Mark 7 - Steve Wiggins Daily Devotional
“Then the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, ‘Why don’t Your disciples live according to the traditions of the elders, instead of eating bread with ritually unclean hands?’ He answered them, ‘Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men. Disregarding the command of G_d, you keep the tradition of men.’” Mark 7: 5-8
Many people believe that Yeshua rejected ALL tradition. This is not so. There are many B’rit Hadasha (New Testament) traditions. (1 Cor 11:2, 2 Thes 2: 15)
As for Oral Rabbinic traditions, in John 7:37, Yeshua and His disciples took part in a Sukkot festival observance, which is not mentioned in the Torah. It is only found in the Mishna. On that occasion, Yeshua took the opportunity to refocus a water-drawing ceremony, traditionally conducted by the High Priest, into a statement of His Messianic role. John 10:22-39 has Yeshua in the Temple at the Festival of Dedication, aka, Hanukkah. There He was, the “Light of the World” in the Temple at Hanukkah…a traditional Jewish holiday also not mentioned in the Torah, but supported by tradition.
When Yeshua took issue with the “tradition of the elders” or “oral Torah”, it was whenever the Pharisees placed human tradition over G_d’s command. As long as a tradition is consistent with the Bible, and honored by the people as such, there is nothing wrong with the tradition. We cannot assume that ALL rabbinic tradition is bad. It must be weighed by G_d’s Word.
Pertaining to today’s scripture, the practice of ritual hand washing is still in effect in Orthodox Judaism today. The rationale has less to do with hygiene and is based mostly on the idea that “a man’s home is his temple,” with the dining table his altar, his food the sacrifice, and himself the priest. Since the Tanakh requires priests to be ceremonially pure before offering sacrifices on the Temple altar, the “Oral Tradition” requires the same before eating a meal.
So, which traditions are permissible, and which ones lead to sin? My answer is simple: Read the Bible. By spending quality time in G_d’s Word every day, we learn His heart. We learn to love the things He loves, and hate the things He hates. In short, we become discerning, as to which attitudes & behaviors honor G_d.
The more we disregard His Word, the more susceptible we are to following a “teaching of men”, instead of the Way of the L_rd.
~Steve Wiggins, Assistant Rabbi
Daily Devotional, Friday, May 24, 2013