Why Study the Torah?
Why is it important that we
study the five books of Moses? What can we learn about our Messiah and the
New Covenant from honoring the Torah?
Most of you who have been
reading this [website] have the understanding that you are indeed
Israel. But, if true (and it is), then we need to see how Israel is (or
how we are) to live.
To begin, we need to see that Israel
was given a document called the Torah --- which contained certain
covenants of promise (Ephesians 2:12). This Torah is our how to
But, through the years, this treaty has often been
misunderstood, rejected, and even abused, by both Judah and
We hope to sift through the misunderstandings and gain a
fresh perspective, that we might get a glimpse of why it is so important
to study Torah.
Torah Means Teaching
To begin, we need to understand what is meant
by the word, Torah. It can refer to the first five books of the Bible,
i.e. Genesis through Deuteronomy. However, Rabbinic Judaism usually uses
this term to include the Written Torah
(the first five Books of the
Bible) as well as the Oral Torah
, which is the teachings of the
rabbis passed on from generation to generation.
For our purposes we
will use it to refer to the Written Torah as well as to the Living
, which is Messiah YAHUSHUA (John 1:1).
meaning(s) of the word Torah is essential to our comprehension of who we
are as children of Israel. Rabbi Hertz, writes, Torah does not and never
did mean law
, it means teaching
Following Torah is
not a way to find eternal salvation! That is found only in Messiah
YAHUSHUA! Instead, Torah is a group of teachings that our gracious heavenly
Father has given us to instruct us in our community life, as well as in
our personal walk as Believers. It teaches us how to live in relation to
King David speaks of this in Psalm 119:105: Your word
is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Now that we
understand these essential truths let us see how Messiah YAHUSHUA felt
To get a picture of YAHUSHUAs relationship to
the Torah, we go to the Sermon on the Mount. Imagine the
YAHUSHUA has an enormous crowd in front of Him, and He takes
this time to explain how He feels about the Torah:
We begin in
Do not think I have come to abolish the Torah and
the Prophets, I have not come to abolish but to fulfill.
believe YAHUSHUA is saying that He will fulfill the Torah in the sense of
fulfilling its prophesies
. And although He did do this, there is
yet another way to look at this verse, one that better fits the context of
what YAHUSHUA says next.Fulfill
terms used by the rabbis in YAHUSHUAs day when they were discussing
interpretations of Scripture. Abolish
was a term used to describe
an interpretation that was not correct
, and, fulfill
term used to describe a proper interpretation of the
Armed with this understanding, we see that YAHUSHUA
is saying that He had come to give the proper, God-intended
interpretation of the Torah!
When we begin to understand this
important point, we begin to see YAHUSHUA as the greatest Torah teacher
(Rabbi) of all time.
Next, YAHUSHUA says in verse 18:
indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a
or a stroke shall pass from the Torah --- not until everything
that has happened must happen.
YAHUSHUA is saying not even the
minutest mark (stroke) or smallest letter (yud
) will be
And, if we look outside, we see that heaven and earth
are still there!
In other words, the Torah is here to
Reading on in verse 18:
So whoever disobeys the least
of these commandments and so teaches others to do so will be called the
least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever obeys them and so teaches will
be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Here, not only is
YAHUSHUA saying that the Torah will always be here but that the teachers
and doers of the Torah will be blessed. In fact, YAHUSHUA instructs us to
teach the Torah to all the nations of the earth.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded
One might say YAHUSHUA is speaking of His commandments. But
here are two points:
First, everything that YAHUSHUA taught was
from the Torah and, He did not teaching anything that was not from Torah.
Second, YAHUVEH gave the Torah, and, if YAHUSHUA is YAHUVEH, then they are
one and the same, and, YAHUSHUAs commandments are YAHUVEHs (more on this
In summation, YAHUSHUA taught Torah, and we are instructed
to bring Torah to the people of all nations, and YAHUSHUA blessed Torah
What Does Torah
What does the Torah teach? How can it help
A friend of mine told me about a conversation he once had with
a man. He was talking to him about the importance of Torah, and he asked
the man, What does YAHUSHUA say are the two greatest
The man replied, To love YAHUVEH your God with all
your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as
My friend said back to him,
you do that?
