An Introduction to the Talmud by Dr. Harris Brody
Dr. Harris Brody
Recently a Jewish lady in a nursing home rolled her wheelchair out of the Bible study. A nurse pushed her back in. At the end of the Bible study I greeted her. She greeted me with, "I am Jewish." I told her, "So am I, praise the Lord!" To her, as with most Jewish people, being Jewish includes rejecting Yeshua as Messiah and Savior and accepting the Rabbis' teachings of the Talmud as authoritative. One Jewish student at Temple University said that the Tenach (the Old Testament) is only an index to the Talmud. "The Talmud," he said, "is the Word of God, not the Bible, at least not in the same way."
What Is the Talmud?
Just what is the Talmud? Basically it is a very old collection of the sayings of rabbis of all ages and in all parts of the world. It is a commentary on the Tenach (Jewish Bible). Among other things, it contains much devotional and inspirational material. The Talmud is the civil and canonical law of the Jewish people. It contains references not only to the religious life but also to philosophy, medicine, history, jurisprudence and practical duty. More particularly it prescribes dietary and ceremonial regulations. Most Jews today have never seen a Talmud and know little or nothing of its contents. However, what they hear and learn from their rabbis and from tradition, they accept without question. Most do not even realize that the rabbis quarrel among themselves in the Talmud and many questions discussed by them remain unanswered.
One needs to always remember that the Talmud is only a commentary; not the inspired Word of God. A knowledge of it can be a great asset in ministry to my brethren in the flesh. By studying the Talmud one can better understand Jewish people.
The Talmud contains much that is beautiful and admirable; it is of high ethical standards. There is much that refers to the Messiah. Based on its teachings either the Messiah has already come or else He will never come. Note these quotes concerning the Messiah:
"All the prophets prophesied not but of the days of the Messiah" (Sanhedrin 99a).
"All the prophets prophesied concerning, or up to, the days of the Messiah; but beyond that eye hath not seen, O God, besides Thee"(Berakoth [or Berachoth] 34b).
We will deal with this subject later in our study.
A Jew who truly believes in the Talmud must conclude that Yeshua is Messiah. Otherwise, the Talmud and God are unreliable.
The Talmud's Beginnings
The Talmud had its roots in the Babylonian captivity (588 BC). God had permitted the Jews to go into exile because of their sin, especially the sin of idolatry. This captivity had a purifying effect on the Jews. They saw first hand the vileness of the heathen cults in Babylon and they longed again to worship God in holiness at Jerusalem. They realized that they had suffered because they had forsaken the Law of God (Torah - five books of Moses) and gone after other gods. They resolved not to do it again. Ezekiel's message and the elders of Judah, who sat under the prophet's teaching, made an impact on the Jewish community (Ezekiel 8:1;14:1; 20:1).
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