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Pharisaism

By Michael C.

Background

Everything in Judaism is predicated on the Torah and Talmud.

  • Torah (the written scriptures)
    • Tenach (ten-ock) is an acronym for Torah, Prophets and Writings. The use of this word only goes back just a few hundred years.
    • Kara is the true, ancient name for the Tenach.  
    • Karaites are those who live by the scriptures, not by man’s traditions or opinions. If you go by His Word as He teaches it to you, as He has clearly written it for you to obey, you are a “karaite” (see www.karaite-korner.org).
  • Talmud (oral law). Orthodox Jews believe that during the 40 days and 40 nights Moses was on Mt. Sinai, he was given a second Torah that was to be transmitted orally -- the Talmud. The belief in this Oral Torah (or Oral Law) is the basic doctrine that defines modern Orthodox Judaism and ancient Pharisaism alike (Babylonian Talmud, Sabbath 31a; Josephus Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews 13.10.6).
    • Talmudists are those who follow rabbinic tradition. They prioritize the Oral Law and the commands of the Rabbis over the Word of Yahweh.
    • Ma’asim (mah-ah-seem): “Acts or deeds that serve as precedents or laws of standard behavior”, the most common of which are...
    • Takanot (Tock-a-noat) The Talmud commands obedience to the Pharisee Rabbis and gives them the prerogative to create new commandments called takanot ("enactments"), or the traditions of the rabbis that supercede the commands of the Torah.  They reforms that change scriptural law are called “the commandments of the rabbis.” There are literally hundreds of instances where rabbis have twisted and changed the Word of Yahweh, thus enabling them to “teach for doctrines the commandments of men.” The Orthodox Jews put their Oral Law, the Talmud, the Mishna and other traditions of men above the Torah.

One good example of a takanot is the Rabbinic Hallel calendar.  In 359 CE, the Romans were shutting down the Sanhedrin. So there was an emergency meeting of the Sanhedrin under Rabbi Hallel to do something to unite all Jews in the Diaspora.  They created a calendar system so that all Jews worldwide could keep it…though it was “Takanot”—not Father’s calendar. Hellel and the Sanhedrin said the calendar would be used until the Jews came back into the land.  The Jews started coming back in the late 1800s, and flooded in after 1948. But the rabbis refused to re-adopt Father’s calendar by sighting of the new moon over Jerusalem, and the aviv stage of the barley to determine Aviv 1 (Exodus 12:2) for the Festival calendar year.  They now say that Messiah will straighten it all out.  But, the Karaites say, “No. Now that we are back in the land, we must go back to the Torah as He commands us!”  

The Pharisaic Five

In Pharisaism, there are five fundamental laws:

1. There are 2 Torahs: Modern Orthodox Jews and ancient Pharisees not only consider obedience to the Talmud’s Takanot as obedience to God, they also believe they are even more important than the commandments of the Torah. The Talmud says concerning these Rabbinical commandments,

"Be careful concerning Rabbinical enactments even more than the Torah. Because...anyone who violates a Rabbinical enactment is worthy of death" (Babylonian Talmud, Eiruvin 21b).

“My son, take heed of the words of the Scribes more than the words of the Torah.” (Talmud)

2. Absolute Authority of the Rabbis: You don't have to believe, but you MUST obey. They and only they have the authority and right to interpret scripture. If a Pharisee is wrong, you obey them anyway; the sin will be on the head of the Rabbi. God has no authority, for He honors what the Rabbis say. “Even if they instruct you that right is left and left is right, you must obey them.” (Midrash)

3. Irrational Interpretation of the Rabbis: The Rabbis decide what the Torah and Talmud means. If a Rabbi sees error and can prove the error, unless the others agree, he has to incline after the majority. Rabbi Nissim ben Gerondi stated the fundamental claim of Rabbinic authority quite clearly: “What they (the majority of the sages) decide is what God has commanded.” (HaRan, Derashot HaRan #7)

4. Sanctified Tradition: (Minhag) Customs which become sanctified and then become law. So, if it is said long enough and practiced long enough, it becomes doctrine and the law. Like:

  • Not using the elevator on the Sabbath.
  • Not turning on or off lights on Sabbath.
  • The prohibition against praying with uncovered head.
  • Not walking four cubits with an uncovered head.
  • The wearing of the sun disc hat (kippah) and lighting of Shabbat candles with the prayer that says, “Blessed are you, King of the universe, who has commanded us to light the Shabbat candles”.  This tradition was “sanctified” by the Jewish rabbis about 800 years ago.
  • Having a special type of water container filled with water, then pouring the water over the right hand, then the left hand, repeating that two or three times, in order to please Him.
  • Not using the phone on Sabbath (in Israel, if you are an Orthodox Jew, the law says you must not use the phone on Sabbath; they check your phone records to make sure you are obeying).