Thats what Torah
How to find your way.
says the whole Torah hangs on these two commandments. This means, the
whole of Torah is built upon two principles. They are like two major
points in an outline, and the rest of the Torah is made up of minor points
that explain the major points.
Torah teaches us how to love YAHUVEH
with all our heart, soul, and mind and how to love our neighbor as
In particular, we are told to, Love YAHUVEH your God
with all your heart, soul, and mind.
As Believers we want to serve
YAHUVEH with all of our life, offering our bodies as living sacrifices
(Romans 12:1), but, we often get confused as to how best to do
Again, our loving Father knows our heart and He has already
provided for us a manual
for our lives. That manual is the
To best serve Him, we need to understand Him, and to
understand His character, His relationship to us, and where we stand with
Him. And, from the Torah we can learn all that.
In Torah we see
that in the beginning our God created man in His own image, and then
breathed life info him (Genesis 1:26; 2:7). And, we see that we are His
representatives on Planet Earth, and that we are to imitate Him and be
holy [set-apart], even as He is holy (Leviticus 1:45). We hear for the
first time in Genesis of the Nation of Israel, and of YAHUVEHs bride, and
of Israels Land, and of the covenant He made with them. We see how much
He loved us in the story of the Exodus, and how much our sin grieves Him
in the story of the Flood. And, He reveals His essential characteristics
to Moses in Exodus 34:6-7:
YAHUVEH passed before him and
proclaimed, YAHUVEH, YAHUVEH! A God compassionate and gracious, slow to
anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the
thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He
does not remit all punishment, but visits the iniquity of parents upon
children and childrens children, upon the third and forth
Granted that these truths are expanded upon in the
(re)new(ed) covenant, but we need to understand them in their basic root
form in the First Covenant, in the Torah. For, if not, we will miss their
in the renewed covenant.
YAHUVEH reveals His inward
self throughout the Torah to us. For, He wants us, His bride, to know Him
The Torah also reveals some very practical points about
how to serve YAHUVEH. For example, we learn of special times in which He
wishes to meet with us so He can reveal spiritual truths.
times are called the Feasts of Israel, and they are outlined in
Leviticus 23. The word for them in Hebrew is moedim
, it literally
means appointed times
. These times are days and seasons when YAHUVEH
wants His congregation, as a unit, to appear before Him. At that time,
they are to rehearse
a specific aspect of their
do this, year after year, we
these principles relate to our
own salvation walk. For instance, in
Exodus 12:17 we are introduced to the seven day observance of Unleavened
Bread. And we are told to remove all the leaven from our houses and not to
consume it. But, it doesnt stop there. Rav Shaul (Rabbi Paul) expands
this to its fullest meaning in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8:
Dont you know
the saying, It takes only a little yeast to leaven the whole batch of
dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you can be a new batch of dough,
because in reality you are unleavened. For our Pesach (Passover) lamb, the
Messiah, has been sacrificed. So let us celebrate the Feast not with
leftover yeast, the yeast of wickedness and evil, but with the unleavened
bread of purity and truth.
Here Shaul is saying that the Festival
of Unleavened Bread, which comes right after, depicts the time when we
begin to remove the sin from our lives. We want to be pure in YAHUSHUA, but
its not an overnight change. Instead, it is a daily practice. It is
something we work on, after we are saved. So we see the season of
Another example of Torah teaching is our need for
atonement. We cannot serve God completely without it, and so we read in
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I
have assigned it to you for making atonement for your lives upon the
altar; it is the blood, as life, that atones.
The writer of
Hebrews expands this point in verse 9:22:
According to the Torah,
almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of
blood there is no forgiveness of sin.
We need blood atonement,
and, with the Temple no longer standing, there is only one
YAHUSHUA. The answer is, He Whose sacrifice was greater than any
offered in the Temple. He is now our atonement. And, we need to apply His
blood to our temple
(body) to be purified.
