TAAM: Torah Answers for Anti-Missionaries


This page deals with Torah Answers in the category:

Objections from Anti-missionaries : Based on Rabbinic Authority

(Last Update:  16-jan-12 )

Contents

1. "We believe in 'fences' to protect us from violating Torah [by discussing this material]. To observe these fences is to obey G-d."
2. "We follow an unbroken line of Torah handed down from Sinai.  You are breaking with this line, so you are not really keeping Torah."
3. "We have an obligation to keep unity in the Jewish community. People with unacceptable opinions about Jesus cannot be part of us."
4. "My rabbi has forbidden me to talk to you - it's against Halacha."
5. "Others have also told me to 'ask G-d' for myself about Yeshua. Why would G-d want to speak to me one-on-One? This concept is not Jewish."
6. "You have misinterpreted the Torah and Prophets. You need to learn with a rabbi in order to understand what you read."


1. "As a Torah Jew, I believe the chumrot [prohibitions] and g'zerot [decrees] were added as "fences", to protect us from violating Torah dereita [written Torah]. Taking care to stay within those fences is part of obedience to Torah, and ultimately obedience to G-d."

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The anti-missionary who offered this objection added that this was why he could not discuss the material posted at the TAAM site.  He referred to a rabbinic "fence" forbidding certain lines of questioning to all but specially trained anti-missionaries.  He implied that this prohibition was erected for the protection of the Jewish people, so that they would not become "heretics".  First we will address the general use of Torah fences by the rabbinic community, then we will apply our conclusions to the fence against "forbidden discussions".

The concept of "Torah she-ba'al-peh" (Oral Torah) is essential for practical Jewish observance, and it's an element of Torah that we honor in principle. We also see Torah fences as a protection... when they may actually keep us from violating Torah commands. Some examples are: avoiding media entertainment that causes you to think impure thoughts, avoiding a discussion of someone's misdeeds to reduce the risk of "lashon hara" (gossip), or the tradition of eating our last bite of hametz several hours before sunset on Erev Pesach to make sure we abstain from leaven for the full 7 days as commanded. 

There are other decrees, however, that do not protect Torah commands, and sometimes even forbid things that WERE commanded in Tanach.  For example, rabbinic authority forbids playing any musical instrument on the Shabbat.  Some believe it's a gesture of mourning for the lost Temple, but this is not factual.  The reason, according to the Shulchan Arukh, isthe prohibition against "tikkun" [repair or adjustment] which is one of the activities comprising "melachah" [work forbidden on Shabbat].  More precisely, it is taught that playing an instrument (not a Shabbat violation) is a rabbinic fence to protect us from tuning it (presumed a form of "tikkun", therefore a Shabbat violation).  But this precaution itself received the status of "Torah dereita" when a second "fence" was added to protect it: Even playing an instrument that doesn't need to be tuned (such as a harmonica or drum) is still considered a Shabbat violation.

Why the "fence around the fence"?  Banning all instrumental music on Shabbat is defended as a protection for Torah-ignorant Jews, who might see someone playing a non-tunable instrument and be tempted to play a tunable instrument.  But following this logic, Shabbat-faithful Jews should not use a Shabbat clock to control their lights, so that the ignorant will not be encouraged to turn their lights on during Shabbat.  Nor should they eat food on Shabbat that was cooked beforehand, lest the ignorant be tempted to cook during Shabbat.

A more serious problem than the logic of this ruling is its direct contradiction of Psalm 92, which URGES us to use instruments on the Shabbat in praise to G-d, and particularly those instruments that sometimes need to be tuned:

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A Psalm, a Song for the Sabbath day. It is good to give thanks to the L-RD, and to sing to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night, with the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music on the lyre. - Ps.92:1-4

There is an established rabbinic teaching that the sages closer to the Sinai Revelation were of a higher "darga" [spiritual quality] and had a more accurate understanding of Torah than the generations who came after them.  The only valid reason for changing what earlier sages have decreed is because of some fundamental change in our world, or in the needs of the people, which requires a new or revised ruling.

