Category Archives: Oral Torah

The Soul of Aharon the High Priest – Live Broadcast for August 5777

Streamed live on Aug 6, 2017

Aharon was Moshe Rabbeinu’s brother and served as the High Priest in the Desert Tabernacle.
What was Aharon’s greatest mistake and what should he have done differently? How was
Aharon partially responsible for the death of his two older sons? What made Aharon such a
great marriage counselor and how can that information help us today? These and many more
questions discussed in Rav Ginsburgh’s live broadcast for the month of August.

Why Rambam Rarely Mentions Customs

The Rambam was looking forward to the future when we would no longer be in exile and living in Eretz Israel, (may it be soon and in our day) and we would no longer need the local minhagim of our Hakhamim and bet din to keep us unified in the exile as a family unit (Klal Israel), but as a nation gathered together, with Shoftim as in the days of old. Bound by the minhagim of Eretz Israel and the great Sanhedrin.

This is the reason the Rambam did not focus on customs in his approach to his Halachah and writings.   The Rambam was both living in the future and anticipating our Kibbutz Galiot.

Rules of Jewish Hermeneutics

Rules of Jewish Hermeneutics

Rules of Jewish Hermeneutics 101

If one is truly interested in learning then one must first submit himself or herself to Judah the “LAWGIVER” otherwise, One, is a law unto himself. Judah – The Lawgiver of God Hebrew:  Mechoqeck

There are rules to interpreting the Tanach handed down to us from Moshe Rabbeinu has part of the Torah.    One can not on his own interpret the Torah without knowing Hebrew because the Torah  is only the notes of those who stood at Sinai for the Lecture.

Remember The Shabbat To Guard it and it Will Guard You.

Our Rabbi’s teach us that the Shabbat is what has kept Israel and not the other way around, and so, today, as we, who are returning to the Sabbath Queen and her every lasting spirit and her connection to the GOD of Israel, are looking to her for answers in this world that is bring us back to our past, where she will once again keep us in this time of Jacob’s Trouble.