As we read
through the Torah we learn of all the sacrifices, and we can see more how
much YAHUSHUA did for us. Even so, one objective some have to the study and
observance of Torah is that, they think it takes away from our need for
YAHUSHUA. But on the contrary, a true study of Torah makes us realize how
much more we need Him in order to serve YAHUVEH with all our heart, soul,
Love Your Neighbor As
Living with others is difficult to do,
especially when our flesh gets in the way. So, we need a code to live by
that will help us overcome our weaknesses through instruction. In the
Torah we find that code.
Concerning that code, Jewish rabbis numbered
all of the commandments of the Torah at 613 --- with 248 of them being
called positive (celebrate Passover, observe Shabbat, etc.) and 365
being called negative (dont lie, dont kill, etc.).
actuality, Torah has an even greater number of commands. To find them we
examine YAHUSHUAs Sermon on the Mount. For, after He explains that His
goal is to give a proper interpretation of Torah, He adds to the
You have heard that our fathers
were told, Do not murder, and that anyone who commits murder will be
subject to judgment, and I tell you that anyone who even nurses anger
against his brother will be subject to judgment.
YAHUSHUA gives the
original intent of Torah, and that in it's self makes the number go far
beyond 613 commandments.
According to the Messiah, the commandment
against murder teaches us that, not only are we not to murder, but we must
not even have hate or anger in our hearts. He also says, its not enough
to not commit adultery, but, we must not even have lust in our
These heart principles are not always explicitly stated in
the Torah, but they are always there. And, if we will look for them with
the eyes of YAHUSHUA, like Him, we too will see the totality of the Torah.
If we will learn to see things His way, then through His grace, we will be
empowered to walk in His way.
So it is that the principles that
were long ago written down for us, and even their hidden meanings, teach
we are to relate to our fellow man. They even teach us to
curb human heart reactions.
Lastly, in Matthew 5:44 we
But I tell you love your enemies.
Is this a Torah
Let us look at Exodus 23:5:
If you see the donkey
of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from
helping it, you shall surely help him with it.
Here the Torah
addresses heart attitude. And it encourages us to refrain from wrong
attitudes, and instead, to show love, even to the animals of our
The Torah is full of spiritual concepts about how to Love
our neighbors as ourselves. And, it is essential that we take the Spirit
of YAHUSHUA, and His system of interpretation, into every nook and cranny
(yud and stroke) of our lives, so that we might find out how to relate to
our fellow man, also, so that our hearts might be made pure. And, without
the Torah and the Fathers Spirit, how can we possibly know what to
Our one regret in this study is that we
cant possibly cover it all. For the Torah and its concepts and teachings
are more numerous than the stars. Still, we hope you have seen that the
Torah is something that goes far beyond mere dietary laws and Sabbath. Not
that these things arent important, but Torah study and observance goes
way beyond this. So, we hope you feel encouraged to seek out this ancient
book and the wisdom that is enclosed in it.
This is not meant to
downplay the rest of Scripture, for all of it is YAHUVEHs Word. But in
fact, once you begin to build with a Torah foundation, you will find that
your new understanding will help to open up the rest of Scripture to
So we encourage you to pray and to ask YAHUVEH to show you His
heart as you embark on the study of His word.
In closing, we look
at one more Scripture. This one has to do with the two houses of
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
As Believers we have always
considered this chief cornerstone to be YAHUSHUA, and rightfully so, for,
He was rejected and despised. But there is another valid interpretation of
Rabbis such as Rav Kook (the first Chief Rabbi of
modern Israel) saw this cornerstone as the Torah that was rejected by the
nations (gentiles) and that in the end of days they would indeed return to
Who is right? Could it be both opinions are correct? Are they
one in the same? YAHUSHUA Himself says He is spoken of throughout the Torah
(Luke 24:44-45). And there is even evidence that YAHUSHUA was called The
Torah by His early followers, and truly, in greater truth that man has
ever known, YAHUSHUA walked and taught Torah, He was in essence, the
In these end-times, and as the two houses of
Ephraim and Judah, we both must admit our errors. As we do, Judah will
grieve for stumbling over the Messiah, and then he will return to the
Living Torah, to YAHUSHUA. Ephraim will also grieve, and, he will repent
for stumbling over and not walking in obedience to YAHUVEHs
So, let both the houses of Israel begin their repentance