Mosaic Judaism vs. Rabbinic Judaism

Should Catholic Jews (and Messianic Jews) keep the Torah? How should Catholic Jews relate to rabbinical authority?

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Hadassah
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Mosaic Judaism vs. Rabbinic Judaism

Post by Hadassah » Mon Sep 29, 2008 7:30 pm

Hello All,

One of the questions under this topic is, "How should Catholic Jews relate to rabbinical authority?" I heard a prominent Hebrew Catholic speaker say that the Judaism of today is not the Judaism that God gave. If I understood correctly, the difference is the difference between Mosaic Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism. Does anyone have a comment on this or wish to briefly explain the difference and its implications?

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Post by Athol » Wed Oct 01, 2008 8:13 am

Father Elias Friedman made this distinction in his book "Jewish Identity". In one sense this is true that the Judaism before the destruction of the Temple still had the Temple rites as a living reality and after it didn't. However Judaism of the Second temple times was both Mosaic and Rabbinic- it had the Temple and the Rabbinic authority as mentioned in Matthew 23. After the Temple's destruction Judaism is still Mosaic and Rabbinic eventhough prayers now substitute for the Temple ritual. I personally believe that the Rabbis still sit in the Chair of Moses and have Mosaic authority in regard to the Torah revealed to Moses at Sinai. I believe in both the written and the oral Torah given to Moses as God given and inspired. Many other Hebrew Catholics would totally disagree with me.
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Post by Hadassah » Wed Oct 01, 2008 12:14 pm

Athol wrote:I personally believe that the Rabbis still sit in the Chair of Moses and have Mosaic authority in regard to the Torah revealed to Moses at Sinai. I believe in both the written and the oral Torah given to Moses as God given and inspired. Many other Hebrew Catholics would totally disagree with me.
So when you speak of the oral Torah, do you mean the Talmud or something different? And when you say that they have "Mosaic authority" what does this imply (e.g., what does it mean to you to "sit on the chair of Moses", Mt. 23)? Certainly the Church does not give authority (in any way, much less as divinely inspired) to rabbinic teaching. Is this what you mean by inspired? How does that reconcile?

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Post by Ariel » Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:31 pm

I would tend to not go as far as Athol, and I'm not so sure rabbis today still sit on the chair of Moses and teach with legitimate, divinely sanctioned authority. However, I would also be cautious in rashly rejecting this claim as many Catholics do. So I'm an agnostic regarding this point.

Certainly, Judaism has changed very much since the destruction of the Temple. However, I don't find the distinction between Mosaic and rabbinical Judaism to be accurate. Better would perhaps be biblical or 2nd Temple Judaism and rabbinical Judaism - though this is also not fully satisfying since 2nd Temple Judaism was also rabbinical.

I think we Catholics need to be very prudent before making these kinds of categorizations.

Speaking of categories, I largely disagree with Fr. Elias Friedman's distinction between “Israelite” and "Jew".

In Fr. Friedman’s own words:
The term ‘Israelite’ designates any member of the people of Israel, object of the divine Election.
The term ‘Jew’ designates the Israelite placed in relation to the Law of Moses, written and interpreted. (Jewish Identity, p. 48 )
The problem with this distinction is that it is completely academic and artificial. No secular Jewish person today would call himself an "Israelite." He would see himself as a “Jew” – entirely regardless of his “relation to the Law of Moses.”

Furthermore, the word "Israelite" doesn’t even exist in Hebrew, which has either “Yehudi” (Jew) or “Israeli” (Israeli). The biblical term “bnei Israel” (children of Israel) is used today entirely synonymously with “Jews”.

For Fr. Friedman, a Jew who becomes Catholic “ceases to be a Jew” but becomes an “Israelitico-Christian” or “Hebrew Christian”. I don't know about you, but the first one seems to me a rather unpalatable religious label. I have no problem with the second, but to me it’s also somewhat artificial (not to mention untranslatable into Hebrew – for it refers either to the ancient Hebrews or to the Hebrew language).

I don't know if we can realistically expect to define through these artificial terms some abstract form of Israelitishness-without-the-Judaism, or keep-the-divine-election-but-get-rid-of-the-Torah. Isn't that just yet another form of practical assimilation even if the wording tries to avoid that fact?

But perhaps I have strayed far from the original question?
Last edited by Ariel on Sat Oct 18, 2008 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Hadassah
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Post by Hadassah » Wed Oct 08, 2008 11:22 am

Ariel wrote:But perhaps I have strayed far from the original question?

