Testing Truth, Tradition, and Tare
The following is an EXCERPT from an upcoming BEKY Book, Truth, Tradition, or Tare? Please read it as an excerpt developing a previous point, not a stand-alone.
So Yeshua renders three practical "tests" for a Jewish tradition (or any tradition):
* Is the tradition grown from the seed of the Torah, the commandments of Adonai?
* Does the one performing the custom understand its weight is lighter than those written in the Torah?
* Does the tradition grown from the seed of the Torah have justice, mercy, and faithfulness at its heart?
A tradition observed to circumvent a written commandment is invalid. It is false fruit, a tare. A tradition that is a vehicle for the justice, mercy, and faithfulness inherent in every commandment is valid. It is good fruit.
It is important not to focus too much on the actual tradition without taking a hard look at the one performing (or not performing) it. Any person who performs traditions or commandments to be seen of men and earn their respect or praise is sowing the seed of the serpent. Not grasping that the point of any commandment or tradition is to discern the reality of Messiah Yeshua is still seeing Moses through the veil, not even knowing what the shadows know, for the veil obstructs the Light of reality.
Yeshua's examples of the publican and the Pharisee in prayer are another example of how one must examine the motivation of the one who practices a tradition to determine whether that custom meets Yeshua's criteria.
And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18: 9-14)
For the non-Jewish reader, it is easy to miss the fact that both the tax collector and the Pharisee were exhibiting Jewish customs! The Pharisee boasts that he tithes of "all," not just the produce required in the seed Words of the Torah. He fasts twice per week, which is not required in the Torah. The Torah only prescribes one annual fast day, Yom HaKippurim.
In his humility, the tax collector beats his breast as he requests forgiveness. Beating the breast is a Jewish custom associated with the Shmonei Esrei in the Slichah prayer, a prayer of repentance. True gratefulness follows true repentance, and beating the breast is an ancient way to express sorrow and grief. Jewish customs in prayer do not promote gloating over others, but heartfelt repentance and gratefulness.
Humility and gratefulness are the foundation of repentance...and the end result of real repentance. A heartfelt prayer GIVES the Light of the Torah; it does not shine it on the individual like the arrogant Pharisee. Although both men observe Jewish traditions grown from the seed of the Torah, only one exemplifies how the tradition could be the expression of fruits of repentance. The problem was not with the tradition, but the motivation of the one keeping it!
The gratefulness, humility, and forgiveness that Yeshua teaches is not grown from comparing one's self to others, but in honest self-evaluation. Statistically, envy is inversely related to gratefulness. In other words, the more you compare yourself to others, the less TRULY grateful you can be to your Rock and Shield, the Good One Who has Compassion on you.
The danger inherent in using social media to connect with other believers is the inevitable temptation to compare ourselves to others in both interpretation and tradition. Just reading Yeshua's parable of those who viewed their brothers and sisters in faith with contempt should be sufficient warning, but it is not.
If the tax collector was practicing an acceptable Jewish tradition of beating the breast in a prayer of repentance, and the Pharisee was also keeping traditions, yet using them as a point of comparison to his Jewish brother, then whether the tradition was valid was not Yeshua's point. His point, emphasized in the text, is that while one was practicing the tradition as a reminder of his own poverty of spirit, the other was practicing the tradition to misdirect the light of the Torah to himself.
Because so many are so new to the Torah walk, they turn to social media and website for advice in observing commandments. They love the Father, so they want to keep His commandments. The Torah says to do it, but it does not always tell you how! This is the part of the Torah that hangs on the heart of the believer to love his neighbor. Puzzles of HOW to do it are the most common point of controversy.
A well-crafted website or shocking Facebook page or blog can become the meeting place for controversy best left to face-to-face discussions over the Scriptures...discussions may last for days, weeks, or even months with patience. Paul often lingered with communities for months on end to continue instruction, but how many have the patience or even opportunity for that?
In the absence of opportunity to fellowship with more mature believers, newcomers often skip from website to website, teacher to teacher, book to book, and doctrine to doctrine. No one teacher holds all truth, yet to read some of these posts, you would think they do! How can the newcomer be circumspect in his or her search for a good shepherd or teacher?