The more the world changes, the more it stays the same. That is why she has stood so tall in the lives of her people, Israel. She is a beacon of hope to all those who look to the promises of our Father in heaven. The land of holy contentment and her Sabbath rest for all those who believe and stay faithful to her. The Shabbat and her message of freedom continues to speak to the world and the Torah is still going forth to proclaim liberty to the captives. (Leviticus 25:10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family). By the way this is what is written on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Today, as spoken by the Prophets of old, we have forsaken Adonai’s Shabbat’s and chosen to disregard or replace her with our own. Ezekiel 20:14 But I wrought for my name’s sake that it should not be polluted before the heathen in whose sight I brought them out.Ezekiel 20:15 Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey which is the glory of all lands; Ezekiel 20:16 Because they despised my judgments and walked not in my statutes but polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols. Today as the people of Adonai we are in the wilderness of the peoples and the word of Adonai will go void. We have profaned His Sabbaths. Ezekiel 20:18 But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols Ezekiel 20:19 I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes and keep my judgments, and do them; Ezekiel 20:20 And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you that ye may know that I am the LORD your God. The Shabbat gives us insight to Adoani’s plans. 1) The Sabbath is a Festival of YHVH 2) The Sabbath teaches us about our rest in Yeshua 3) YHVH promises abundant blessings for celebrating the Sabbath 4) The non-Jews may celebrate the Sabbath 5) The Sabbath is a day of rest and no work should be done 6) You are permitted to do good on the Sabbath 7) The Sabbath is the 7th day of creation 8) The Sabbath is the day of the Lord 9) The Sabbath foreshadows the Messianic Era 10) The day of the Lord begins the Messianic Era 11) ‘In that day’ and ‘At that time’ are idioms for the Messianic Era Sabbath 12) The Sabbath is a remembrance of creation 13) The Sabbath is a remembrance of redemption The Sabbath is a remembrance of restoration 15) The Sabbath is linked with sanctification and holiness 16) The Sabbath is linked with marriage 17) The Sabbath is the wedding ring of the covenant vow at mount Sinai Keeping the Sabbath prepares the Bride for her wedding The Sabbath foreshadows the promise land 20) The Sabbath is linked with believing the words of Yeshua 21) The Sabbath will be kept during the Messianic Era and for all eternity The word Shabbat is also used to describe the holidays; Passover and Unleavened Bread, the First of the Harvest, Pentecost,Tabernacles, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, all these are referred to as Shabbat. The word Shabbat is used to describe the weekly Sabbath, the feast, the sabbatical year in the Jubilee year. These four uses of the word Shabbat teaches us a basic principle of the Torah. The weekly Shabbat is a day of rest. On that we produced nothing. We enjoy what we have created and the other 6 days of the week. It is not that we must rest completely, which denotes the Shabbat, but it is our ceasing from trying to impose our will on nature. Obviously, it is more work to walk a mile to sure than to strike a match. Walking to shull is allowed, but striking a match is not. Man was created to be both mediator and creator. On Shabbat we are to reaffirm our role as man the mediator. We are also to proclaim loudly and clearly that a person’s word does not depend on whether he can produce. Man has many roles in this world, and only one is producing. Man has dignity even if he does not produce. We reject completely the notion that when human beings stop being able to produce, that they should be done away with. That is, of course, what Hitler did when he got rid of the mental defectives and retarded. The word Shabbat is also used for the holidays. Holidays celebrate the spiritual experiences which occurred to the entire people of Israel. Passover, Tabernacles, and Pentecost celebrated historical events when God touched the lives of the total community. These holidays teaches the importance of community, and help each of us provide the needs a community in order to be spiritually whole, and how we should all have the right to form religious communities so we can reach up to God. In communist Russia today people are looked at as a means to and end. People exist to serve the state, to serve the so-called interests of the working class. The community is not allowed to form if it does not serve the purpose of state communism. Fascism, too, is based on the same premise that the individual exists for the state, and Naziism is based on the principle that the individual exists for the state or the nation. All these ideas are denied when we call the holidays Shabbat. We proclaim that man was created to serve God, and not other men or creations of man. The third use of the word Shabbat teaches us that we are responsible for each other’s welfare. The sabbatical year proclaims that the highest values are nonmaterial values but spiritual values, and that we must learn to share our wealth with the poor and unfortunate, that man’s power is limited and should be limited, and that we have to recognize the limits of our power, that we cannot continually hold people and it, that we cannot use tricks or company stores and serfdom to enslave people, that we cannot use economic devices to subjugate people as they do in South America and now North America. The forth use of the word Shabbat is connected with the Jubilee year. It says, and you shall sanctify the 50th year, and you shall proclaim freedom in the land all its inhabitants. The phrase you shall proclaim freedom in all the lands to all its inhabitants is on the Liberty Bell. The rabbis teach us that it says you shall proclaim freedom in the land to all its inhabitants and not just to its slaves because when you enslave a person, you’re forced to stay down in the mud with him. You have no freedom also if you have slaves. In South Africa today they’re realizing the truth of the statement. You cannot keep people down unless you’re willing to spend a lot of time and effort keeping them down and unless you’re willing to be cool and vicious and unless you’re willing to sale your own soul. The reason the British gave up their empire was not that they were kicked out, but it took too much time, effort and wealth to continue to subjugate the people they ruled. It was not worth corrupting of their soul for it either. There were better ways to generate wealth. In ancient days people did not know about science and technology and thoughts the only way to generate wealth was their conquest. The rabbis teach us that this wealth generated through conquest will not do us any good. One of the most important values of Shabbat stands for this freedom, and you cannot have freedom if you are enslaving others. Your freedom, too, circumscribed. If one just lives for himself, his life soon loses all meaning, and he ends up on drugs and Alcohol. Man must live for values greater than himself, and he must be willing to sacrifice for these values if his life is to have any meaning. The paradox is that in order for life to have any meaning in must be willing to risk it for values greater than life, for the values which states that the individual is important even if he does not produce, with a value which states that everyone has the right to organize a religious community to reach God, that the spiritual values in life are what counts, for the value which states that we must learn to share material things with others, and for the value of freedom. The mercy and loving kindness of Adonai is incorporated into the Shabbats. Teaching us that we are worthy of His love even when we are not doing anything. This is what our Rabbi’s taught when they advised us to labor to enter into His rest. Every commandment that we guard and preform brings us closer to Adoani. All the commandments wrapped in the Shabbat. The care for the poor. The deliverance of the captives. The proclamation of freedom to rest and to delight yourself in the one who created everything for our benefit. The message of the good news of the coming of the redeemer of Israel and the nations. The resistance to the evil of mankind and the enslavement of the world.

The Bias of Torah. Then and Now.

The New Moon And The Calendar

I would like to address the question of the New Moon and the Calendar of Israel in a way I have not seen it approached before.
My intention is not to say that there is a simple answer to the many questions we may have concerning the New Moon and the Calendar but to show a reasonable question that we all must ask one another. Did Yeshua cancel the Torah?

With that question before us let us begin our journey and see if we can find our bias in the Torah.

I believe that Adonai is a loving Father and that He teaches all His children the same principles from the very beginning, therefore the Torah has been from the very beginning of Beresheit.
Adonai would never as a loving Father teach His children different sets of principles, but He would teach them all the same Torah from the very beginning so that no one could say I did not know Your instructions. From the first man to the last man we would all know His salvation.

Brad Scott has done a wonderful series on the book Beresheit that shows all the commandments (613 commandments) embedded within the first five chapters of Beresheit.

At this point let me begin my case. Do we follow the Torah or do we not follow the Torah? One of the main arguments we have with the Church today is that Yeshua did not do away with the Torah and that all the commandments are applicable for us today. With some exceptions based on the Temple and Israel being scattered among the nations. For example we do not offer sacrifices based on the commandment of not making sacrifices outside the Temple and in the place where His name is, Jerusalem. We do not to stone people based on the law because the lack of having judges and not being together as one people in the land with one law and the Torah as our constitution.

