(by Christopher Fredrickson aka Rabbi Eh'bed Baw'naw)
The Torah pursuant lifestyle is often times a juggling act and a roller coaster at time. But above all else it is a balancing act that our human nature at times causes us to veer too far to the left or to the right. If we are unable to become humbled in our walk and realize we are on a journey, then we end up like Mazzie on White Collar; entertaining...but a little...off balance.
As many of you know one of my passions is Torah She Be'al Peh (Oral Torah), because that is where a majority of our prophecies (roughly 90%) of Yeshua being Mashyach come from. As an individual with Aspergers syndrome, living an orthodox halaka helps me to make the connections to certain concepts and it also puts me into a structured routine which helps draw back my minor anxieties. But at the same time, we have an issue when we become too zealous for oral torah at the same time. And I love how Hashem revealed this in a message I thought I was giving to the schul last Friday when I started my series on Galatians, but in all honesty Hashem was giving me a gut check.
Too often we are like little kids who see this new shiny thing we have found (oral torah) and we want to immerse ourselves in it before we are ready and we run before we can walk. This is dangerous stuff. Because if we do not have a proper balance then the fact is we can move a little too far to one side and tip the boat over and without our life jacket (Yeshua) we will indeed drown.
I've seen so many not take the proper steps in their observance and they try and run before they can walk. They think they are in a race, and we have the tortuous and the hare style of situation (NOTE: In the original version of the story that crazy wabbit got himself killed from his clumsiness). What I have seen from individuals who try and run before they can walk is minimizing the authority of Yeshua and placing salvation and one's sights into the sages and this in many ways is an unconscious denial of Yeshua. I knew of one such individual, a former friend, who after 3 months in her walk she obtained a copy of Rabbi Shalom Arush's book "The Garden of Emuna" and that particular book is amazing, I have read it and endorse it and have taught out of it. But instead of seeing Mashyach as her authority, a few weeks later she bought all of Rabbi Arush's books and then tractates from the Zohar and the Tanya etc and for a year.....she never mentioned Mashyach or proclaimed him as King, instead she found the beauty that is found in orthodoxy. And orthodox Judaism is beautiful and should be revered and honored (in my personal opinion) BUT at the same time the letter to the Galatians, especially in chapter 1 shows us that our authority comes from Mashyach, all authority is his because he is indeed Hashem. Yeshua made this known in Mark 15:2, John 18:37, and Matthew 27:11 when he replied to Pilate "Ena Na" (Aramaic for I Am, the hebrew equivalent is Eyeh Asher). The concept of Yeshua being Hashem is also found in the oral torah and we will not get into that now. If you wish to listen to a teaching on that aspect you can click the button below:
So the question then becomes, does the oral torah or even the written Torah have dominance over that of Hashem himself? God forbid we should think as such. The rabbinical sage Rabbeynu Bachya in his book Duties of the Heart makes note of this in the second book where he tackles common doubts and the progression of spiritual maturity. Now we can honestly see in the Devar HaTorah that there is indeed a Torah She Be'al Peh and it is endorsed in Scripture.
"Because Avraham obeyed my voice, and was shomer over My mishmeret, my mitzos, My chukkot and my Torot"
There are several mentions of oral Torah in that one verse and Hashem saw these as positive attributes of Avraham Aveinu. Then there is also the entire Parsha of Shoftim where authority was given to the Shoftim to make halaka, and then there is that pesky little verse where Yeshua makes note to do as the Pharisees say in Matthew 23:1-3.
By citing these verses you may feel as though I am trying to push you into studying or observing oral torah, God forbid. If a person is not at least 5 years in their faith, and I mean 5 years of moving forward and not just at a standstill then they have no business dabbling in oral torah.
I have many at Kehilat Melech Mashyach who come into my office and say, "I wish to learn oral torah". My question is then "why do you want to learn oral torah?". The way they respond tells me if they are ready for it or not. Again it is important to realize we are not in a race, for a B'nei Noach or Ger HaTzaddik, can be just as righteous, if not more so, than that of a Baal HaTorah or a Baal HaGemara or even a Baal HaKabbalah. Therefore, not everyone needs to study Torah She Be'al Peh, and anyone who pushes you to study it is a destructive individual and they have a very minimal understanding of Judaism if they try and push you into studying it until the Bat Kol or the Ruach HaKodesh tells you it is time after and adequate time. For a first year medical student is not ready to do surgery and no professor or doctor would put a scalpel in the first year medical student's hand and say "do the brain surgery on this patient and I'll sit back and watch". If a doctor did that, then there is almost a 100% chance the patient will die. But it is important to have a healthy respect for it at the same time, and when someone quotes it in your synagogue you shouldn't act as though someone said a curse word in your schul, nor should you do an end zone dance either when it is recited in the schul, and just do a simple clap of the hands when the Scripture is read. Just like the parts of an automobile, everything has it's proper place. See Mashyach as the motor that runs the car down our path, oral torah can be seen as only that of the radio in the car or air conditioner, the written Torah is the frame in which we are encapsulated in that keeps us safe from the harsh elements of the outside world and which holds the motor and the air conditioning and the radio.
For even the Zohar makes note in Zohar 221a that Mashyach is the middle pillar of the sefiros and he is the son of Hashem. There is a reason the sefiros is likened to that of a body in one it's visual models. For the middle pillar of one's body carries the most vital organs for life, the most important of which is the brain. The brain allows a person to breathe, the heart is dependent upon the brain to pump blood throughout the body, the brain causes the lips to speak, the ears to hear, the legs to walk and the feet to walk. Thus is the case with Mashyach. If we are to live a jewish lifestyle, if we are to be an Ohr L'Goyim, then we better know who our master is. The left pillar and the right signify the Devar HaTorah and Torah She Be'al Peh, we can only fulfill mitzvos of either one and do so rightly through Mashyach.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah the North American Rebbe of Ani Judaism