, the Sanhedrin brought false witnesses, a sin which is also a capital crime under Torah. It is not Christ who taught against Torah, but rather it was Sanhedrin that violated Torah quite flagrantly.
The authority which Sanhedrin was granted, or granted itself, was obviously not based on how well they knew or taught Torah, but rather on how powerful a grip they held over the people, whether through force, through ignorance of the people, or through public apathy to hold leaders accountable.
The mission of Jesus, whether He decided or it was decided for Him by God, was to criticize the Sanhedrin's irresponsible behavior. For as Christ said, they take a proselyte (a prospective convert) and make him, through their erroneous power-tripping, twice the child of hell. To whichever extent Christ meant this, it wasn't a compliment.
Jesus knew full well He would have no help in His confrontation with the Sanhedrin. He was right. The disciples denied Him or ran for cover. The people considered Jesus a menace to their semi-peaceful way of life. And Rome, the government over the government, found no fault in Christ but also did not intercede in His execution.
Jesus was able to teach Torah better than the Sanhedrin, and to win converts to Torah at a startling rate. Thus, Jesus embarrassed the Sanhedrin, scared them, and provoked them to a seething anger. Such reaction by the Sanhedrin was, however, unwarranted. They should have embraced Him and His Word and not eliminated Him.
Why did Jesus go the distance? Why was He willing to die rather than withdraw His accusations against this corrupt Sanhedrin? He did it for His people. He did it for His friends. And "ye are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14). What did Jesus command? To love one another as He loved us. How did He love us? He never gave up His mission in the face of danger, but rather continued to school Sanhedrin for the benefit of all, even unto death. That is the love of Christ, and that is what Christ commands, to learn Torah and to teach it, even unto death.
Solomon wrote, quite succinctly, that the entire duty of man is to fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
When a person catches fire for God, the first thing he or she endeavors to do is consult the holy book, and specifically to consult the “rules of the game” (The Law) to see if it matches up with (a) the teachings from the pulpit and (b) what one already believes. When it is therefore discovered in the Law of God, the commandments, the rules, that certain foods, clothing, hairstyles, lifestyles, sexual gratifications, and other things are forbidden, a great falling-away occurs. A rebellion against commandments begins immediately. Bargaining ensues. A search for those who think more like you and less like the Law is started. You don’t want to feel alone, so you seek out like-minded people who dilute the commandments to your specific gravity. Thus, denominations spring from religions, and sects from denominations, all according to how much or how little the Law of God is applied. Those who believe the Law is the primary thing are called orthodox, conservative or fundamentalist; those who think the Law secondary or unimportant are called liberal or reformed. Amongst these name-tags are further distillations to both satisfy flocks and cement arguments.
Such deviations from the Law do not reflect “evolution” from primitiveness, but rather regression to pre-Torah, or savagery, according to doctrine and tradition. Law is that which keeps the base components of man at bay. Any deviation is therefore back to more carnal and dangerous man, who steals, murders, commits adultery, worships Baal, puts the children through the fires of Moloch, and so forth. Those who argue that “least commandments” serve no purpose other than cultic identity or organization are deflecting their own inability or unwillingness to follow commandments by purposely calling them antiquated and/or surpassed. Their desires are more important to them than God’s desires.
Christians have taken this mindset and canonized it with many
commentaries and apologists. They excuse behavior outside the Law by
neutralizing the Law with the blood of Christ, and by denigrating those
speak out against such neutralizing. But the mission of Christ is
evident through the story of Christ, and His mission was not to excuse
unlawful behavior, else we should expect Christ to have excused the unlawful
behavior of that Sanhedrin. The blood of Christ cannot
negate the words of Christ, and Matthew 5:19 is indisputable: "Whoever
teaches the least commandment shall be called greatest; whoever does
not do the
least commandment and teaches others likewise shall be called least."
The Christian may feel empowered to, for example, eat bacon, but Christ says otherwise. When Christ said "it’s not what goes in the mouth, it’s what comes out," He did not mean this about food, else we may eat even the flesh of human beings, for such is the natural progression when excusing unlawful behavior. Rather, Christ was answering Pharisaic objections to eating with unwashed hands (Matthew 15:20), which is not against Torah. Why is the clear meaning of such a clash between Jesus and the Pharisees twisted to uphold a non-Torah doctrine of eating unclean meats?
Christians pretend that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, wrestles and argues with God on their behalf, like an ACLU lawyer defending the indefensible. They believe that Christ came to make Torah more pagan rather than to make people more Torah. When this fails, Christians say Christ is God, who can do whatever He likes including changing His Law. But the Law itself states that nothing shall ever be added or taken away from the Law, and Jesus Christ agrees that He came not to destroy the Law, neither a jot nor tittle (portions of letters). So if the Law states it is eternal and unchangeable, and Christ agrees and reiterates, how can the Christian claim ability to break the commandments and still not be subject to punishments for breaking commandments?
The answer is simple. Whoever does such a thing feels entitled to such a thing. Such entitlement causes rebellion against Torah. Such rebellion permits to be subsumed or ground under whoever gets in the way, even Jesus Christ. The fact that New Testament cannot be explained without Old Testament is not an impediment to such rebellion, for the Old Testament is merely amended or otherwise ignored to fit the new doctrine. Christianity is therefore like the Star Trek Borg, assimilating all things in its path, retaining for use only those things which benefits it.
Jews are also assimilated by this Borg. But whereas Christians believe they are entitled to break Torah through a waiver, Jews just break it because it's "too hard." In reality, however, it's "too hard" because Jews, like most people, want to fit in, and it's easier to do as the Romans do than it is to remain Jewish in a Gentile neighborhood or move to a Jewish neighborhood. How hard is it to move? Apparently, impossible.
Jews and Christians act as if the Law is a hammer to harm them rather
than a gavel to judge. Whoever invokes Torah to a Christian is called a
"legalist" and other naughty words. Yet if being a legalist is a
wrong thing, Jesus was wrong, for His entire basis was lawful
living, legal arguments, and Torah teaching. If He did
other than this, He could not be the perfect being which Christians say
is. Christians require this perfect being for His blood, to
sacrifice it over their sins, but they reject the life of Christ as
their own. They accept Christ as perfect but reject His actual
leadership. According to Christianity, Christ fulfilled the Law
so they don't have to. In many ways, in fact, Christians revel in their
imperfection in order to invoke a magical Grace they say surrounds them
and only them.
We are COMMANDED to teach Torah, but how can you teach the Law without hypocrisy if you openly disobey? You cannot. The commandment is not fulfilled if you yourself do not obey. This is what made Jesus Christ great. He lived it AND taught it. Many, many Christians do not emulate Jesus but rather admire Him from a distance. This is incorrect. Proper Christianity is lawful Christianity just as proper Judaism is lawful Judaism (and yes, that includes commandments which seem discriminatory or hurtful to certain groups of people with whom you wish to make peace).
Copyright 2004-2017 Tom Wise. All Rights Reserved.