Many in the Hebrew Roots movement say that the sacrifices were done away with and Yeshua was the last sacrifice forever. Here again, we would be faced with the statement we all believe in this religion of Biblical faith “Yeshua did not come to abolish the Torah”. Then how can we say “there is no more sacrifices” we can not have it both ways. Either Yeshua changed the Torah or He did not, period!

Ever feast that we proclaim and keep requires a sacrifice and this is forever.

Lev 23:4 ‘These are the appointed times of יהוה, set-apart gatherings which you are to proclaim at their appointed times.
Lev 23:8 ‘And you shall bring an offering made by fire to יהוה for seven days. On the seventh day is a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work.’ ”
Lev_24:9 “And it shall be for Aharon and his sons, and they shall eat it in the set-apart place, because it is most set-apart to him from the offerings of יהוה made by fire – an everlasting law.”

How did Israel determine the New Moon?

Deuteronomy 17:8 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; Deuteronomy 17:9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: Deuteronomy 17:10 And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: Deuteronomy 17:11 According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. Deuteronomy 17:12 And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. Deuteronomy 17:13 And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.

This passage from the Torah reminds me of how important it is to look to the Torah for answers to the many questions in our world today.

Questions like, how do we determine the New Moon and the Calendar?

The Torah states that things like the above are to be determined by the House of Judgement.

So you would ask, who is this House of Judgement; the Beit Din; the Sanhedrin.

Well this is the history that we have forgotten and the heritage that belongs to those who are Israel and belong to Her Constitution – the Torah.

Since the Jewish Calendar was based on witnesses’ testimony, which was too dangerous to collect during these Roman times, Hillel II recommended a mathematical Calendar that was adopted at a clandestine, and maybe last, meeting in 358 C.E.. This marked the last universal decision made by that body. Gamliel V (400-425 C.E.) was the last president. With the death of this patriarch, who was executed by Theodosius II for erecting new synagogues contrary to the imperial decree, the title Nasi, the last remains of the ancient Sanhedrin, became illegal to be used after 425 C.E..

The Sanhedrin made a decision that is backed by the events of history. Through out the history of Israel since the last Sanhedrin made the decision to adopt the Hillel calendar we find that every historical event of Israel happens on the Hillel calendar.
This is the second witness.

Here are some examples:

The 9th of Av in Scripture and History

The 9th of Av is clearly a significant date in the history of both man and the ancient Jewish people. Essentially, what this amounts to is the fact that there is extensive evidence of prophetic signs even within the Hebrew Calendar. In Grant Jeffrey’s book, Armageddon–Appointment with Destiny, he gives eight examples of disastrous events taking place on a certain date of the Jewish calendar—the 9th of Av. This in itself constitutes an amazing sign (even without heavenly signs to accompany it):
1. Ten of the 12 spies returned with a bad report on the 9th of Av. (c. 1435 BCE).
2. Solomon’s temple was destroyed by the Babylonians on the 9th of Av (c. 587 BCE).
3. The second temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE on the 9th of Av.
4. In 71 CE the Roman army plowed the city of Jerusalem with salt on the 9th of Av.
5. Bar Kochba was killed and his army destroyed on the 9th of Av, in the year 135 CE.
6. In 1290 CE, England expelled all Jews from the country on the 9th of Av.
7. In 1492, Spain expelled all Jews from their country on the 9th of Av.
8. In 1914, on the 9th of Av., World War I was declared. In Eastern Russia, the Russian government began a campaign of severe persecution against the Jews at that time.
Future Events based on the Hillel Calendar

Total Lunar
15 Nissan 5774
Total Lunar
14 Tishrei 5775
Erev Succot
Total Solar
29 Adar 5775
precedes God’s
declared start of
Total Lunar
15 Nissan 5775
Partial Solar
29 Elul 5775
precedes the
start of the
Jewish civil year
Total Lunar
15 Tishrei 5776

(135 A.D.) Betar, the last fortress to hold out against the Romans during the Bar Kochba revolt fell-over 100,000 killed

(131 A.D.) the Temple area was plowed and the pagan city of Aelia Capitolina was built by the emperor Hadrian in the year 131, and occupied by a Roman colony, on the site of Jerusalem, which was in ruins when he visited his dominion known as Syria Pal�stina.

“Aelia” came from Hadrian’s nomen gentile, Aelius, while “Capitolina” meant that the new city was dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus, to whom a temple was built on the site of the Jewish temple.

(1095 A.D.) First Crusade declared by Pope Urban II -10,000 Jews killed in the first month by crusaders en route the holy land

(1190 A.D.) The anti-Jewish riots and the mass suicide of the Jews of York, England in 1190.

(1290 A.D.) Expulsion of Jews from England. On this day in 1290, King Edward I signed the edict compelling the Jews to leave England.

(1306 A.D.) On July 22, 1306, the tenth of Av, the Jews of France were arrested and ordered to leave the country. Approximately 100,000 were forced to wander in search of new homes, and many perished along the way. The Jewish community was not aware of the planned expulsion, as France’s king, Phillip the ‘Fair’, did not want them to flee in advance with their assets. One of the monarch’s motives for expelling the Jews was financial. Phillip saw plundering Jewish wealth as a way to shore up France’s economic woes.

