Gen. 24:48 — ואברך את יהוה אלהי אברהם אשר הנחני בדרך אמת
Deut. 6:6-7 — והיו הדברים האלה אשר אנכי מצוך היום על לבבך ודברת בם בלכתך בדרך
Acts 24:14 — אני מודה כי אני בדרך ההיא אשר יקבוה מפלגה בה אני עובד את אלהי אבותינו וכי אני מאמין בכל הכתוב בתורה ובנביאים



Rabbinic Judaism vs. Torah: Who Will Win?

Recently I have been struck more and more by the extent to which rabbinic Judaism, while loudly claiming to uphold and promote Torah, actually denies and violates Torah.

A good example is the practice of kosher hotels in Jerusalem providing holiday meals to thousands of observant Jews every Pesakh, Shavuot, Rosh haShana, etc. To do so they must press into service an army of employees, both Jewish and Gentile. This is absolutely and unequivocally forbidden by Torah, which makes it clear that both the Israeli and the foreigner in the land are to rest and not work on shabbat (Exodus 23:12; Deuteronomy 5:14). Yet the practice is not only condoned by rabbinic Judaism, but actually nurtured and encouraged.

In talking with orthodox rabbinic Jews, it often becomes clear that the reason they do not follow Torah (despite claiming to) is because they do not believe Torah (despite claiming to). Over the centuries, rabbinic Judaism has invented all sorts of ways to make the text seem to mean just about anything except what it actually says! This applies to the shmita, the seventh-year rest of the land from agriculture; it applies to the claim that Re'uven did not really sleep with Bilhah, his father's concubine, though Genesis 35:22 says explicitly that he did; and it applies of course to numerous other scriptures.

Rabbinic Judaism does follow an observance that is in some way derived from or based on Torah. But there is always a twist, which usually distorts the actual mitzvot. One non-Jew who came to live in Jerusalem for a while noted that rabbinic Judaism seems to consist mainly of making up lots and lots of new rules that God never commanded, and then finding ways to get around the ones He did command! That's not a bad summary, sadly.

This system creates not only an entirely different view of Torah (than what results from simply reading the text), but also, therefore, a very different view of God, of life, of one's self, of one's community, of one's obligations and goals, and so forth. Despite all claims to the contrary, the lifestyle and mindset of rabbinic Judaism are often very far removed from those of Torah. It makes a difference whether one believes that the fathers sinned -- seriously and frequently -- or whether one instead insists, in blatant denial of what is recorded, that they were completely righteous and flawless. It makes a difference whether one believes that the foreigner in Israel should rest on shabbat or that we should set aside this clear commandment for the sake of our own convenience and pleasure.

The list of examples could go on and on. One topic that is often mentioned is the ridiculous and discriminatory insistence on matrilineal descent in defining Jewishness, despite universal acknowledgment that Torah operates primarily (if not exclusively) according to patrilineal descent. Or the intentional avoidance of work and army service by many ultra-orthodox Jews. There is ample evidence to prove that rabbinic Judaism -- while chanting Torah! Torah! Torah! -- has actually been fighting against the plain sense of the Torah for about 2,000 years. And this destruction of Torah is usually supported by the most nonsensical reasoning, which a child could see through but adults refuse to question. (I know that "nonsensical reasoning" is an oxymoron; but how else is one to describe the convoluted rationalizations?)

I am here to say that there are some of us Jews who actually want to follow Torah! Because the Torah, the teaching, of God gives life. It is what will give true life to our nation, and to the foreigners in our midst, and to the world. (See Leviticus 18:5; Ezekiel 20:11, 20:13; Nehemiah 9:29; etc.) It is what can give the dati (religious) and the khiloni (secular) fruitful and peaceful life. But the latter needs to set aside his aversion to God's ways. And the former needs to set aside his aversion to God's ways.

Currently rabbinic Judaism is far ahead of Torah in the minds and hearts of Israel. Can we change that? Please?


1 comment:

  1. Another important point is that by adding and taking away from the Torah they are violating the Torah (Deuteronomy 12:32)!!

    Rabbinic Judaism has so convinced the world that it is the guardian of Torah, that those who truly desire to follow God and His Torah are automatically assumed to be considered in the rabbinic camp- by those on all sides. It's quite funny in Israel that even secular Jews, who have no desire to follow halacha, know that if you want to be dati or even believe in God, then you need to obey the commandments of rabbis.

    When the Messiah returns I imagine that we will be able to sort all these things out.