The Greatest Story Never Told
The Relationship of the Gentile and the Torah
By Ariel Bar Tzadok
This work was written mostly for a non-Jewish audience.
It contains concepts that certain gentile and Christian groups will well recognize, whereas these same concepts may be somewhat foreign to many of my religious Jewish readers. Nonetheless, in the battle for kosher Torah, we must address the beliefs of the cults and missionaries in their own language, otherwise they may not pay attention.
G-d's design for the universe and for man is truly unfathomable to mere human intelligence. As much as we learn about the secrets of science through our studies of technology there is still an entire realm of study that we have yet to begin to grasp. This is the study of how the Hand of the Living G-d guides mankind, Jew and Gentile alike, throughout human history. The secular skeptic will always claim that the course of human events is haphazard, with events happening coincidentally. Yet, for those blessed with spiritual insight, nothing is further from the truth.
Human civilization has certainly advanced greatly with respect to scientific development. However, there has been no reciprocal development on the side of human spirituality. Technology has rocketed forward within the last one hundred years. On the other hand, spiritual development has only inched forward over the past 5,000 years. As with all things, to this there is a reason.
In the beginning of the Bible there are a number of tales that have become legend in western civilization. The tales of creation, Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, the Flood and the Tower of Babel are all well known to us. Or are they?
What do we really understand about the earliest periods of human civilization? Really not much.
For although we all have access to the Biblical stories, much of the teachings of these stories is not accessible to the one not trained in understanding the original Hebrew and Jewish lessons on these subjects.
The beginning chapters of Genesis document for us the beginnings of the world and the beginnings of mankind and human civilization. The Bible records these events not so as to teach us comprehensive human history, but rather to teach us the history of something specific. The beginning chapters of G-d's Torah, in the Book of Genesis record His efforts at creating a perfect human society, what went wrong and how it is supposed to be fixed. The stories in Genesis are spiritually and historically progressive, each one continuing G-d's never-ending story. One builds upon the other until finally the spiritual picture can be seen. This Biblical spiritual picture outlines the whole course of human events.
Since the days of Adam, G-d has worked progressively to bring mankind as a whole to an understanding of Himself. This understanding is not simply an acceptance of a theological doctrine. Rather, it has to do with individual spiritual cognizance. In other words, it is not enough that each person be told what to believe. G-d's plan is that each person come to experience G-d's spiritual reality for themselves. Judging from modern day spiritual standards one might come to the conclusion that G-d has failed miserably in this task. But again, this is not the truth.
True, human spiritual understanding has not come a very long way since the days of the ancients. One of the reasons for this is that collective human spiritual understanding has not traveled in a straight line, meaning the shortest distance between two points, i.e., where we were to where we are going. There is one variable in humanity that enables us and, in essence, causes us to apparently set our own course through life. This variable is the G-d given right of Free Will. It is Free Will that separates mankind from the rest of created beings. Free Will enables us to chose our individual and collective paths. As individuals or as a society we can chose to enhance ourselves or to degrade ourselves. Whatever our course be, the invisible Hand of G-d, nonetheless, guides us individually and collectively to achieve that preordained purpose known in His blessed Wisdom. Only the one blessed with spiritual insight will recognize the invisible Hand of G-d that guides human history. Spiritual insight is not a bestowed gift. It is, rather, the reward for serious and honest study of G-d's Word.
This work which I will give to you now is intended to outline for you the wondrous and mysterious spiritual path that G-d has ordained for all mankind. Obviously, when I speak of all mankind, I include Jew and Gentile alike. For as long as we are all human, and we are, we are all then a part of G-d's plan. Each of us, Jew and Gentile alike, has our own unique place that G-d has created for us, and molded for us over thousands of years. This work will review the history of this plan and its progression. While this topic could fill an entire library of books, nonetheless, the basics are quite simple and easy to be related within these pages.
One point must be made perfectly clear. Unlike Christianity, Torah Judaism and the Bible does not teach that a Gentile must convert to Judaism in order to be saved. On the contrary, true salvation has always been something very different than what the Church preaches. It is clearly documented throughout the Bible that Jew and Gentile alike fulfill the Word of G-d simply by obeying G-d and following the path that He has laid down for us to walk. Nowhere in the Bible is there a call for correct doctrine. This is a man- made invention, not a creation of the blessed L-rd. From the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden, G-d has ordained for mankind commandments, which are to serve as the bedrock of human civilization.
