Messianics and the Talmud

Messianics and the Talmud

What is your position concerning the
Talmud? Should Messianic people consider the Talmud as containing important
information for their study of the Scriptures? I’m J.K. McKee, editor of
Messianic Apologetics. If you are new to the channel, be sure to subscribe for
future teachings and updates. It is fair to say that not enough of today’s
Messianic people are familiar with the role of extra-Biblical literature in
their understanding of the Bible itself. While those from Orthodox Jewish
backgrounds who have come to Messiah faith might have the most experience in
dealing with literature like the Talmud, your average Messianic person has little
to no knowledge about the Talmud or associated resources. When you find
someone communicating that Yeshua of Nazareth opposed the traditions of the
Rabbis, and opposed the Talmud, then it is obvious that the person making such
remarks does not know what he or she is talking about. While there were certainly
various oral traditions and customs circulating in the Judaism of Yeshua’s
day, in the First Century C.E., most especially those followed by the Pharisees– the Talmud a formal body of work would
not arrive onto the scene until the Second Century at the very earliest, but
most probably much later. What are some of the things that led to the production of the Talmud? The Mishnah is the transcribed or written down form of what was considered to be or comprise the Oral Torah by the First-Second
Centuries C.E. Following the destruction of Jerusalem, the surviving
Jewish Rabbis wrote down the Pharisaic oral traditions that guided their Torah
observance. The Mishnah was composed by around 200 C.E. in a unique form of
Hebrew. The Mishnah forms the basis of Jewish law, being divided into six
distinct segments: agriculture, the appointed times, women, damages, holy things, and purities. The Mishnah certainly records the history and the procedure of how things were done in the Temple and much of the halachah or
Torah application that Yeshua and the Apostles would have been exposed to in Judea. The Mishnah is an invaluable historical
resource that gives us much insight into how the Torah was followed in the First
Century, and there are many good wisdom sayings in it. The Talmud is actually a
broad term describing two principal bodies of
literature: the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud. Both of these works are composed in a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic and span across two centuries
from the Second to Fourth Centuries C.E. The Babylonian Talmud largely represents the interpretation and traditions of Eastern Judaism from Babylon building upon the
Mishnah, and the Jerusalem Talmud represents the views and traditions of
Judaism from Judea, although there are many, many areas of overlap between them. Reading through the Talmud can often be a very daunting task to the interpreter
who is unfamiliar with reading legal briefs. Much of the Talmud is compiled in
the form of “Rabbi X said in the name of Rabbi Y that Rabbi Z said…” Most who
examine the Talmud in any detail are religious scholars and teachers, whereas
your average layperson or interpreter will have to have a tractate pointed out
in a commentary or reference book so as to not get lost. According to Jewish tradition,
two Torahs were given to Moses on Mount Sinai: the written Torah (the
Pentateuch or Chumash), as well as the Oral Torah or explanations on how to perform
the Written Torah’s commandments. Such an Oral Torah is now written down in the
Mishnah, with the Talmud offering commentary. In
Orthodox Judaism both the Written Torah and Oral Torah hold equal status. In
Conservative and Reform Judaism, they comprise the basis of Jewish custom and
tradition, but are treated more as commentary and are flexible in terms of
modern-day application. For the Biblical scholar, Jewish literature such as the
Mishnah and Talmud, contain valuable sources of commentary, historical data,
philosophy, and even some spiritually edifying concepts. Because of their close
proximity in time to the Second Temple era, they are considered valid to use as
secondary and tertiary resources to aid in one’s reasoning through various
issues seen in the Bible (among other bodies of ancient literature). At the same
time the Mishnah and Talmud are also broad-sweeping collections, so one should expect
–particularly with the Talmud–one should expect there to be some internal
inconsistencies and differences of opinion among Rabbis. When the Talmud, in particular,
is treated as a wide body of commentary with many different
perspectives, then the interpreter should be able to employ it in a responsible
manner. When the Mishnah and Talmud are treated
as being Divinely inspired and authoritative the same as Holy Scripture, then we have problems. For the Messianic layperson,
one can encounter those who are greatly enamored with literature like the
Mishnah and Talmud, and who then make it their job to synthesize much of what is
seen in the Apostolic Writings with this material. While there are definitely
areas of overlap and content and agreement of perspective on various
issues, this is not a good way of employing the Mishnah and Talmud.
More concerning, however, are those who completely dismiss literature like the
Mishnah and Talmud specifically because it is believed that these bodies, and
others, of ancient Jewish literature were composed by those who consciously
rejected Yeshua of Nazareth, and hence have nothing edifying or positive to
communicate at all, on any subject to the Messiah’s followers. The bigger and more
complicated question, for certain, that today’s Messianic movement must answer, is Do Jewish non-Believers have anything useful to communicate to Messiah
followers? It is probably best that such a question be considered on a
case-by-case basis. But those who are fair do recognize that the Rabbis have
many useful things to say. If you all found this content enjoyable
and useful, please be sure to drop a thumbs up for this video. As always, we
thank you for your continued support of our ministry efforts. God bless and
shalom, and we’ll see you again with our next update!

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  1. Well done! A succinct and historically-accurate presentation of the ideas behind modern-day Halacha and the oral traditions of old which formed it.

    As for the question you pose at the end (10:39): as a Hebrew man who is not a follower of Yeshua, I feel that there is still something useful to communicate to followers of Yeshua. Whether or not that "something useful" is found in the Mishnah or Talmud – that's a judgement call. Like you said, there is wisdom there as well. Regardless of the oral teachings, I have found that true wisdom often has the capacity to transcend religions and faiths.

    How to connect with God – rabbi's words versus the Bible.

  3. You should look at some of Rabbi Tovia Singer's videos and try refuting his points biblically he destroyed my faith. I'd appreciate it if you consider this. God bless.

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