(1492 A.D.) King Ferdinand of Spain issued the expulsion decree by order of the Spanish inquisition, setting Tisha B’Av as the final date by which not a single Jew would be allowed to walk on Spanish soil. The Alhambra Decree, issued March 31, 1492, ordered all Jews (200,000) to leave Spain by the end of July 1492. July 31, 1492 was Tisha B’Av.

(1905 A.D.) On August 11,1905, the tenth of Av, the British Aliens Act was passed. In the late 19th century, England was a haven for tens of thousands of Jews fleeing oppression in Russia. Many of the immigrants made their way to the East End of London. Their continuous flow had slowly aroused the opposition of many British lawmakers. Some as far back as the 1880’s dubbed the immigration wave, “the alien invasion.”

(1914 A.D.) World War I � which began the downward slide to the Holocaust � began on Tisha B�av.

(1929 A.D.) On this very same date (Tisha B’Av), the Arabs began their riots in the city of Jerusalem, which resulted in great tragedy, including the Jewish massacre in Hebron (Chevron). On the tenth of Av in 1929, Arab hatred of Zionism once again boiled over into full-scale riots. On August 16, 1929, as a newly constructed door near the Wall was opened, Jewish worshippers were attacked, despite British assurances.

The next day, thousands of Arabs armed with clubs, swords and daggers converged upon the Mosque of Omar to hear impassioned hate speeches. The cry of “slaughter the Jews” spread throughout the Holy Land. Over the next ten days, Arab riots would take the lives of 133 Jews and leave 339 wounded. In Hebron and elsewhere, Jewish communities were ravaged by Arab mobs.

Throughout the Arab world, mass demonstrations were held in sympathy with the Palestinian Arabs. In Iraq, 10,000 assembled in anger over the victims of “British Zionist aggression.” This pressured the British to yield to Arab terms: Passfield White Paper of 1929, and the MacDonald White Paper of 1939 imposed severe restrictions on Jewish immigration into the Land of Israel — subject to Arab consent.

(1942 A.D.) Deportation of Jews from Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka Concentration Camp began on this day in 1942.

(1989 A.D.) Iraq walks out on talks with Kuwait

(1994 A.D.) Bombing of the JCC in Buenos Aires, Argentina-86 killed

(2005 A.D.) In 2005, on the tenth of Av, the government of Israel began the Gaza Disengagement, where 9,000 Jewish residents were evicted from their homes. Despite mass rallies against the disengagement, and an orange-ribbon campaign, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon implemented the plan with the hope of reducing security concerns and diffusing the demographic problem of Gaza’s 1.5 million Arabs. Upon completion of the evacuation, all 21 Jewish communities in Gaza were bulldozed and destroyed. Only the synagogues were left standing; these were then torched by Arab mobs.

NOTE: 1492 expulsion –
If you use a Jewish calendar converter to check this, it may show July 31 as the 27th of Tammuz. If so, the converter has failed to take into account the Gregorian Reformation, which skipped 11 days on the calendar. If you add the 11 missing days and convert August 11 instead of July 31, you will see that “August 11” is 9 Av.

What our forefathers had to do in dire straights to keep Torah alive.

After the Destruction of the Temple, Yavneh became the spiritual center of the people, and the secret of its survival. Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai re-organized the Sanhedrin, which fixed the date of each new month and the time of each leap year. From Yavneh he sent instructions to the scattered Jewish communities in matters of law and observance, and Jews from all over the Diasproa turned to Yavneh for answers and advice. Without any formal declaration [and without the immediate participation of the leading scholars of the generation], Yavneh became the new center of the Jewish people. When the Sanhedrin proclaimed the beginning of a new month, messengers were sent out to the more remote communities, and fire signals were used to communicate the news to the Jews in Babylonia. In deliberating on whether to add a month to the year, the Sanhedrin considered whether bad weather woul dprevent the far-flung exiles from arriving in Jerusalem in time for the Pesach pilgrimage. It is true that with the arrival of Ezra and his followers Jerusalem had returned to its place of pre-eminence in Jewish life, and it was from there, and especially the Sanhedrin, that authoritative instructions went forth to Jews everywhere. Nevertheless, the study of Torah had continued throughout all these years in Babylonia uninterrupted. [HOJP I, p201-203]
The origin of the Sanhedrin can be found in the Council of the seventy elders founded by Moshe Rabbenu (Moses): “Gather to Me 70 men of the elders of Israel… and bring them to the Tent of Meeting, so that they should stand there with you” (Numbers 11:16). This was the first Sanhedrin. Counting Moses himself, it consisted of 71 members. Further, G-d commanded Moshe Rabbenu to lay hands on Yehoshua [Joshua] son of Nun. It is from this point that the Sanhedrin is considered as beginning. As individuals within the Sanhedrin passed away, or otherwise became unfit for service, new members underwent Semicha ordination. These ordinations continued, in an unbroken line: from Moshe Rabbenu to Yehoshua, to the elders, to the prophets (including Ezra, Nehemiah), to the Knesses HaGedolah or Great Assembly, to the sages of the Sanhedrin. It was not until several hundred years after the destruction of the Second Temple that this line was broken, and the Sanhedrin dissolved.
References to the Sanhedrin can be found in the council created by Yehoshafat: “Moreover in Jerusalem, Yehoshaphat appointed Levites and priests, and of the heads of the fathers’ houses of Israel, for the judgment of the L-rd, and for controversies. They returned to Jerusalem.” (2 Chronicles 19:8) According to the Talmud (Meod Katon, 26a), King Saul was president of the Sanhedrin in his reign, and his son Jonathan was vice-president. 1. (
Under Roman rule