My source of information and authority for the material that I will provide herein will be the Bible and the authoritative Oral traditions of Torah Judaism. We start with the Bible for that is the foundation of the Jewish faith. To me, as a Jew, the Bible not only outlines my personal spiritual path, it is also the history of my people. Judging from a historical point of view, the Bible is a completely Jewish book, written by Jews and for Jews. Its message, however, has been clearly appreciated by the non-Jewish world since the time Gentiles began to read the Bible and call it their own.
It must be remembered that when I refer to the Bible, I am referring to what the Christian refers to as the "Old Testament." Christians (and later the Moslems) claim that the Jewish Bible speaks about their religions and their spiritual truths. Christians claim that we Jews are blind to understanding our own scriptures and that we had suffered this spiritual blindness for 1,300 years before they came along. This type of Christian dogma is offensive and insulting to every Bible believing Jew. The Church has added insult to injury by adding another Bible to ours (their so-called "New Testament"). Herein they claim is our Jewish Bible explained in the right way. Yet, after studying the claims of the Church, Rabbis, for almost 2,000 years, have consistently pointed out to the Christian that they are not understanding the Jewish Bible and the religion of Judaism correctly. Most often our words have fallen on either deaf ears or violent ears.
The message of Judaism is really very simple. The Gentile did not need a "New" testament for them to have a relationship with the G-d of Israel. For the G-d of Israel is first and foremost the King of the universe, G-d of the Gentile and Jew alike. G-d had made a covenant with the Gentiles almost one thousand years before there were any Jews. Yet, most Gentiles, to this day, are unaware of this covenant. In fulfillment of the words of the prophet Isaiah (42:6) the Jewish people must be a ‘light to the nations’ and must proclaim to the Gentile this covenant and spiritual path.
In order to properly cover the material that deals with the Gentile's covenant relationship with G-d and the laws that they are commanded to keep, we must turn to the writings of the Torah authorities, the holy Rabbinic Sages. Throughout its history Christianity has been overtly hostile to the holy Rabbis, going so far as to portray them in their ‘New Testament’ as vile religious hypocrites (ref. Matt.23:13-33, Luke 11:42-52). This slanderous portrayal of the Pharisees has been the cause of two thousand years of virulent Christian anti-Semitism. Yet, worse than this, this mean spirited evil portrayal has blocked the regular G-d loving and G-d fearing Christian from ever coming to study and see for themselves the beauty, wisdom, and Divine inspiration and favor that blessed G-d has bestowed upon these, His holy, maligned servants.
Therefore, in order to proceed and to expect my Gentile readers to accept the Divinely inspired words of the holy Sages of Israel, I feel it necessary to begin by documenting the Biblical source of Rabbinic authority. It is imperative that the Gentile world recognize that the true Bible teaches that the Rabbinic Sages, and no one else, are the true ‘keeper of the keys of the kingdom’. What the Rabbis bind on earth is bound in Heaven and what they, and they alone, permit on earth is permitted in Heaven. A Christian reader will recognize these words as the authority that is claimed by the Church (ref. Matt. 16:19). Yet, according to the Bible, this authority can only be wielded by a judge of the Torah. Only they are given the authority to interpret G-d's holy Word. So, to their Biblical source of authority do we turn.
The Biblical Authority of the Rabbinic Judge
There are so many interpretations of the Bible. In essence, the entire religions of Christianity and Islam are interpretations of the Bible. One need not be a sage to see that many Biblical interpretations are mutually exclusive of one another. So what is the Bible really saying? Who has the right to decide?
We are not the first persons to ask this question. This question has been around since Biblical times. G-d, in His infinite wisdom, knew that His spiritual Word could be understood and misunderstood in a number of different ways. Therefore, G-d Himself, ordained the proper way as to how His Word was and is to be properly understood.
G-d's Word contains His laws. Yet, the details of many of these laws are not clearly stated. G-d obviously knew this and thus ordained the law as to what the proper form for defining and directing Biblical legislation is to be. This law is found in Deut. 17:9-12.
"When a matter of judgment is hidden from you, between blood and blood, between verdict and verdict...you shall rise up and ascend to the place that HaShem shall choose. You shall come to the priest, levite or judge who will be in those days; you shall inquire and they will tell you the word of judgment. You shall do according to the word that they will tell you...and you shall be careful to do according to everything they will teach you. According to the teaching that they will teach you and according to the judgment that they will say to you, shall you do, you shall not deviate from the word that they will tell you, right or left. And the man that will act with willfulness, not listening...to the judge, that man shall die, and you shall destroy the evil from among Israel."
