Thursday, May 11, 2017

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Who Has the Final Say?


​   by Reb Gutman Locks
      

Who Has the Final Say?

 

Veronica asked;

     Do you hold to the teachings of the Sages the same as the Teaching of G-d's Torah? Some see them the same thing…what say you? Which has the final Authority? G-d or man?

 

Gutman's reply;

     It is well-known that there are different "degrees" or levels of Torah authority. For instance, we have the Written Torah and we have the Oral Torah. Both were given on Mt Sinai, but the Oral Torah which explains the Written Torah was written by the rabbis many years after the Written Torah was given.[i]

     There are also rabbinical mitzvahs such as Chanukah and Purim that are observed by all Torah observant Jews. There are many customs and traditions that we hold by and follow as if they were given to Moshe on Mt. Sinai. For instance men wearing a head covering; this is "merely" a rabbinical custom but few if any Torah observant men would walk down the street without their head covered. Shabbos candles are also a rabbinical mitzvah. Whereas Hashem told us to bring the holiness of Shabbos into our homes the Sages have shown us what practical things we can do to be aware of that holiness.

     The problem in trying to determine "who has the final Authority" is that without the rabbis explanations there would be precious little that we would understand. How would we know to put tefillin on the middle of our upper arms and not on our hand as the Written Torah commands? When I first began following Torah and Mitzvahs I read in the Written Torah that we should take a certain tithe and bind it to our hand. I took the tithe money and with a piece of yarn I tied it to my hand and came to Jerusalem to hand it out as I read in the Torah. I did not know, as the rabbis explain, that bind the money to your hand means do not spend the money on the way.

     In fact, without the rabbis' explanations there would be very little of the Written Torah that we would be able to understand. How would we know to fast on Yom Kippur? The Torah says to afflict ourselves. The rabbis explain that this means fasting. That "an eye for an eye" means to pay monetary damages? When is a wife to go to the mikvah? In fact, how would we know what a mikvah is? To put tzitzis only on the four corners of a four cornered garment. When I came to Jerusalem with my tithe money tied to my hand I also had fringes on my shirt collars and the top of my pants, and wherever I saw a corner.

     Who do we follow? It's pretty much up to you. But if you just pick and choose what to do you are saying that you are on a level to determine what is proper Torah observance, and few of us are.

     How do we know who was a true prophet whose readings we should include in our Torah study? The Sages told us. This week's reading of the Prophets says of the Levite-Kohanim, "They shall instruct My people concerning the differences between holy and ordinary; let them inform of the difference between the contaminated and clean."[ii] So we see that Hashem tells us through His Prophet that we should learn from our teachers.

     My suggestion is, go to an Orthodox rabbi you like and have a Shabbos meal with him. If you see that he and his wife and children love each other, are happy and friendly people, then ask him your Torah questions until such time as you might like to move on.

     There have been many deviant movements throughout the ages and every one of them has disappeared. They denied the Oral Torah saying it was manmade. The earliest attempt to deny the rabbis was in the wilderness when Korah said that Moshe had no right to tell Jews what to do.

     As for the current deviant movements like Conservative, Reform, Jewish Renewal and such, they are as good as gone. The Conservative now have voted to allow non-Jews into their congregations because their numbers are dwindling so quickly. The Reform Movement solved this problem by saying if someone's father is a Jew that person is a Jew. These movements teach many things that are entirely contradictory to the Written Torah.

     The families who stray from the Oral Torah, from the Sages, almost certainly intermarry and remove their children from the future of the Jewish Nation.

     The deepest answer to your question is; there is a saying; a Yerushalmi (a Torah Observant Jew in Jerusalem) cannot be a chassid.  A chassid in this sense means someone who has a Rebbe who guides him. This is an amazing statement in that a chassid is a very loftily level. This saying points out the unique position of a spiritually aware Jew who has been blessed to live in Jerusalem. Here we look to the Presence of Hashem to guide us.

     This does not mean that we do not learn from our Rebbes and Rabbis. It means that we look to Hashem for our answers. Ultimately, there is no one between the Jew and Hashem.

 



[i] This is the Talmud. When the Rabbis saw that the Oral Torah was being forgotten they wrote it.

[ii] Ezekiel 44:23

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is an agenda to undo Torah in e.y. by demonizing the Oral Law. This is a very sly way by the xtians and Erev Rav to undo Torah. Jews who are ignorant of Torah hear this and start questioning the validity of Rabbinic laws. The true Rabbis must be alert to this and start promoting more lectures and ldxxonx on the Torah, which includes both the Written and Oral Laws!

Shiloh said...

ROFL, even the coming messiah will be demonized by the rabbinates and incredibly ignorant masses when he explains to them there is no such thing as an oral Torah from Sinai. They brilliantly rigged the game some 2200 years ago and have been our Achilles heel ever since.

Anonymous said...

Reb Gutman: Have tried to write my comment on this matter, but apparently it's not being accepted. Believe it is because I criticize commenter #2 and others who deny Torah She'b'al Peh! This is the latest chilul H' being committed, of course, by either notzrim or karaite, etc.

The world exists only because of our Torah, both the Written and Oral Laws, the body & soul of the Bnai Yisrael.

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