The Sanhedrin met in a building known as Lishkat Ha-Gazith or the Hall of Hewn Stones, which has been placed by many scholars as built into the north wall of the Temple Mount, half inside the sanctuary and half outside, with doors providing access both to the Temple and to the outside. The name presumably arises to distinguish it from the buildings in the Temple complex used for ritual purposes, which had to be constructed of stones unhewn by any iron implements.
In 63 BCE, Pompey was invited to intervene in the civil war between the sons of Yannai, Aristobulus and Hyrkanus. He did so and conquered Jerusalem, and placing Hyrkanus as a puppet king. Antipater, an advisor to Hyrkanus was a favorite of Rome and held the real reigns of power. Six years later, Antipater advised Roman proconsul Gabinius to divide the country into five provinces. Gabinius disbanded the Sanhedrin and handed their functions over to local councils made up Sadducees and their followers. This lasted until Julius Caesar rose to power. As a gesture to his conquered provinces, he displayed a liberal attitude towards the Jews in Judea and in the other countries of his empire. He annulled the harsh Pompeian orders that included the abolition of the Sanherin. He allowed a central Jewish government in Jerusalem, permitted the rebuilding of its walls, and restored to the Jewish state the port city of Jaffa and other cities.[HOJP I, 122-5]
Antipater treated the Land of Israel as if it were his private property. His older son he appointed governor of the Jerusalem area, and his younger son, Herod, he made governor of Galilee in the north. Herod immediately revealed his brutal nature. He arrested many of the young Galilean patriots together with their leader Chizkiyahu, and without any semblance of a trial executed them. With the mass murder Herod forfeited his life. According to Jewish law he should have been tried before the Sanhedrin, but Roman law left the Jewish courts without the power to compel the accused to appear before them. The community leaders and the relatives of the slain turned to Hyrkanus, the Nassi and the High Priest, and did not desist until he agreed to convene a special court of the “Sanhedrin”. Among the recognized sages who participated was Shammai, the disciple of Shemaya and Avtalyon, already known as a leading scholar. Herod accepted the summons, but decided to intimidate the judges. He appeared before them wearing royal garments of purple and escorted by a retinue of soldiers. Many of the judges were afraid to speak up. Only Shammai remained strong, and under his leadership they were prepared to condemn Herod to death, but Hyrkanus came to his aid. He ordered the verdict to be postponed to until the net day. During the night, Herod fled to Damascus. As the commanding general of Lebanon, he gathered troops and marched on Jerusalem, intending to avenge himself on the Jewish leaders who had dared to judge him. He was stopped by his father Antipater, but not many years later he took revenge and murdered the judges. [HOJP I, p125]
Herod’s son and successor, Archelaus, was no better. Archelaus called upon Roman soldiers bloodily to assert his authority over Jerusalem. On Pesach, the foreign soldiers killed some 3,000 Jews and drove the others away. This was repeated on Shavous, as a demonstration of Archelaus’ power. A Jewish delegation was dispatched to Augustus. The Jews presented their case in stirring words. They described their sufferings under the Herodian regime and requested restoration of the Sanhedrin as the final authority in purely internal matters, while political control should be int he hands of the Roman consul in Damascus. Had Augstus accepted the plea of the Jews, life in their homeland would have returned to what it had been in the days of the Men of the Great Assembly, when the Sages of the Torah directed the life of the peple, while foreigners controlled external and political matters. But Heaven decided otherwise, and their plea was rejected. Archelaus was not appointed king, but rather given the title of “Ethnarch” or govenor. When even the Samaritans joined the Jews in their complaints against Archelaus, Augustus Caesar was convinced. He removed Archelaus from his position and banished him to Gaul (modern-day France). This begins the chapter in Jewish History known as the era of the Roman procurators. [HOJP I, p141]
During the many decades when then Jewish monarchy failed to provide proper leadership, the people looked for guidance to the Sages, especially the Zugos (marked below in blue). By the time of the first Zugos, during the civil war of the two Hasmonean brothers, the High Priesthood had already become a political pawn. High Priests began to be replaced with increasingly rapid frequency. The spiritual leadership of the people lay with Shemaya and Avtalyon. Acting on their advice, the Torah scholars of the time retreated from political and nationalistic matters. This enabled them to continue the study and teaching of the Torah even under the most trying circumstances, and this assured that the Jewish people would pass on the heritage of Sinai from generation to generation. However even this did not prevent Gabinius from abolishing the Sanhedrin in the first year of the common era. When he abolished the great Sanhedrin, there was no institution to decide on matters which were crucial to the people as a whole, such as the calendar. After a number of years the Sanhedrin returned to the Chamber of Hewn Stone in the Temple, but it lacked authority and could not act independently with fear of intervention by Roman oficials who, directly or indirectly ruled the land. The Sages therefore thougt it advisable to hand over some of the basic functions of the Sanhedrin, including determination of the calendar, to one of the most respected families in Jerusalem, the family of Beseira. As long as the Edomites [Herodians] ruled the land, the Sages realized that there was little reason to believe that in the foreseeable future the Sanhedrin would be restored to its former power. The therefore sought a more effective way to administer the religious and moral life of th epeople. The opportunity came with the arrival of Hillel on the sceen of Jewish history. [based on HOJP I, pp.142-143]
Hillel and Shammai received from Shemaya and Avtalyon the authority to interpret and transmit the Torah Upon the death of Shemaya and Avtalyon, Hillel returned to Babylonia. When he came back to the Holy Land many years later, the land was in the grip of Herod’s despotic rule. With Hillel’s appointment as Nasi, there began a new era in the annals o fhte Jewish people. Previously, the Nasi has been elected only by the members of the Sanhedrin. The new conditions of life in Eretz Yisrael, however, forced a change in this procedure. No longer could the Sanhedrin be given the sole authority over the choice of Nasi, because the Romans appointed and removed the membership of the Sanhedrin at will, according to their own political considerations. The Sages decided, therefore, that Hillel should be chosen not by the Sanhedrin alone, but by all the scholars of the great House of Study in Jerusalem. As a result of this new procedure, Hillel and all the Nesi’im who followed him were not only the heads of the Sanhedrin, but also the recognized leaders of the people. True, they had neither police nor army to impose their will upon the people, but the people responded to them voluntarily, because they knew that the voice of the Torah spoke through them and that their decisions were based upon broad agreement among the Sages of Israel. [HOJP I, pp.144-145]
