IS THE TORAH
by Rachmiel Frydland
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the original Torah of God in his hands, he found out that his people had broken one of its commandments. For the Torah he held in his hands said, "Thou shalt not make unto thee ... any manner of likeness, of anything that is ... in the earth. ... Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them....... Our people transgressed this command and, as a result, there was no need for the whole Torah, for we have the record which says:
And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf,
and the dancing; and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and broke them
beneath the mount. (Exodus 32:19)
One command was broken and, therefore, there was no need for the rest of the commandments, for the Torah is one. The Torah was transcribed again but only after full repentance, punishment, and restitution, was fellowship with God restored.
According to rabbinic reckoning, there are 613 commandments in the Torah: 248 positive commands (what we should do); and 365 negative commands (what we should not do). The 248 positive commands correspond to the number of separate parts of our body and the 365 negative commands correspond to the days of the year, so that, throughout the year, we are commanded to do all the commands with all the joints and parts of our body.
Yet we are told that all these commands can be reduced down to one. This was done already by the famous Hillel (a contemporary of Jesus). We are told that a Gentile came to him and asked for conversion to Judaism on condition that Hillel would teach him all the Torah while he stood on one foot. Hillel agreed and told him the whole Torah is summarized in one command. "What is hateful to you do not unto others. The rest is commentary."
Clearly it was the official teaching of the rabbis that one mitzvah (command) equals the whole Torah. Thus we have it in Midrash Rabbah Exodus 25:16:
Rabbi Levi taught, 'If Israel should keep the Sabbath as it ought to be kept, even for once, then the Son of David (Messiah) would come. Why? Because it is as if they would have kept the whole Torah.'
Rabbi Elazar, son of Abina, goes on to explain in the same context that this can be proved in a threefold way from the Torah, the prophets, and the writings. In the same Midrash we have the exposition on Exodus 22:24:
Come and see: he that is well to do and gives charity and does not take usury on his loans, it is as he would have kept all the commands of the Torah.
Should the objection be made that these are extra important commands and therefore one of them is equal to the whole, the highest Talmudical authority warns us saying, "Be careful to perform a minor mitzvah just as well as a major one, for you do not know the reward for each mitzvah." (Aboth 2:1)
GOD IS ONE
The Hassidic saying that, "God, Torah and Israel are one," has its origin in hoary antiquity. Right in the first book of the Torah we are told how our ancestor Jacob became Israel, taking on the name of one God, El, and receiving the blessing of the mysterious Person who struggled with him. After it, Jacob said, I have seen God face to face. (Genesis 32:31) Our ancestor Jacob is joined to God by ruler ship and by struggle and now carries the name El (Israel) in his own name. Possibly the best summary is given by Moses in Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (Devariim). He had told his people that the command is nigh to the Jewish people in their mouth and heart to do them. Summarizing the covenant, he warns us saying:
I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you, that I have set before
you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thee and
thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice,
and that thou mayest cleave unto him, for he is thy life... .
The situation we have before us can be summarized as follows: God is one. Rebellion against the angel of the Lord is rebellion against God. Behold, I send an angel. ... Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not... for my name is in him. (Exodus 23:20-2 1) Rebellion against God's prophet is again rebellion against God. (Deuteronomy 18:18-19) The same is the case with rebellion against the Holy Spirit, as is seen in the inspired record, But they rebelled, and vexed his holy spirit: therefore, he was turned to be their enemy, and fought against them. (Isaiah 63: 10) All aspects of God's manifestation are One.
The same applies to the Torah. One cannot eliminate or change even a letter of the Torah or of the prophets without hurt to God Himself. This is clearly taught in the Talmud and in Midrash Song of Solomon 5:
Rabbi Levi said: Even little things which are only end of letters are actually mountains that can destroy the whole creation: It is written, 'Hear, 0 Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is One.' If you change the letter daled in Echad so that it becomes a resh, you destroy everything. Another example, 'Thou shalt not worship another God.' If you make a daled of the resh it will come out, 'Thou shalt not worship the One God.' Thus you will destroy the whole creation. A third example: It is written in Leviticus 2: 2, And ye shall not profane my Holy Name. If you change the letter het in profane and make it a hey, it will say, 'and ye shall not praise my Holy Name,' and so you will destroy the world. A fourth example from Isaiah 8: It is written, And I will wait for the Lord. But if you change the het in wait to the letter hey, it will come out, 'I will smite the Lord.' Thus you destroy [God].
ISRAEL IS ONE
Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah expressed this thought a long time before in the sermon on the mount:
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass,
one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass
from the Torah (Law), till all be fulfilled.
The same applies to Israel. Israel is one people. He that toucheth one Israelite toucheth all of Israel. This is well summarized in the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a:
Therefore was man created alone, to teach you that he who destroys one Israelite, Scripture
considers him as if he would have destroyed the whole world. But he who preserves one Israelite it is as
if he would have preserved the whole world.
Yaakov (James), the apostle and brother of Jesus (Yeshua), the Messiah, reminds his Jewish brethren of the well-known, sacred principle that God is One; the people of Israel are one; the Torah is one. Hence Yaakov warns:
For whosoever shall keep the whole Torah (Law), and yet offend in one point,
he is guilty of all. James 2:10
Destroy one part of any of them and you destroy the whole. Preserve and keep one part and you keep it all.
The question is, are we aware of it? The answer must be a resounding YES! Books would have to be written to quote from our Jewish sources, even if we limit ourselves to the most outstanding references to human sin in general and to Israel's sins in particular. The references in one tractate of Berakhot would be too many to quote. Rabbis one after the other admits that the sufferings they endured and the Jewish people endure is a result of some transgression of the Law at one time or another. Only one rabbi stands and claims that his ten fingers kept the ten commandments. But the very boastful claim shows that he is a transgressor in the matter of humility.
On the other hand we have the oft-quoted story of Yohanan ben Zakkai who was visited by his disciples while he was sick. They found him crying and weeping. They said to him, "Rabbi, you are the light of Israel, the pillar on which we lean, the hammer that crushes all heresy. Why should you weep?" He sincerely confessed and said he was afraid to die because he was not too sure whether he would end up in heaven or hell or enjoy the light of God or be thrown into the darkness of Satan and his host. (Berakhot 28)
Who of us is not acquainted with the Siddur and Mahzor and with the constant confessions and admissions of our guilt and sin? In the Amidah, the Shemoneh Esreh (18 benedictions), we implore God: "Forgive us, our Father, for we sinned; blot out our sins, Our King, for we transgressed."
ATONEMENT IS ONE
There was one Israelite who lived, and only one, who never broke the Torah. He is Yeshua, the Messiah, who fulfilled the righteousness of the Law. He is God's son - God manifest in the flesh who came not to destroy the Torah but to fulfill it. As concerning Yeshua, the Brit Hadasha (New Covenant Scriptures) says:
And this is [God's commandment that we should believe on the name of his Son Yeshua, the Messiah, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in Him. ' And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.' (I Yochanan 3:23-24)
The whole world stands condemned by a righteous and just God.
The whole world can be saved only by the One who kept the Torah
and provided an atonement for our sins - Messiah Yeshua.
How about you? Have you received your Redeemer, the Stone whom the builders rejected? In Him is life, light and joy and in His sacrifice is forgiveness of sin.
Reprinted with permission of
The Messianic Literature Outreach
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