Applied to the above Psalm, David's spiritual standing should place him above reproach in teaching us about proper Shabbat observance.  Additionally, those early sages who approved this Psalm when the Tehillim were collected are a higher authority than the authors of the Shulchan Arukh. The same superior position should apply to the sages who approved this Psalm to be included in the Siddur [Jewish prayerbook], to be read on Shabbat.  It cannot be that stringed instruments in David's kingdom never needed tuning -- but if we wanted to argue that, we would have to ask why the rabbis didn't preserve and promote that kind of instrumental music on Shabbat, if only to follow the example of one of Israel's most devoted Tsaddikim of all time.

Instead, this "Torah fence" puts Torah Jews in the dilemma of denying King David, who wrote "it is good", and not a Torah violation, to praise G-d on the Shabbat with stringed instruments.  Even worse, it forces observant Jews into a weekly contradiction every Shabbat, when we recite Psalm 92 together and endorse a forbidden act.

How did our Torah guardians come to put someone who would follow a Tanach admonition into the category of a "Shabbat-breaker"? This irony is due to a certain period in history when a critical change took place in the orderly progression of Oral Torah.(Go here to read more.)  By the time the Shulchan Arukh was written (the 1500s CE), the rabbinic establishment had agreed to overrule the higher authority of the Psalm regarding stringed instruments.

In answer to the reasonable objections that the banning of all musical instruments in Shabbat praise does not function as a "fence" to protect anything, the rabbinic response is that Torah-faithful Jews are obligated to keep the ban anyway, simply because of the principle that rabbinic authority was ordained by G-d (Deut.17:8-13).  We address that claim in the next objection.

But unlike the prohibition against musical instruments on Shabbat, the "fence" against unrestricted discussion about Yeshua is breaking down. Whether it's because rabbinic leaders are feeling more confident about their disciples being able to resist the "heresy" with the help of anti-missionary resources, or because access to global networks and greater mobility makes it harder to control who their disciples interact with, there is a trend towards engaging Yeshua's Jewish disciples in dialog and debate.

This is a welcome development, especially since Judaism prides itself on open inquiry with no topic being off-limits.  Certainly an inquiry into RABBINIC teaching on a subject should be perfectly acceptable. That's why it was so odd to see the "Torah fence" invoked as an excuse for dropping the subject.  On the other hand, this is a recurring excuse; several of the objections in this section rely on either general or specific rabbinic prohibitions against dealing with the material on this website.

If not Torah, then what ARE they protecting?

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2. "We in the orthodox community are following an unbroken line of Torah that was handed down all the way back from Moshe at Sinai.  As a follower of Yeshua, you are breaking with this line of authority, therefore you are not really keeping Torah as you claim to be."

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This claim to authority theoretically has support from the dereita ("Torah she-b'ktav" or written Torah):

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If any matter is too difficult for you for justice, between bloodshed and bloodshed, between judgment and judgment, and between striking and striking, matters of dispute in your gates, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the L-RD your God will choose.  And you shall come to the Levitical priests and to the judge who will be [serving] in those days, and you shall inquire, and they will declare to you the matter [or, word] of justice [or, statute]. And you shall do according to the word which they declare to you from that place which the L-RD chooses; and you shall be careful to do according to all that they teach you. 

According to the law which they teach you, and concerning the statute which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left.  And the man who will do presumptuously to not listen to the priest who stands there to serve the L-RD your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; and you shall purge the evil from Israel.  And all the people will hear and fear, and will not act presumptuously again. - Deut.17:8-13

We see in fact that the authority given to oral Torah is very strong, and so is the punishment for rebelling against it.  Therefore we are obligated to be very sure that the authority we are following is indeed from a Torah teacher or judge "who stands there to serve G-d".

And immediately we run into a problem. The rabbinic authority of today does not necessarily "stand there to serve G-d".  It accepts and encourages some practices passed down from earlier generations, which Moshe Rebbenutaught us wasin fact contrary to G-d's Torah.