Since Gabinius from abolishing the [independant] Sanhedrin in the first year of the common era, there was no single authority competent to decide the many halachic dispures between the nation’s outstanding Torah scholars. Many such questions remained unresolved until one generation after the Destruction of the Temple. At that time Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai established a central yeshiva at Yavneh [Sanhedrin], where the rule was adopted that in most case the Halachah follows the view of Beis Hillel. [HOJP I, pp.144-146]
As a rule, the Romans did not intervene in the internal affairs of the native provinces. Because their interest was in political contral and personal enrichment, they found it convenient to allow the Jewish leaders to regulate the internal matters of their people. So it happened, paradoxically, in 20 CE when the political independence of the people in Judea came to an end, they were granted a significant degree of local self-government. The Great Sanhedrin was restored to its rightful place in the Chamber of Hewn Stone alongside the Temple; there they could once more lead the nation according to the laws of the Torah and regulate everyday life for the common good. The leaders of the Sanhedrin supervised the Temple service and disbursements from its treasury. The sense of order and tranquility, that had so long been absent, returned to Judea. [HOJP I, pp.149]
The time of relative calm did not last long. The Sadducees could not tolerate the raising of the Sages from the Pharisee camp to positions of power and control and sought ways to regain their lost power and influence. The Sadducees quickly realized that th eoffice of High Priest held the best promise to acheive this aim. The Roman rulers followed Herod’s example of bestowing this sacred office upon the highest bidder. As the Sadducees had no lack of money, the offered huge personal bribes to the procurators, and a candidate of their choice became High Priest. The Roman officials soon realized that the office of High Priest was an infallible source of income. At frequent intervals, they would dismiss the current Kohen Gadol and auction off the position to the highest bidder. The priestige of the office thus siffered during this period as the Kohen Gadol came to be regarded as a petty politician who was appointed by the secular government and cared only about his own glory and enrichment. In the course of time, with their numbers growing, they became a domineering aristocracy and together with their relativs and friends, they abused the people and brougth about the Destruction of the Temple. (Pesachim 57a) [HOJP I, pp.149]
Under procurator Pontius Pilate, there were several acts of aggression against the Jewish people, and these bloody incidents could easily have served as a signal for popular uprisings throughout the country. But the wisdom of the Sages and the Sanhedrin prevailed, and order was maintained. It appears from a Mishnah (Eduyos 7:7) that Rabban Gamliel the Elder (son of Hillel’s son Rabban Shimon), as Nasi of the Sanhedrin, went to Damascus to talk to the proconsul Vitellius about the various current problems and impressed upon him the savagery of his representative in Judea. As a result of this protest and the complaints of the Samaritans, who were also oppressed, Pontius Pilate was removed from his office and recalled to Rome. [HOJP I, p149]
In 66 CE, the great revolt against Rome raged through the whole of Eretz Yisrael, the inhabitants were divided into three factions: (1) the party on the side of Agrippa and the Romans; (2) the great mass of the poor, who were partizans of the rebellion; and (3) the neutrals, including the historian Justus of Tiberias, who were neither friendly to Rome nor eager for the revolution. The revolutionaries, headed by Yeshua ben Zopha, archon of the city, soon gained control; but the Roman faction would not give way. When, therefore, John of Giscala lodged a complaint in the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem against Josephus, who was then at Tiberias, the council sent to the city an embassy of four men with 2,500 troops. Josephus at first sought to annul the decision of the Sanhedrin; but his efforts proved unsuccessful, and, compelling the embassy to return to Jerusalem, he subdued the revolutionary party, whereupon the Roman sympathizers appealed to Agrippa for aid, which he refused to grant. After Vespasian had conquered the greater part of Galilee, however, Tiberias voluntarily opened its gates to him, and favor was shown the inhabitants for Agrippa’s sake. [JE Tiberias]
The two leading Torah personalities at the end of the Second Temple period were Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, dean of the Sanhedrin, and Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, of the family of Hillel, the Nasi. Of the two, the undisputed leader was Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai. He counteracted every attempt of the Sadducees to tamper with the Halachah. The importance of his success in this defense of the Torah is highlighted by the fact that the Sages proclaimed as minor holidays the occasion swhen Rabban Yochanan defeated his Sadducean opponents. In his capacity as president or Nasi of the Sanhedrin, he participated in the central government, and led the political opposition to the treacherous conduct of Josephus in the Galilee. The Sages, led by Rabban Yochanan and Rabban Shimon generally supported the political line of the more moderate Zealots in their reisistance to Rome. However, when they realized that because of the internal conflicts and wars there was nochance of withstanding the Romans, they chose to take the initiative in a daring action to save Jerusalem and the Holy Temple from total destruction. Rabban Yochanan pledged non-involvement in the revolt to Vespasian in return for three things: “give me Yavneh and its sages [to reconstitute the Sanhedrin]”, the family of [Hillel] Rabban Shimon ben Galiel should not come to harm, Vespasian should provide a physician for the R’Tzadok, the tzaddik of the generation who had been fasting and praying that Jerusalem and the Temple should be spared from destruction. [HOJP I, p183-184]
After the Destruction of the Temple, Yavneh became the spiritual center of the people, and the secret of its survival. Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai re-organized the Sanhedrin, which fixed the date of each new month and the time of each leap year. From Yavneh he sent instructions to the scattered Jewish communities in matters of law and observance, and Jews from all over the Diasproa turned to Yavneh for answers and advice. Without any formal declaration [and without the immediate participation of the leading scholars of the generation], Yavneh became the new center of the Jewish people. When the Sanhedrin proclaimed the beginning of a new month, messengers were sent out to the more remote communities, and fire signals were used to communicate the news to the Jews in Babylonia. In deliberating on whether to add a month to the year, the Sanhedrin considered whether bad weather woul dprevent the far-flung exiles from arriving in Jerusalem in time for the Pesach pilgrimage. It is true that with the arrival of Ezra and his followers Jerusalem had returned to its place of pre-eminence in Jewish life, and it was from there, and especially the Sanhedrin, that authoritative instructions went forth to Jews everywhere. Nevertheless, the study of Torah had continued throughout all these years in Babylonia uninterrupted. [HOJP I, p201-203]

