I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Was Yeshua a Sabbath Breaker?: A Hebrew Catholic Perspective

Many Gentile Christians read the Gospels and see that Yeshua and his disciples at times broke the Sabbath laws and conclude that Yeshua (Jesus) did not value the Sabbath and that he abolished the Jewish Sabbath observance. Some Jewish Christians try to defend Yeshua and the disciples by denying the authority of the Rabbis and claiming that Yeshua didn't break the Biblical laws of the Sabbath. This is another form of sola scriptura that rejects the authority of the community and its leadership in being the interpreters of Scripture and Tradition (Written and oral Torah). Yeshua as a devout Jew and Pharisee accepted both, he was no Sadducee or Karaite.

While most Catholics reject this sola scriptura approach for the New Testament and its leadership, they often do accept it for the Old Testament and its leadership. Yeshua himself in Matthew 23 affirmed the authority of the Scribes and the Pharisaic Rabbis as sitting on the Seat or Chair of Moses and he also affirmed in Matthew 7 that he had no intention of abolishing even the smallest part of the Torah and Prophets. If he did, then no Jew could follow him as he would be a false Messiah.

Did Yeshua and his disciples break the Sabbath laws? The answer is yes they did. However in doing this Yeshua adhered to Jewish Halachic principals. It would have been sinful for him not to break the Sabbath laws in certain situations because there are higher laws that one must obey. These higher laws are those of doing good by alleviating human need and suffering by showing compassionate mercy. 

The laws of mercy and love are higher than the laws of the Temple service just as the laws of the Temple Service are higher than the laws of the Sabbath. When they are in conflict the lower laws yield to the higher and the negative commandments to the positive. This is part of the kal v'chomer principles of Halachah. Today Pope Francis is returning Catholic teaching to this original approach to the rules and laws of the Catholic faith to its original sources in the Gospels and the teaching of Yeshua. And today we also have rigid Catholic Pharisees who oppose the Pope's reorientation to a Biblical approach rooted into the Halachic principals outlined by Yeshua himself as the priority of mercy and love.

Yeshua in laying out his approach to Halachah demonstrated, through referring to the story of David and his men eating the shewbread, that human hunger and need has a higher priority than the Temple laws. When Yeshua said that "something greater than the Temple is here", he on the level of peshat and drash was not referring to himself but to the law of mercy (doing good to others including animals) which is greater than the laws of the Temple service. However in no way did Yeshua intend to abolish the Sabbath laws but he did articulate with a kal v'chomer approach when it was lawful to break such rules when a higher priority was appropriate.

When Yeshua said that "the son of man is Lord of the Sabbath" he was not on the level of peshat (literal) and drash (homelectical) referring to himself as the Son of Man as he does in other places but referring to mankind. He is saying 'Man is master of the Sabbath' which complements 'The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath'. The more mystical interpretations of these sayings after reflecting on who Yeshua was as Messiah is a valid one and gives us greater spiritual insight. However we must first understand the levels of peshat and drash and what Yeshua was actually saying and how his Jewish audience was understanding him at that time. 

In Luke 14 at a dinner held by a prominent Pharisee leader who may have been Gamaliel himself Yeshua defended his Halachic argument about doing good or showing mercy on the Sabbath through healing. It would seem Gamaliel and the other Pharisees present agreed with his argument or at least had no reponse to it. Gamaliel later would defend the Apostles and St Clement reveals that Gamaliel became a secret disciple of Yeshua with the permission of St Peter in order to help the persecuted believers. Gamaliel who was the Nasi (Davidic president) and Av Bet Din (Chief Rabbi) of the Sanhedrin and thus the one who sat on the Seat of Moses thus defers to the higher authority of the Seat of Peter.

Any future Hebrew Catholic or Catholic Jewish community will have to use these Halachic principals as established by the Messiah, just as Hasidic Jews accept that of their Rebbes. The Sacrifice of the Mass is the Temple service of the New Covenant and thus has a priority over Sabbath laws. Thus if one cannot walk to Mass or Adoration on Shabbat then it would be permissible for a Catholic Jew to travel by car, train or bus. Just as it is permissible for a Catholic to miss Sunday Mass if they have to care for someone who is ill. We see an example of this in the famous story of Schneur Zalman of Liadi (the founder of Chabad Hasidim) on Yom Kippor, leaving his prayers, chopping wood and lighting a fire in order to help a woman who had just given birth. Thus the Hebrew Catholic should put doing good for others as the first priority. 

Yeshua taught that it is not only if a life is endangered that one can break the Sabbath and Temple laws, but if it will alleviate the suffering or distress of a person it is appropriate to do so immediately and this is a mitzvah which one should run to perform with joy. Pope Francis is presenting to us the terrible spiritual and emotional suffering of many Catholics in broken marriages and second marriages and asking us to put the priority of mercy and alleviating suffering above canon law. He is asking the priests and Bishops supported by the laity to run with joy to accompany these sufferers in their suffering and to do whatever they can to help alleviate that suffering of soul. This is nothing new but a return to the Gospels and the teaching of Yeshua which is taken to a new level of understanding in the ongoing development of doctrine in the Catholic Church (as articulated by Blessed Cardinal Newman) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the one who sits in the Chair or Seat of Peter. 

Of course we need to always keep in mind that Jewish Sabbath observances are not salvific but a way of sanctity for Jewish people given by God himself at Sinai. However some form of Sabbath rest observance is universal as the Sabbath was given in the beginning to mankind to observe and the Church allows Gentile Catholics to fulfill this universal observance of a day of Rest on Sundays.While the outward observance of Halachah (the Way) will differ for Jews and Gentiles, the principal underlying them apply to both.


Jong Ricafort said...

thanks again for erasing my doubts on the series of attack against Pope Francis teaching on God's mercy...particularly on Amoris Laetitia..God bless!

Catholic Jew said...

Jong you are welcome. Always stick with the Pope against all comers even yourself.