This tells us that someone in the generations between Moshe and our contemporary sagesmust have decided to "turn right or left", and "do presumptuously".  But rather than "purge the evil from Israel", the Jewish community elevated such men to leadership and followed them.

We don't even have to go back to written Torah to find this rebellion.  Some of the halacha today ignores previous rabbinic authority, as do some teachings about G-d and His Messiah.   If we want to truly keep the above commandment and honor an "unbroken chain" of rabbinic authority, we need to go back to the last sages who faithfully kept the teachings of Torah, before that chain was broken.

Failure to do this results in continuing to support the schizophrenic Torah that currently characterizes orthodox Jewish teaching and practice.

The schizophrenia dates back to the ruling in the landmark case called "the oven of Akhnai", which used a Torah verse to give rabbinic authority priority over prophecy  and other words from Heaven: "It [this commandment] is not in heaven..." (Deut.30:12) 

However, this passage goes on: "Nor is it beyond the sea..." (v.13).  If "standing to serve G-d" had really been the foundation of this rabbinic ruling, the rest of the verse would have been obeyed as well.  The sages living in Israel would have had priority over anyone else living "beyond the sea".  Instead, the Babylonian Talmud became the favored source for halachic guidance, even though it was acknowledged to be inferior. There is no justification for appealing to one half of a Torah precept while disobeying the other half.

As if that were not enough, the clear Torah command, "Do not follow the majority to pervert justice," (Ex. 23:2) was inverted to read, After the majority one MUST incline (Baba Mezi'a 59b). Yet this majority immediately began perverting justice: first they excommunicated R. Eliezer b. Hyrcanus, the most oft-quoted rabbi in the Talmud. Later they supported a ruthless warrior named Bar Kochba, who shed innocent blood and eventually brought a bloodbath on the Jewish people.

Is it too harsh to say that the rabbinic establishment of today has abandoned Torah from Sinai?  Consider this quote from a booklet that was mass-mailed to Israeli homes in January 2004, from a yeshiva headed by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, a prolific author and teacher who follows the teachings of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook (a leading light in the religious Zionist community), and considers himself a disciple of Rabbi Zvi Yehudah HaKohen Kook, head of Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem.  In this booklet (translated from Hebrew), it is clearly acknowledged that the sages not only added to the commands of Torah, but placed their own commands higher than the words of Torah :

In the directives of the hachamim there is an expression on our part to add (to Torah), and to take on ourselves further commands, in order to be sanctified and come closer to perfection. From this standpoint, 'the words of the scribes are more beloved than the words of the Torah'.*  And in order that they (the people of Israel) would not disdain the words of the hachamim, the hachamim strengthened their words above the words of the Torah.

[*quoting Rav Kook's Orot Ha-Torah 1:2, which in turn quotes Midrash Rabbah/Song of Songs, written (probably late 700s CE) by Amoraim in Judea who were quoting the Jerusalem Talmud. The commentators interpret Song of Songs 1:2, "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for Your love is better than wine," as referring to the words from the sages' mouths (plural) being better than Torah from Sinai.]

Here a respected line of rabbis clearly explains why the sages first began to exalt their words "above" those of Torah. It was not to make sure Israel would obey Torah more completely, but to make sure Israel would honor and obey them!

To "take on ourselves further commands" - and especially to make those added commands stronger than the Torah - is to disobey Torah itself:

You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the L-RD your God which I command you. - Deut.4:2

Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it. - Deut.12:32

Every word of G-d is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.Do not add to His words, or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar. - Prov.30:5-6

It's easy to understand how taking away from Torah can prevent us from keeping it, but note that adding to the Torah commands can do the same.  This is indeed what happens when the human additions are exalted above the words of the Torah itself: where the two conflict, the "more beloved" commandments of the sages will overrule the (less beloved) commandments of the L-rd. 