There is much more evidence than just this in the Torah, starting with Jethro and Moshe.

Exodus 18:13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.
Exodus 18:14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?
Exodus 18:15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:
Exodus 18:16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.

Seventy Elders

Exodus_24:1 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.

Exodus_24:9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:

Numbers_11:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.

Numbers_11:24 And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.
Numbers_11:25 And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

Later in our history we find that the Sanhedrin is still functioning just as Adonai commanded it from the Torah. Let me interject here that we find through out the history of this court Israel was in rebellion or functioning outside the Torah. Many times you will find even the Judges outside the Torah.
1Samuel_1:3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.
1Sa_2:12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.

1Samuel_2:22 Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

Was the above Sanhedrin of Eli a legitimate Sanhedrin?

What about the book of Judges and the Sanhedrin en-charge during those days?

Here are some of the men that served on the Sanhedrin; Zerubavel ben She’altiel, a descendant of King David; Yohoshua [Joshua] ben Yehotzadak [Jehozadok], the High Priest; Nechemiah [Nehemiah]; Mordechai; and the Prophets; Chaggai [Haggai], Zechariah and Malachi. Yehoshua and Zerubavel appointed the Levites to supervise the work, while the questions of halachah which arose in the course of construction were decide by the Sages of the Sanhedrin, among who were many prophets. [HOJP I, 25]

Here is the history of this great assembly and the many decision that were made through out the history of Adonai’s people. Should we not follow its instuctions?

Deuteronomy 17:8 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose;

How was Hillel II allowed to change the Jewish calendar?
Declaring the new month by observation of the new moon, and the new year by the arrival of spring, can only be done by the Sanhedrin. In the time of Hillel II, the last President of the Sanhedrin, the Romans prohibited this practice. Hillel II was therefore forced to institute his fixed calendar, thus in effect giving the Sanhedrin’s advance approval to the calendars of all future years. Until Hillel II’s time, the calendar varied irregularly because it depended on the testimony of witnesses who had seen the new moon, and this didn’t always happen on the first possible night. When Hillel II fixed the calendar, there was no reason not to do it so as to prevent the holidays from coming at inconvenient times; the fluctuations of the fixed calendar don’t exceed the variations in the calendar when it depended on witnesses.

