For many Christians who come to the realization that the Messiah kept and taught the written Torah of Hashem it is a life changing realization. There is a mode of immaturity that comes forth at that time where they see their Christian brethren as pagans and use straw man arguments as though it is scholarship. After a few years a majority grow out of this if they are truly seeking the will of the Creator. The same thing is true when they realize that Yeshua HaNotzri also taught the oral Torah. This understanding for many reinvigorates their fire and takes them back to how they felt with their original revelation. But there is a proper way to approach this.
As a Lapid Jewish rabbi, the oral torah and the words of the sages are a huge part of our faith. Many who listen to my radio program, or download the podcast version or watch the videos on Vimeo or YouTube or this website are familiar with the way I teach. But also at the same time, I have also seen the dangers of being overzealous for the oral torah without proper balance. Let me explain.
Often a person gets immersed in this "new revelation" of the Oral law and the sages, and it is a vast and amazing amount of researching and knowledge. The issue I have seen is many jump into these things too quickly and they jump right into the deep end before going into the kiddie pool. Before long they are overtaken and they then do not focus on the written word and the Brit Chadasha collects dust on the shelf. They are immersed in Talmud, Tosefta, and other works. What then happens is that because of the joy found in this new revelation of the oral law they did not accept before they totally and completely immerse themselves in this world and they then deny the deity of Mashiach and the later ultimately deny Mashiach. The question then is do we then dismiss the Oral Law and the Sages? Chas v'Shalom (G-d forbid).
One of the things I advocate is for new believers to have a respect for the works of the Talmud and the sages but not to jump in head first. If you can afford the works have them ready on your bookshelf for when you are ready for them. But I would say, let them collect dust until that time. I would say to start out with the Complete Jewish Study Bible. Within there, there are footnotes all throughout the Bible from the Oral Law and the Sages. This Bible does an amazing job of helping people to have a healthy respect for the Oral Law and the Sages without causing them to drown. This is where a person should start.
We should ultimately be reminded of the letters of Paul of Tarsus to the Romans and the Galatians. The Romans and the Galatians had people trying to get the believers to convert to full-fledged Judaism and immerse them in oral law. Notice that Paul took a "walk before you run" approach. We need to ultimately understand these positions of Paul. I would greatly suggest a person read Dr Mark Nanos' books on the subject, his works "The Mystery of Romans" and "Paul Within Judaism" are two books everyone should have on their shelves before they dive into Oral Law. I would also suggest D Thomas Lacaster's book "The Epistle to the Galatians".
It is important to understand that our Christian brethren are kosher, most of the Hebrew Roots movement and the Messianic faith's don't want to accept this because they want to grow a club through One Torah Theology which is a very dangerous and unbiblical ideal. Salvation is not through the Oral Torah, and it is not even through the Written Torah it is through Mashiach and through maintaining shalom. Dr Mark Kinzer speaks a lot about bi-lateral ecclesiology in his book "Post Missionary Messianic Judaism". Now, I don't agree totally with bi-lateral ecclesiology 100% but I do 90%. There are good premises within that book and Kinzer's view that mirror the words of Paul and Dr Nanos. A person should read these books mentioned above and then be in prayer about where it is G-d wants you to take the next step in your observance.
At this point as well a person needs to stray from what it is I call "internet theology" there are a lot of misquotes from the Talmud and other sources of Rabbinic Judaism online and they are the ones often quoted. Some are just flat out lies. One book has caused these lies to make their way into the mainstream. The book "Jesus in the Talmud" by Paul Shafer has made claims that the Talmud says Yeshua is boiling in excrement per Gotten 57b when in actuality it says Baalim is boiling in excrement. Many of the lies and misquotes of the Talmud towards Yeshua people have gotten from this book and Shafer has been shunned by the scholarly community because of his misquotes from the Talmud and flat out lies about it and his heavy anti-semitism. But Shafer's odd theology has become mainstream on the internet. So, I encourage people to purchase peer reviewed scholarly materials such as the ones mentioned above.