As far back as second Temple days, Yeshua the Messiah identified this error in the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees, the forerunners of the rabbinic community:

...you invalidated the word of G-d for the sake of your tradition.  You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: "THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN." - Matt.15:6-9 (quoting Isaiah 29:13)

It is crucial for Torah-faithful Jews to recognize the spiritual damage caused by those of our sages who invalidated Torah in order to validate themselves.  We must seek "tikkun" [rectify it] by returning to the teachings of those who kept the Torah of G-d intact (and who perhaps even lost the approval of the rabbinic community by doing so). Only then can we be sure that we are following an unbroken chain from Sinai.

For more information about the gaps in this "unbroken chain", go here.

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3. "We have an obligation to keep unity among the Jewish people. Faith in Jesus causes families to break up, and in history it has produced some of the worst antisemites. Our rabbis have the right idea - People who are asking disruptive and disturbing questions about Jesus should be excluded from the Jewish community."

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There are two issues here.  One is the tactic of blaming a truth-seeker for asking the "wrong" questions and disturbing people.  Any community that values "peace and quiet" over the truth will end up having neither, because truth has a way of leaking through closed doors... eventually causing more problems than if the doors had been open.  More important, if Judaism has the answer for every Torah-related question, why should there be "suspicious" questions, "forbidden" discussions, or censored rabbinic material?

The other issue is one of guilt. Many Jews who inwardly wonder about Yeshua are kept quiet because they feel like traitors to the Jewish people for even thinking such things. It's true that some Jewish converts to Christianity became notorious antisemites, or were very insensitive to the Jewish people in times of suffering.   But as we all know, there is real guilt and false guilt. There is also real innocence as opposed to a false confidence in one's innocence. And there's a simple Torah way to tell them apart:

Place yourself before G-d, the only True Judge, who knows not only your actions and thoughts, but your motives. Then trace the thread of the guilt you're sensing, follow it back to its source. If G-d is the one pronouncing you guilty, the thread will lead through Torah - ie, you will become conscious of a command of His that you have violated. (It's important to recognize that not everything claiming to be a "Torah command" is actually supported by the Torah given through Moshe at Sinai.  There are even some community traditions that have deliberately broken the chain leading back to real Torah.  You will have to do some "homework" - searching through the Torah and Prophets for yourself - to test what you have been told about commands.)

If you find that you are guilty before G-d, then you repent - and no excuses from a human source should change your mind about your guilt.

If the thread leads to some other source, and not to G-d, you are acquitted - and no condemnation from a human source should change your mind about your innocence.

The same can be done with Yeshua.  Stand him before G-d, and trace back the guilt that is attributed to him. Does Torah condemn him? Or is the source elsewhere?

It's obvious that this ought to be standard advice and practice for a community that embraces Torah. But in spite of the lip service given to G-d and Torah, community peer pressure has taken His place in passing judgment on many issues.  This itself is an ancient Jewish problem, and it afflicted the rabbinic community in Yeshua's day.

But though He had performed so many signs before them [Torah evidence of G-d's authority - Deut.18:18-22], yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke [Isa.53:1]: "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?"....

Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of G-d.
- John 12:37-43

It's an issue of basic Torah truth.  How much you really value Torah, and how much you truly desire G-d's approval, will be revealed by what you are willing to "pay" for it.  If you are dedicated to finding the Truth, you are assured of His blessing and help in giving you that knowledge of what is from Him. (...and if you can NOT be assured of that, then all of Tanach is a vain promise.) 

The obvious next step is to lay down your arguments and simply ask Him about Yeshua. You already know what the Jewish establishment says about him. You know what you have said about him (whether you can defend it or not). But who is he in G-d's eyes?

If you really, truly, want whatever or whoever is from G-d, you have nothing to fear by asking that. And no reason to run from His answer. 

If you fear man more than you fear G-d, you will back away from the entire question.  But know this:  Fearing anyone or anything more than G-d is the definition of idolatry.  

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4. "My rabbi has forbidden me to talk to you - it's against Halacha."

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Why should anyone be "forbidden" to discuss important Torah issues and discover the truth? If we are relating something that's true, then only people who cling to falsehoods will forbid discussion. If it's false, then people who cling to the truth will have no problem discussing - and debunking - whatever we say here.