Lunar Cycle

Rabbinical Mathematics and

Adapted Excerpts from Rabbinical Mathematics and Astronomy by W. M. Feldman
Published in London by M. L. Cailingold, 6, OLD MONTAGUE STREET, E.1 in 1931 A.D.
The Examination of Witnesses
“At the mouth of two Witnesses shall the matter be established”
4 Babylonian Talmud – Rosh Hashanah 24A And Moses declared the appointed seasons of the Lord; [Leviticus 23:44]; from this we learn that the head of the Beth din says,
‘sanctified’ And all the people respond after him, ‘It is sanctified! It is sanctified!’
5 Mishna – Rosh Hashanah 2.2 – 2.4 Originally they accepted testimony about the new moon from anyone, [but] after the heretics did harm, they [the Sages] enacted that they
[the beis din] should not accept [testimony] except from known people.

Scripture Only, Please

Scripture Only, Please

Asking Questions

Judaism is the way of life that Hashem gave us at Mount Sinai, and taught to us in the Sinai Desert.

It includes a Written Torah and an Oral Torah.

It has always included an Oral Torah, and in fact, some of the Commandments were first taught to us orally before we had them in writing. But by and the large, we were taught both at the same time. Hashem would recite a paragraph of the Written Torah to Moses, telling him what to write, letter by letter. Hashem would then teach Moses the details of that Law, along with the deeper meanings, the applications of that Law, and all concepts related to it.

It is impossible to fulfill the Commandments of the Torah without the Oral Torah, because we need to know those details.

On the other hand, if we had only the Oral Torah, it would be possible to fulfill the Commandments. The Written Torah’s function is primarily to prevent the Oral Torah from being forgotten.

The Written Torah is similar to a series of very brief notes a student writes at a lecture. I attended a class once in which I wrote in my notebook: “DY = 2; SY = 1.” Do you have any idea what that means? How could you? It means: “A double yellow line in the middle of the road means it is a two-way road, a single yellow line means it is a one-way road.” When you know what was said in the class, the notes make perfect sense to you. If you do not know what was said at the lecture, you cannot understand the notes.

Hashem created the Torah two thousand years before He created the universe. That refers to both the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. The Oral Torah is the extended “lecture.” The Written Torah contains the brief notes that make certain that we do not forget the “lecture.” Thus, in a sense, the Oral Torah gives us the context of the Written Torah.

I sometimes get questions from people who insist that I prove something from “Scriptural sources.” Christians, and those who follow their example, will accept only what is written in the Written Torah. (Which is surprising, considering the fact that they don’t obey the Scriptures anyway.)

Well, sorry, but quoting Scripture is not necessary. Judaism includes both a Written Torah and an Oral Torah, and it has always included both. If it is in the Oral Torah, it is Torah, and that’s a good enough source. If neither the Written nor the Oral Torah mention something, then it is not Torah. But if the Talmud teaches something, it is Torah, and therefore it is Judaism.

Which explains the title of this article: “Scripture Only, Please,” based on the request that I sometimes get. And my answer always is: I don’t have to quote Scripture when explaining Judaism. It is sufficient to quote Talmud and other Rabbinic Writings.

I teach Judaism, not Christianity. Christendom in general (yes, I know there are some exceptions) is ignorant of the origin and purpose of the Oral Torah. The truth is that the Christians got their opposition to the Oral Torah from a movement even earlier than Christianity. It came from the Sadducees, who rejected the Oral Torah because it prevented them from imitating the Greek lifestyle.

Demanding that I quote Scripture, and not accepting the Rabbis’ teachings, is contrary to Judaism. Still, whenever possible, I like to quote Jewish Scripture (which we refer to as Tanach) as well as the Talmud and Rabbis, because, after all, it is part of the Torah.

Now, I’m not saying that questions are forbidden. Quite the contrary! Judaism encourages questions. But if you approach a Rabbi with the argument that, “You are wrong, everything you say is wrong, and all of Judaism is wrong, because I don’t see it in the Scriptures,” you are probably not going to get much of an answer. In fact, you have probably already rejected the answer before you have even heard it!

The key is in being polite, sensitive, and open to learning.

But it is certainly acceptable to ask a Rabbi to explain a certain position, saying, for example, “I know that Orthodox Judaism believes in concept A. But doesn’t the Torah say such and such that implies the opposite?” Or “Why does the Torah seem to contradict itself in these two places?” There is always an answer to that sort of question!

It doesn’t mean that every Rabbi has the answer to every question, of course. Learning the answer to every question would take a long time to achieve. But the answer is always there, and it is all in the Oral Torah.

Which brings us to the most important point: When we seek answers in depth, it is to the Oral Torah that we turn, supported as it is by the Written Torah, and which in turn supports the Written Torah. The Oral Torah is pivotal and vital to Judaism. So to ask us to ignore the Oral Torah is completely unacceptable. It would be like trying to use a computer without a monitor.

And if you’ve ever tried to do that, you know just what a waste of time that can be.