First, make a local fellowship a priority. No human being can properly shepherd or pastor via email any more than a real flock of sheep can be shepherded by webcam. Search and don't stop until you find a healthy congregation. Second, use Yeshua's parable as a guide for using print or digital media as resources. Does the teacher frequently compare himself to other teachers or institutions to point out his superior interpretations or practices? Does he need to tear down other ministers or mock them to draw others to his ministry? The spirit of Ishmael is familial mockery.
If so, that fits the criteria of Yeshua's parable. If one keeps a commandment or a tradition to draw attention to his own correctness or righteousness, then his example is not one to follow, nor should any disciple learn from such a person except as an example of what NOT to do and a heart NOT to have. Comparison of interpretation, application, and practice is inevitable in learning, but maltreatment of brothers and sisters is not.
What is the Seventh Abomination of the Wicked Lamp?
Not a proud look.
Not a lying tongue.
Not hands that shed innocent blood.
Not a heart devising wicked plans.
Not feet that run quickly to evil.
Not a false witness breathing out lies.
The Seventh Abomination, the perfection of all the previous six abominations, the abomination formed of all six abominations that preceded it is...
One who separates brothers.
LaMalah Children's Centre
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If you enjoyed
What is the Torah?
, then three new BEKY Books are available today to extend your library. BEKY Books are
Books Encouraging the Kingdom of Yeshua
, and they offer simple explanations to questions that newcomers have. In other words, we strive to deliver the Word with cool heels! I invite you to take a look at
for bios on our authors and the list of upcoming releases.
The booklets can be read in one sitting, and they are designed to encourage and invite the newcomer to explore further for truth. Click on the images below to see the full book description on
Introduction to the Jewish Sources is a brief history of how the Jewish sources such as the Mishnah and Talmud evolved into the documents we have today. If you've ever read a commentary with a reference such as
Pesachim 2b and wondered what it was, Rabbi Creeger's quick reference guide in the booklet will give you a brief summary of each seder and tractate's contents. The simple explanations in this BEKY Book are a great way to walk in the sandals of the Jewish sages as they thought through the problems of guarding and remembering the Torah in each generation, and it will quickly lift your literacy level in Jewish history. Here is one Jewish reader's response to Introduction to the Jewish Sources:
I finished your book and then immediately turned back to the beginning. I'm very excited to read it. The timing is particularly good because I just began to read Pirke Avot-- not for the first time.
Your message is fresh, necessary; it is simultaneously simple and profound. You organically explain the development of the oral Torah in a way that anybody could understand. I have never seen anything like it. Moreover, you exhibit a humble tone throughout your work managing to be scholarly without being pedantic. For that I thank you personally. This book is the best witness for Yeshua that I could imagine. This is important to me. If I were speaking to an observant Jew who did not believe in Yeshua, I would be able to stand behind your book. Thank you!
is the first BEKY Book by Dr. Robin Gould, and it's the simplest explanation yet to some of the most controversial verses in the letter to the Colossians. Her careful examination of the Greek words and context deconstructs issues concerning the celebration of new moons and sabbaths, as well as answers the question of what was nailed to the cross. At the same time, Dr. Gould demonstrates the danger of taking verses or phrases out of context, which can lead the reader to draw a conclusion exactly opposite of what the writer intended. I want to buy several of these to keep in our own congregational library.
Messianic Shabbat Service is my second BEKY Book, and it is based on a visitor's booklet we compiled for visitors to our congregation. It was compiled after years of answering questions or addressing problems that arose due to a newcomer's lack of experience with our unique walk which is not Jewish, nor is it Christian. It also grew out of my retirement job of training Bureau of Prisons chaplains in how to meet the needs of Messianic Sabbatarian inmates. The challenge was to describe something that is entirely too diverse to describe!
The booklet includes a brief history of the Nazarene Jews and the "Messianic" movement along with some of the more usual components of a Messianic Jewish or non-Jewish Shabbat service or fellowship. For those who would like to have a resource with which to greet visitors to make them more comfortable, this is the booklet. In the question-and-answer section are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, such as
What are those little strings people are wearing?
Why do you turn toward Jerusalem to pray?
Isn't the Star of David a pagan symbol?
Why so much Hebrew?
If you'd like a quick summer read that is at the same time a handy giveaway to coworkers, family, and friends, consider ordering one or a full set of BEKY Books today. We could also use some positive reviews on amazon that will help potential buyers as they are considering whether it's worth that $4.49. I think they're worth every penny!