“A custom of Israel is Law” (Torah).  

5.   Commandments of the Rabbis are law: Even if there is no reference to it in scriptures, if the Rabbis declare it, it is so. “By observing the rabbis’ commands, you are obeying God”.  
“A person must not say `I will not keep the commandments of the elders because they are not from the Torah’.  The Almighty says to such a person, `No my son! Rather, all that they decree upon you observe! As it is written: ‘According to the instructions which they teach you’ (Deuteronomy 17:11).  `Even I (Yahweh) must obey their decree as it is written `you will decree and I (Yahweh) will fulfill it’”. (Midrash Pesikta Rabbi)

Kara

Because of these facts, it should not be surprising to know that Christ was a Karaite Jew (one who believes in the Torah but not the Talmud). Everything Yeshua said and did was in defiance of the dictates of the Pharisees.  He delighted in breaking their takanot and ma’asim. In Psalms 2:4, God laughs in derision of those men who think they have outwitted Him.

Take the washing of the hands, for example:

In Matthew 15, the disciples sat down to eat bread without washing their hands (which ancient Jewish tradition requires). Seeing this, the Pharisees approached Yeshua with an accusation: "Why do your disciples transgress the traditions of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread" (v.2). Yeshua responded, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" (v.3).

Was this requirement in the Torah? Where does the Torah command washing the hands before eating? Answer: there is no such commandment in the Torah! This is surprising, because when Orthodox Jews wash their hands, they make the blessing, "Blessed art thou Lord, king of the universe, who has... commanded us to wash the hands."

Why would Orthodox Jews all over the world and throughout history bless God for commanding them to wash their hands, when no such commandment can be found in the Torah?

Rabbis explain that the obligation to wash the hands is an enactment instituted by the rabbis more than 2,000 years ago. They further explain that the "oral" Torah (Talmud) commands us to obey the rabbis, and by obeying the rabbis, we are indirectly obeying God. So the blessing that God commanded us to wash our hands is really a declaration of our obedience to the God-given authority of the rabbis to enact new commandments.

Traditional Pharisaism had corrupted the purity of the Law of Moses. This is why Yeshua himself stated,

"The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever he [Moses] bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not." (Matthew 23:2-3 JST)

This is why the Dark Ages were just that -- dark. The pope demanded obedience and honor, even worship.  People had to obey him over the Word of Yahweh. So he removed the Scriptures from the people, replacing them with Catholic doctrine and tradition, rules and regulations.  Those not adhering to the pope’s decrees faced excommunication and, perhaps, death.

This is why Jesus Christ told Joseph Smith how wrong it was to teach for commandments the doctrines of men.

This is why those endowed before 1990 observed (in the temple endowment) that the "preacher" told Adam and Eve that there would be many willing to teach the philosophies of men mingled with scripture (that scene has long since been removed).

The Problem With Takanot

The problem with Rabbinical enactments, or takanot, is that the (written) Torah itself commands,

"You shall not add unto the matter which I command you today nor shall you diminish aught from it" (Deuteronomy 4:2).

But man-made Rabbinical enactments are an addition to the Torah! This is apparently what Yeshua meant in Matthew 15 when he sharply contrasted the man-made "traditions of the elders" with the "commandment of God" -- traditions nullify God’s commandments. Isaiah 29:13 calls these man-made laws "learned commandments of men," or, as it is paraphrased in Matthew 15:9, "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

Yeshua upheld Biblical Judaism but rejected the innovations introduced by Pharisaism/Rabbinic Judaism, which are still very much alive and well. It:

  • Is basically a legal system, created by man, to control the Jewish people.
  • Circumvents the need for a blood sacrifice, making salvation dependent upon adherence to rabbinic oral traditions.
  • Brings people into heavy bondage, under the control of men using their own twisted version of the Torah to circumvent Yahweh’s directives as it pleases them.  
  • Is a system of deceit, which keeps His people from knowing Yahweh and His Messiah.

Islam is also a legal system by which its leaders seek to control their people.  Christianity (under Constantine and his successors) is also basically a legal system by which to control its members. The common denominator in both religions: they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, even if they are mingled with scripture.

These man-created religions are Luciferic-based, because they aim to control the hearts and minds of others for their own selfish ambitions. To control the minds of man by religion is to control the empire, whether it be a world, a nation, a church or a synagogue. This is why religion rides the political beast—for protection, for power, for money, for freedom to rule over the mind, emotions and will of mankind.

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