I don't know if we can realistically expect to define through these artificial terms some abstract form of Israelitishness-without-the-Judaism, or keep-the-divine-election-but-get-rid-of-the-Torah. Isn't that just yet another form of practical assimilation even if the wording tries to avoid that fact?
Is there a rule against straying from the original question? That's the stuff of good discussion! How assimilation? By the secular culture, the world? I'd be interested to see some chatter on the forum on the topic you raise as well. Seems that Athol's "off to the coast" for a bit, so others will need to speak their minds :-).
Ariel wrote:I would tend to not go as far as Athol, and I'm not so sure rabbis today still sit on the chair of Moses and teach with rabbinic authority. However, I would also be cautious in rashly rejecting this claim as many Catholics do. So I'm an agnostic regarding this point.
So it seems to me that to "sit on the chair of Moses" in Matthew 23 refers to the authority of the Scribes and the Pharisees to teach in regard to the Mosaic law. So when Athol says that rabbinic teaching is "inspired", I am guessing that he means that they have divine guidance to interpret the law for the people, not necessarily to teach anew. Is this incorrect?

So my question to Athol (if I am correct in my guessing; please clarify if not) is, "In your view, who exactly are those people today?"

It also seems that asking this question to a Catholic implicitly brings in consideration of the authority of the Church. My earlier "how does that reconcile" is based on the assumption that a Hebrew Catholic is responding to the question.

So my question to Ariel is, "What would constitute a rash rejection of the claim that the rabbis of today still sit on the chair of Moses?" For example, it would seem perfectly in order to say that the authority of the Church (for a Hebrew Catholic) is the authority of Christ and that rabbinic teaching is secondary to that. And certainly if they conflicted, the choice, it seems, would be clear. I am just not sure I understand your comment.

And I'd certainly be glad to hear what others have to say as well...

God bless,
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Post by Athol » Sat Oct 18, 2008 6:16 am

As a Jewish Catholic I see that the Chair of Peter is the ultimate authority in the believers life in regards to faith and morals. However in regard to the Mosiac law the Rabbis sit in Moses seat and teach authoritively in their area of witnessing to the Torah of Moses and its authentic interpretation as determined by the consensus of the Rabbis which is the halakah. As Gentiles are not called to the specific Jewish observances of the Torah of Moses they are not subject to the chair of Moses or the halakah. At the present time the chair of moses is outside the church and only partly functioning as the fully-accepted Sanhedrin no longer exists- thus the consensus of the rabbis does not carry the same full authority that it did when there was a Sanhedrin. I speak not of the political priestly and aristocratic Sanhedrin but the Rabbinic Sanhedrin. Presently in Israel there is a new Sanhedrin that does not carry full authority as the Sanhedrin but is seen as a preparatory Sanhedrin. I look forward to the full restoration of the Sanhedrin which will then have the authority to proclaim that Yeshua is the longed for messiah of the Jews and will have the authority to lead the Jewish people and synagogue into the bosom of the church as a collective. this is my own personal opinion and speculation.
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Post by Hadassah » Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:55 am

Athol wrote:I speak not of the political priestly and aristocratic Sanhedrin but the Rabbinic Sanhedrin. Presently in Israel there is a new Sanhedrin that does not carry full authority as the Sanhedrin but is seen as a preparatory Sanhedrin.
We haven't heard from you in a while. I hope that travel is going (or went) well...

What do you mean when you say that the current Sanhedrin is "preparatory"? Do you mean simply that you suspect that it will someday be an instrument. Or do you see something going on in the current body, their influence, etc that indicates some movement toward this full authority you speak of.

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Post by Athol » Sun Oct 19, 2008 5:04 am

I mean that they see themselves as a prepartory body not the full functioning Sanhedrin.

Ijust got back from California yesterday and I am off to Florida tomorrow.