Does Halacha have something to fear from unrestricted dialog?  If some ideas accepted as "Halacha" cannot stand up to scrutiny, are they worthy of the name? If some command or teaching is really not based on Torah, why are we calling it "Torah"? What exactly are we being asked to protect?

We propose the same rabbinic rationale that is used to convince unaffiliated Jews to return to Jewish practice: "na'aseh ve'nishma". They explain: "You can ask questions forever, and never assemble enough answers to totally satisfy you. This is because spiritual experience is just that: something that must be experienced. At some point you have to try what is being offered and see whether the thing is real. You first 'do' the mitzvot and then you 'hear' (understand) that Jewish life is fulfilling."

That's a viable option with Yeshua. Is He the missing factor that will "flip the switch" for the Jew seeking a living connection with the G-d of Israel? Are we right in claiming that He is G-d's answer for spiritual thirst and emptiness (in the Jew even more than the Gentile)? Is He the real Messiah, the culmination of all the promises G-d made to Israel? The Tanach sources need to be examined, but that is for your mind. Your spirit needs to experience -- to "taste and see" -- if this thing is of G-d or not.

There is a safe, halachic way to conduct such a test. Ask G-d to take it on Himself to oversee the experiment, and then ask Him to "introduce" you to Yeshua - as He knows him to be. Or not.

That will test two things at the same time: whether Yeshua is even there to be known (if not, nothing at all will happen and you be the same as before); and if he is there, whether G-d is willing to validate Yeshua (if not, He will certainly not allow you to experience anything that would mislead you).

If you do encounter Something, but at some later stage you come across something in the Torah of G-d that clearly forbids such a request, then you repent, like you would do with any other mistake done in ignorance.  The operative condition here is "Torah of G-d", because traditions of men claiming to teach Torah sometimes do violence to Torah itself.

NOTE: The Torah test is something the rabbis don't dare suggest to validate the orthodox lifestyle and the command package being sold as "Halacha", so let it be the proof that our trust in G-d's Torah is greater!

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5. "Others have told me to 'ask G-d' for myself about Yeshua. Why would G-d want to speak to me one-on-One?  I am part of the Klal, the congregation of Israel, and my destiny in found only in the Klal. I'm not saying I don't receive personal comfort at times from Tehillim, but what would G-d say to me alone, by myself? This concept is not Jewish."

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Curiously, the popular Jewish defense against Yeshua, "I don't need a mediator to connect with G-d," disappears when it comes to asking G-d about  Yeshua. Suddenly the objection is, "I can't connect with G-d all by myself."

The Jewish Scriptures are from G-d; and if we get no other message from the Torah, Prophets and Writings, it's that G-d does speak with individual men and women (and children too - 1 Samuel 3).  If modern Judaism cannotallow for the possibility ofG-d speaking to individuals today, and allow for Him doing it to whomever, whenever and however He chooses, then eitherG-d is not everything Torah claims He is, or Jewish tradition is misrepresenting G-d on this issue.

If we want to examine a real contradiction, we might ponder the Talmudic teaching (Sanh. 97a) that the time period we are now living in is considered to be "the era of theMessiah", a time when Tanach promises personal two-way communication with G-d as His Spirit is poured out (Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 3:1, Heb numbering). 

Even more, G-d explicitly promises two-way communication with anyone who will call out to Him with all their heart (Isa.58:9, 65:24; Jer.29:12-13; Zech.10:6). Can this be applied to an individual?  Absolutely. G-d says (Isa.58:9), "You [singular] will call and G-d will answer you [singular]...". Yetmanyteachersof Torah Judaisminsist that He never does any such thing, and they brand any Jew who claims to be in direct communication with G-d as arrogant or deluded.

Consider what a great affront this teaching is to G-d's character. 

What father continually addresses his family in a group, and isincapable or unwilling tospeak to his children as individuals one-on-one?  What father is ignorant of the need to speak to one of his kids privately, when there's a sensitive issue involved? IsG-d less of aFather than earthbound men, who are so limited in love and intheir knowledge of their childrencompared to Him? Are His promises through the Prophets, mentioned above, less dependable than the promises of a human father?If we have to choose sides, let G-d be judged as true and faithful - and let everyone else be the liars!