I also suggest in terms of looking at what publishers to purchase from, I would say First Fruits of Zion's stuff you can trust because it is peer reviewed and they help a person to have a proper balance of the written Torah and the Brit Chadasha as well as the Oral Law. Their Torah Club volumes, "Shadows of the Messiah", "Chronicles of the Messiah" and "Depths of the Torah" I highly endorse and I would say to spend maybe 3 years going through these three Torah club sets when you are at this point.
These steps I suggest because of the fact a person needs to be trained that whenever you start reading the words of the oral torah and the sages to be making the connections to Brit Chadasha. Making those connections is important and FFOZ, with their Torah Club sets do an amazing job at helping people to do that and it trains them to be able to fulfill mitzvos in a halakhic kosher way while being able to bring it back around to Yeshua. This is so important.
When I assembled by book the Rabbinic Gospel of Mark, I said that this book is not for everyone and it should not be for those young in their walk because it will cause their brains to explode with the over 320 footnotes from the sages and the oral law in the footnotes of the Gospel of Mark, and I maintain that. But also at the same time, it was assembled for the reason of helping those learn halakha in a kosher way and being fixated on Yeshua while they study the words in the Oral Torah and the Sages. This is so important.
Once the mind is grounded in finding Yeshua and his halakha in these writings. I would then say there are a variety of Chumashim that would be helpful as well as other commentaries. Such as the Gutnick Chumash, The Baal HaTurim Chumash, the Artscroll Onkelos set, the Stone Edition Tanach, and the Chumash with Talmud from Artscroll. I would also suggest if one finds themselves to be more align with the halakha of Breslov to get the set of Rebbe Nachman's Torah. At this time, one should check to make sure they are Yeshua centered. If they feel they are more oral torah centered then they should back off for another year and revisit Torah club for another year with another set of Torah club from FFOZ.
After this, one should study Shulchan Aruch and the Mishna section of Talmud. For these are the passages of universal halakha in every sect of Judaism and are the rulings of the Sanhedrin the written Torah tells us to observe. Take it slow, a chapter of Shulchan Aruch a week or 4 mishnas a week. One should not be forbidden at this point to study Gemara and Tanya in the Talmud at this time but it should not be their focus. If the Gemara and Tanya help with greater clarity in terms of the Mishna then it is helpful. If it is still confusing then try learning Shulchan Aruch. I have been doing a weekly set of videos every week that is free on Vimeo and YouTube on Shulchan Aruch and keeping it Yeshua centered. This may be a good start on this area of study.
There are other steps that come after this all the way up to kabbalah studies. But it is also important to note that one's favor from G-d does not come one's intellect, one's level of study, or even how many halakhic mitzvos one fulfills daily. Because one may have become a full convert like myself to Judaism, or if one who is born Jewish, we have no greater share in the Olam Haba than those who haven't. For the Talmud says that a B'nei Noach can be just as lofty in the eyes of Hashem as a Baal HaTorah.
A person mustn't engage in debates over levels of observance with others who are a part of the Biblical faiths of Judaism or Christianity. Us Lapid Jews realize it is not for everyone to be like us. Some belong in the Christian church and connect with Hashem in that way, some connect with Hashem though the Messianic faith, and some with our faith. It is not our job to have people join our sect of belief, we are just here for those who see this way of belief as aligning with where they want to go and where they think they fit in. That's it. For both Paul and R' Bachya talked about how the Torah of life can be the Torah of death. What gives life in my observance and in my faith may be bondage to someone else, and that is ok. Not everyone should be like me or others associated with the Lapid Jewish faith. We are evangelical for one thing, we are evangelical for Yeshua, not the Oral Torah or the Sages. But our reverence for those things are what it is we use for our evangelism for Yeshua, but we only do so if we walk out what it is we quote. We don't use the Oral Torah for solely evangelical reasons, we only do so if we are walking it out as to not be hypocrites and to be earnest and honest in our beliefs.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah the North American Rebbe of Ani Judaism