(by Christopher Fredrickson)
One of the biggest controversies in the Hebrew Roots is the "Call no man Rabbi" controversy. First of all, anyone at Kehilat Melech Mashyach will tell you that I do not like being called "rabbi" because of the fact that many don't understand what that means, and secondly I was born with the name Christopher and I am more comfortable being called Christopher as opposed to Rabbi Eh'bed Baw'naw. But I want to look at the verse with you in Matthew 23 which reads (in the original Aramaic):
"And they love the chief places at festivals and the chief seats at the assembly. And a greeting in the streets, and to be called Rabbi by men. But you should not be called ‘My Great One’ for there is only one Who is Great and you are all brothers. And do not call yourself Father for your Father is one who is in heaven. And you should not be called leaders, because one is your leader, the Mashiyach. But he who is greatest among you, let him be a servant"
The aramaic word there is spelled רב without the י normally the word is spelled רבי for that of rabbi. But we have the י missing. The י, as noted by the sages symbolizes humility given that it is the smallest letter in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages. The י is also made of three parts; a prong pointing towards heaven and a prong towards earth and an intermediary part to bind the two together. Without the י the word, as found in Matthew 23 becomes רב meaning "great one" because they have lost their י symbolizing their humility. But in the previous verse we see the י. Showing that obviously Yeshua was speaking of two different things. And the verse should be properly translated as "call no man great one" as it is properly translated in the Aramaic English New Testament from the original manuscripts of the New Testament. Also if it said "Rabbi" then the verses would be conflicting in another facet as well.
It is important to note that a rabbi and moreh are not the same thing. A moreh is a "teacher" which many in the hellenized tradition think that a Rabbi is. But a rabbi does teach however his job as noted in the torah is to be a servant unto the people which is another reason why the י is within the word רבי (rabbi). It is not equivalent to a christian pastor. People think a rabbi is the jewish version of a pastor but it is not the case. In fact the main job of the rabbi is to be a servant to those in his community and in his schul. Take for example, I was told a couple in the congregation needed some furniture moved, instead of them calling a moving service I knew it was my job as the Rabbi of Kehilat Melech Mashyach to help them move their furniture because it is my job to be a servant.
This is a part of my job description, to do so and not ask for anything in return but rather to increase in my tzedakah and chesed. Thus verse 11 of Matthew 23 would be in direct conflict with the term rabbi, because essentially it would be saying "don't help the people in anyway whatsoever". That is in direct opposite of the message Yeshua was giving.
Some also take the stance that "Rabbi" simply means teacher, though as noted earlier the word "moreh" means teacher and a person receives their "moreh" ordination before they receive their rabbinical license. But lets say for the sake of argument they are correct and that Yeshua (as noted in some really horrible translations) say "call no man teacher", well we have a whole slew of problems from that translation if Yeshua indeed said that, which he did not.
"And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others"
"Act according to whatever they teach you (the Shoftim) and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left"
"And Hashem has placed in the Kehilah first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance and different kinds of tongues"
(1 Corinthians 12:28)
"Ezra the teacher of the law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion........."
"In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food"
The list goes on and on and on, to where this very premise would have been a contradiction of the Torah, the Nevi'im, the Ketuvim and the writings of Rav Sha'ul if this were indeed the case. So either the "lone wolves" have Matthew 23 out of context or the Torah, the writings and the prophets as well as the emissaries of Yeshua were all liars and incorrect because of one verse. But the question is, if this were true then Yeshua would have corrected all the others who called him Rabbi in John 1:38, John 1:49, John 3:2, and John 3:26, so to the lone wolf; Yeshua not only said "call no man Rabbi" but apparently he also changed his mind a lot, which is not the case.
We can also look at the text of the Khabouris Codex, and lets also make note that the english translator did not render the verse correctly but you can still see the different spellings between the two times the english renders the same word:
As well as the photocopy of the original manuscript:
What also shows in the original Aramaic is how Yeshua was using word play in many instances when he also makes note of the word "Father" now the thing that is interesting is there is a higher and lesser form of the word "Father" in Aramaic. One is "Ab" and the other "Abba" it is the difference between Aveinu and Av in Hebrew. Now if Yeshua were saying this as well, then we would again have a huge problem if he was literally saying to not call your male parent "father" in fact it would break the ten commandments as it is stated:
"Honor your father and mother, that your days be prolonged in the land that Hashem your God has given you"
Now it really comes full circle in Hebaric wordplay and idiom, when Yeshua makes note of the premise found within the yod in verse 11. When he says:
"But he who is greatest among you, let him be a servant"
In this verse he shows the symbolism of "rab" (Great One) being dependent upon the insertion of the humility found within the yod. So one strives to be "eh'bed" (servant) and he who does so for the sake of Hashem and for the sake of others through genuine humility and genuine servitude then he will be exalted by that of Hashem. As the sages say in Pirkei Avos:
"Antignos of Socho received [the transmission] from Shimon the Righteous. He used to say: Do not be as servants who serve the Master to receive reward. Rather, be as servants who serve the Master not to receive reward. And let the fear of heaven be upon you."
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah the North American Rebbe of Ani Judaism