Whodecided that He no longer speaks to individuals?  And why did they decide that? 

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6. "You claim to see Yeshua in the Tanach, but Judaism teaches that you can't understand Torah and Prophets by yourself. "Aseh lecha Rav" ( Pirke Avot 1:6). You need to learn with a rabbi. And this is based on written Torah -
'So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them and they will declare to you... According to the terms of the law which they teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left.' (Deut.17:9-13)"

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This passage is indeed used by the rabbis to create an authority structure for themselves as teachers of Torah -- an authority that may not be challenged.  Rashi comments: "Even if they say that your right is left and your left is right; how much more so if they tell you that your right is right and your left is left."  And the commentaries on Rashi explain this as: "something traditionally permitted is forbidden, or something traditionally forbidden is permitted...even by greater sages than those presently ruling." 

This "ruling" authority is not just applied to the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, as the Deuternomy passage indicates by "judges in office "; it is expanded by modern commentators on Rashi to include the rabbis who refused to hear G-d's voice telling them they were wrong (Baba Mezi'a 59b, compared with Ps.95:7). 

Jews who believe they are allowed to study Torah and Prophets only with a rabbi (or with the aid of rabbinic commentaries) may be surprised to learn that the passage being used to enforce this dependence does NOT make it an obligation for us to consult a "judge" in order to understand what we are reading in the Torah and Prophets.  It was for halachic cases that proved too difficult.  Read the command in its proper context here

In fact, we are told (ironically, in a verse used to establish rabbinic authority) that the written Torah is definitely NOT in the category of needing a consultation with judges or rabbis in order to understand it.

For this commandment which I command you today is NOT too difficult for you, nor is it far off.  It is not in heaven, to say who will go up for us to heaven and take it for us so that we will hear it and do it? And it is not beyond the sea, to say who will go over for us to beyond the sea and take it for us so that we will hear it and do it? For the word is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it. - Deut.30:11-14

This rabbinically inspired obligation to study Tanach only with a rabbi succeeded in creating a circular system of validation for what Tanach says.  It is a closed system that will only share its authority with those who are already committed to "incline after the majority" in the system concerning what Tanach says (Baba Metzi'a 59b).

This system, as we know, has categorically rejected the Messianic claims of Yeshua of Nazareth. In another twist of irony, to support that view the system has broken its cardinal rule to "incline after the majority" rabbinic opinion on the meaning of Isaiah 53, and the Divine nature and attributes of Messiah

When Torah Jews seek clarification on this remarkable dissonance, the system instructs them, "Never mind." 

Jews who submit to a rabbi in their Torah study are either forced to live with confusion (the ruling is "left is right is left is... forget it"), or they are forced to secretly search for answers on their own. Or, concluding that the tradition of rabbinic authority is a lie, they may move to the other extreme and toss out submission to Torah in any form, which is not a solution that pleases G-d.

Now with all that said, we DO follow the admonishment, "Aseh lecha Rav".  Our personal Rabbi is the Messiah.

The simple truth is that only the Messiah could be a Rav worthy of the kind of trust that Torah Jews are expected to bestow on their teacher. Only Someone who is full of the Ruach HaKodesh will never mix up "right" and "left", and even when it might seem that way (Isa.55:8-9), we can trust that G-d's ways will be vindicated.  Nor will the Messiah bow to human pressure and follow a majority in shutting down G-d's voice. 

More than anyone in history, He "stands to serve G-d".  Only a Son who is completely in union with the Father will always strengthen our ability to hear the Voice of G-d.  He will not compete by exalting His words above the Torah. And unlike a rabbi, a man no better than ourselves, our (older) Jewish tradition DOES teach that Moshiach is beyond human failings, a unique Son who was "begotten" by G-d with a full measure of the Spirit. It's the teachers who don't know the Prophets (Ps. 2:7; Isaiah 11:1-3; 42:1-8) who have trouble with this concept.

 

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