What is to be done when there is a question of law or Biblical understanding that has no clear answer? The L-rd directed the people to turn to the priest, levite and judge who shall be in those days (i.e., the days when the question arises). Priests and levites were the servants of the Tabernacle (and later of the Temple). As such, they were viewed as being THE experts as to the meanings of the Torah and the Oral tradition. Yet, they were not alone in this position. Even the layman of the different tribes of the house of Israel were expected to study and know the ways of the Torah. The select of this group also could serve in a judicial fashion so as to ‘interpret’ the Law of G-d for the new or changing circumstances, in accordance to Deut. 17. This is the law as outlined in the Bible.
This law, in my opinion, becomes one of the most important in light of evolving Jewish history. As is known, nothing ever stays the same. Times and lives are always in a constant state of change. Even in the generation of Joshua, after the death of Moses, changes began to occur and questions regarding the law arose.
The Bible commands the Jewish people to perform a number of different commandments, the violation of which could lead to severe punishment, including a death penalty. Yet, even with the severity of laws such as the refraining from work on the holy Sabbath, no details are given as to the practical applications of correct compliance. This can be problematic. If the law does not stipulate what is permitted and what is forbidden, how can it possibly be observed? Already in the days of Moses it is recorded (Num.15:32-36) that a man, who went out to pick up sticks on the Sabbath, was punished by stoning. This is quite a sentence. Where do we read in the Bible that the ‘work’ that this man did was forbidden? We don’t. The Bible doesn’t say it. Nonetheless, when he performed his forbidden deed it was recognized by everyone as a violation of the Sabbath. He was imprisoned awaiting response to an inquiry to G-d as to what should be this man's punishment. The penalty came back and it was most severe.
What is learned from this and many other Biblical episodes is that not everything is recorded in the Bible. The written Torah given at Mt. Sinai was never meant to be a comprehensive code which one could just read and follow. On the contrary, the written Torah raises many questions as to interpretation. For example in Deut. 6, G-d commands the Jewish people to take His words and to ‘bind them upon your hands and that they shall be frontlets between your eyes’. This is the commandment that ordains the practice of wearing tefillin (small Torah scroll portions encased in two leather boxes that are strapped to the head and arm of Jewish adult males during certain prayer services). As is clear from the Biblical text, the written Torah does not clearly say what these Tefillin are, how they are to be made or how or when they are to be worn. How then, when the children of Israel received these words from Moses, did they interpret them? How did Moses understand them? Why didn’t he write down more for us to understand?
The answers to these questions are really more simple than complicated. Based on Deut. 17, when a question arose regarding a Biblical command whose practice was unclear, the people would ask the judicial authorities for specific instruction. In the days of Moses, the Jewish people of course asked him. Moses in turn asked G-d. G-d told Moses and Moses told the people. These words were never written down. In those days there was no need to write these words down. And why? Because the written Torah had spoken and the oral interpretation was generally known. Therefore, only with regards to new things were there any questions. What we learn from all this is the absolute necessity of the existence of the Oral tradition and of its absolute authority as to the meaning and practice of the written Word.
As mentioned above, it is the authority of the Oral tradition that truly outlines correct Biblical practice and interpretation. No one has the authority to claim himself to be a judge and interpreter of the Bible unless certain criteria are met. As with any profession since Biblical days, judges had to be both learned and ordained. In Biblical days, there existed the Temple anointing, performed by a priest with anointing oil. Since the destruction of the Temple and the cessation of that ritual form, other forms have been instituted to take its place. And where did the authority come from to change such an age old ritual? From Deut. 17, of course. The authority of the judges of the law is clearly stated to be throughout all generations. Therefore, throughout Biblical times, Rabbinic times and to this day, just as the Biblical laws of the ten commandments are still in force, so is the Biblical commandment of judicial authority.
This understanding of the authority of the Biblical judges, who throughout history have been called the Rabbis, is most important. For without a full appreciation, respect and acceptance of their authority, the Bible and the other written and Oral Words of G-d will always remain closed to the general public. And this must not be so!
The true under-standings of the Bible have been lost to the gentile people from the beginnings of their reading the Bible. Remember, the Bible was written by and given to Jews. G-d's revelation to the children of Israel is unique and exclusive, as it is written, ‘He did not do so for any other nation; such judgments, they know them not.’ (Psalms 147:20). Yet, a gentile must not walk away from these words thinking that he/she therefore has no place in the word and plan of G-d. As has been already said above, the Gentile plays an essential role in the general scheme of things. Just what that is has been revealed to the Rabbis and only through them to the Gentile nations. As the judges of G-d's law and word, this is their authority here upon the earth.