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Vayikra/Leviticus 25:1 And Adonai spoke to Moshe on Mt. Sinai ...
One of the foundational tenets of Orthodox Judaism is that both the Written and Oral Torah were given to Moshe at Mt. Sinai.Rashi makes the connection here at the start of this parasha, before a set of detailed laws dealing with the seven-year agricultural cycle, that even these detailed laws were given to Moshe here in the desert at Mt. Sinai. Rashi also makes the point that this particular set of laws is not repeated on the Plains of Moab in the book of D'varim, to demonstrate that all the Torah, whether repeated elsewhere or not, originates at Sinai (Torat Kohanim, Sefer Zikaron). Although Judaism naturally recognises the role that Moshe played during the departure from Egypt, his status as 'Moshe Rabbeinu', Moses our Teacher, comes from the revelation and teaching of the Torah at Mt. Sinai - everything before then fades by comparison to the start of his real ministry at this pivotal moment in our people's history.
It is surely no co-incidence that we find Yeshua, almost at the start of His ministry, taking His disciples a little apart from the crowds, up a hill by the Sea of Galilee, to give one of the longest single discourses recorded in the gospels, known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In a wide ranging survey of Torah and the way it was being taught by the rabbis of His time, Yeshua focuses on the key functions and purposes to correct some of the misinterpretations that developed over time. In fact, He was working in exactly the same way as Moshe, as an halakhic authority, making rulings as to how Torah should be applied and worked out in everyday life. Unlike the rabbis, however, Yeshua taught with authority so that the account finishes with the comment: "When Yeshua had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at the way He taught, for He was not instructing them like their Torah-teachers but as one who had authority Himself" (Matt 7:28-29, CJB).
A lot of things in this world depend on authority: how much you have and where you got it from. In business, levels of expenditure and authority are decided by the Board or senior management; in the academic world, your position is determined by your degree and university, then the number of papers you have had published. So it isn't surprising to find that Scripture comments on the authority of Moshe and Yeshua. The Torah quotes G-d Himself as saying, "Moshe is the only one faithful in My entire household" (B'Midbar 12:7, CJB). But the book of Hebrews, quoting that passage from the Torah adds, "But Yeshua deserves more honour than Moshe, just as the builder of the house deserves more honour than the house ... Moshe was faithful in all G-d's house, as a servant giving witness to things that G-d would divulge later. But the Messiah, as Son, was faithful over> G-d's house" (Hebrews 3:3-6, CJB).
Further Study: 1 Samuel 2:35-36; Matthew 25:14-23
Application: It is easy, when becoming involved in studying Judaism to learn the ways and traditions of our people, to lose sight of the difference between Moshe and Yeshua. Today is a day to refocus and know that Yeshua is Messiah!
© Jonathan Allen, 2004
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