Messianic Judaism – The Need for Halacha (Jewish Law)
This is the next in a series of articles about the growth of Messianic Judaism within the broader Jewish movement. This time I will focus on the need for Messianic Halacha.
Wikipedia defines Halacha as follows: Halakha (Hebrew: הלכה ) — also transliterated Halacha— is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law (the 613 mitzvoth ) and later Talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.
Judaism has many sources of Jewish law the Torah, Talmud, The Shulchan Aruch, etc. And these are just a few of the sources. So as Messianic Jews, who are part of Judaism, we need to define our own sense of Halacha.
Now as Messianic Jews who believe in Rabbi Yeshua we would obviously follow Torah, just as Yeshua himself did. We would also include the Besorah HaTovah (Good News), which includes the writings of the Emissaries. However, what do we do with the rest of Jewish Law? Do we simply discard it or is there a way to include it within Messianic Judaism?
I believe that if we are to be taken seriously by the Jewish community at large we need to address these questions. I always like to preface that I am only one Jewish voice. The purpose of these articles has always been to have an open, honest and respectful debate within the Messianic Jewish community.
First and foremost I believe that Yeshua must be the example we follow. As my Rabbi I want to follow his teachings. This is no different than any other Jew who follows the teachings of their Rabbi. We also need to follow Torah since Yeshua himself said that he did not come to abolish Torah, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). In fulfilling the Torah Yeshua came to explain the true meaning of Torah and what it means to lead a real Torah observant life.
What about other sources of Jewish Law such as the Talmud, should we as followers of Yeshua read it? I will give you a very Rabbinic Answer, Yes and No!!
I believe we must view everything through the eyes of our Rabbi Yeshua. We know that he himself was Jewish and therefore, he followed Torah faithfully, but did he follow any other sources of Jewish Law? I believe the answer is yes.
In Mark Chapter 7, for example, the Pharisees accuse some of Yeshua’s disciples of not doing the practice of Netilat Yadayim (the washing of their hands). Notice, that they do not accuse Yeshua of this, simply some of his disciples. I believe Yeshua did wash his hands because there is no reference to say that he did not. Netilat Yadayim is simply a Jewish tradition and not a Torah commandment of Hashem.
There seem to be those of us within the Messianic Jewish community which forbid reading Talmud, Zohar, etc because we argue that those sources are not biblical. I would humbly disagree. I think everything including rabbinic literature has its place within Messianic Judaism.
For example, the kosher laws are mentioned in Vayikra Chapter 11 and repeated again in Devarim Chapter 14. However, the process of how to slaughter the animal in a kosher manner is found in the Talmud. So, I think it is wrong to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We must simply remember to view everything through our ultimate authority our Rabbi Yeshua.
Also, the Messianic Jewish community practices many traditions which are not found in the Torah. These include, but are not limited to: lighting Shabbat candles, chanting the Torah and lighting the Chanukah candles. None of these practices are mentioned in the Torah, but we still do them. So, it seems a little hypocritical to me to be telling people not to follow rabbinic traditions when we follow many of them ourselves.
We are not the Jewish Church!
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