Cheers Athol
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Whose Authority

Post by Athol » Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:15 am

I often come across statements that say we are now under the authority of Yeshua or we are under the authority of the Church etc not under the authority of the Rabbis or the Rabbibic traditions. It seems to me to be a false dichotomy at odds with Yeshua's statement that "The scribes and Pharisees sit in the chair of Moses...' in Matthew 23. One can accept the ultimate authority of Yeshuah and the magisterium of the church while also accepting the authoritiveness of the Rabbis and the Rabbinic tradition in regards to the Torah and Jewish life. For example a breslov Chasidic Jew accepts the authority of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and his teachings in regards to being a Breslov Hasid while at the same time accepting the Rabbinic tradition and halakah that guides all Jews. Just as one who wishes to be a Franciscan accepts the authority of St Francis and his teachings for living out the Franciscan lifestyle and vocation while at the same time accepting the authority of the Magisterium of Peter's Chair. The Catholic Jew accepts as do all Jews that the Messiah is the ultimate authority on torah and Jewish practice. For the Orthodox Jew that Messiah has not come but for the catholic Jew he has come as Yeshuah. While orthodox Jews await the future clarifications of the Messiah's halakah the Catholic Jew already has received that revelation. At the time of the Messiah's Gillui (manifestation) to the Jews, Judaism will accept the authority of the Messiah's voice on earth in the Chair of Peter. The halakah is alive and developing and is not limited to any one expression or time in history. God's Word must be made relevant for each generation and culture while remaining faithful to that Word and its Tradition. The new covenant is not new in the sense of ex nihilio newness but new in its freshness in taking the understanding of Torah both Written and Oral into a new messianic dimensions as revealed by a reflection on the Messiah and his Life.
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Re: Whose Authority

Post by Hadassah » Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:00 pm

Athol wrote:Just as one who wishes to be a Franciscan accepts the authority of St Francis and his teachings for living out the Franciscan lifestyle and vocation while at the same time accepting the authority of the Magisterium of Peter's Chair. The Catholic Jew accepts as do all Jews that the Messiah is the ultimate authority on torah and Jewish practice.
Well, I can see your point in part. However, I suppose the difference would be that someone like St. Francis would have embraced the teaching of the Church and would have established a rule in keeping with that. And St. Francis would have additionally submitted himself to the authority of the Church. Not so with the rabbis, obviously, for they are not bound to that. So I agree that it would be perfectly valid to treat rabbinic teaching something like a monastic rule. However, for Catholic Jews, the issue would be anything that might be in contradiction. And if there is contradiction to definitive teaching, what then do we mean by the word "authority." Can you think of any place where this might be true, where one might find a rabbinic teaching in contradiction with the teaching of the Church?

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Post by Athol » Tue Oct 28, 2008 4:57 pm

Obviously where authority clashes with authority one must follow the higher authority. For example when a priest or group of priests teach contrary to the Bishop one must follow the Bishop or when a bishop or group of bishops teach contrary to the Pope we follow the Pope. Judaism itself teaches that the Messiah will resolve all halakic difficulties so his authority is higher than that of the Rabbis and the Sanhedrin. Many groups within Orthodox Judaism have different opinions, customs and interpretations of Jewish law and practices and i foresee a time when Catholic Jews will develop the halakah in a direction appropriate to them. I also see that the authority of the Rabbis and Judaism will be enhanced once the veil is lifted and they as a collective enter formally the Kingdom of the Redemption by embacing Yeshuah and the Church. However the Church will have to change and adapt just as Judaism will have to change and adapt.
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Post by Athol » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:12 pm

On the last point I found an interesting quote from Father Raniero Cantalamessa the Pope's preacher. "..it is certain that the rejoining of Israel with the Church will involve a rearrangement in the Church; it will mean a conversion on both sides". (from the Mystery of Christmas)
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Post by Hadassah » Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:30 pm

Athol wrote:I also see that the authority of the Rabbis and Judaism will be enhanced once the veil is lifted and they as a collective enter formally the Kingdom of the Redemption by embacing Yeshuah and the Church. However the Church will have to change and adapt just as Judaism will have to change and adapt.
So to whom will their authority apply when this happens? Do you mean that they will have authority (or some measure of authority) over all the Church?

p.s., In what part of the map can we stick the Athol-tracking pin now :-) ?

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Post by Ariel » Wed Oct 29, 2008 1:25 pm

Excellent quote from Cantalamessa! I don't recall a single thing that he wrote or said that I didn't like. Where is that from Athol? I'm tempted to put the quote on our home page.

PS: I second Hadassah's questions on the tracking pin.
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Post by Hadassah » Fri Oct 31, 2008 11:30 pm

Actually, Ariel, that quote is in a long quote from Father Cantalamessa which is on the AHC website:

http://hebrewcatholic.org/FaithandTheol ... oryof.html

Happy (almost) All Saints Day!

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