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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

Nitsavim 51-6

You are standing

Deuteronomy 30:11-14

For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

Deut. 30:11-14 ESV

Is there an excuse for not obeying?

With these words, HaShem wants to teach us several things. One of them is that there is no excuse for not obeying. There is always an argument from the evil inclination in us that says that it's too complicated to do what the Eternal commands. These words say it's not. It is true that many of the commandments require physical effort from us, others immovable faith, but the person who surrenders to the Eternal with a heart willing to serve Him whatever the cost has the possibility to fulfill what the Eternal commands (c.f. Luke 1:6). When one makes a mistake and fails he has the resource of forgiveness that the Eternal has provided, so that he can get up and keep walking in the path of obedience. Nobody is perfect to not fail, but that doesn't mean that one should stop trying. Even though a child falls many times when he learns to walk, he doesn't lie down on the floor feeling discouraged, but he gets up and tries again until he learns to walk well. One that has already learned how to walk will not normally fall. And if he falls, he gets up again receiving the forgiveness that the Eternal provides for all those who trust Him.

This text also gives us a key to be able to keep the commandment – first talk and then put the words in the heart. Pronouncing the Scriptures with our mouths helps us to put them in our hearts. This teaches us that the words of the Torah have the potential in themselves to get into our hearts when we pronounce them with our mouths. And when they reach our hearts, they become part of us and become one with our conduct.

Another thing that we learn is that the Torah is not in heaven. The rabbis find a solid base here to avoid using prophecy when dictating the practical laws (halachah) but human logic using the established interpretation rules. Jewish legislation is based on the Torah that was given to men and is not in heaven anymore. In the Torah, with the support of the rest of the Scriptures and the oral tradition, we can find all the necessary tools to establish the correct legislation in a systematic and logical way, not by whim or prophecy. Prophecy has its place, but it is neither for dictating laws nor for judging in courts. The Torah is not in heaven – it was given to the judges of Israel.

This text also speaks prophetically of the Son of Man, the living Torah. Paul cites this text in Romans 10:6-10 applying it to the Messiah in a personal manner. Unfortunately, most of the translations have put the word "but" at the beginning of verse 6 creating a contradiction between what verse 5 and verse 6 say as if the Torah's righteousness, of which Moshe writes, was contrary to righteousness by faith. However, the citation that Paul takes from Deuteronomy shows that he considered Moshe was talking about righteousness of faith in these verses. How could Paul be able to base his teaching on the words of the Torah to prove that righteousness comes by faith if he didnīt believe that Moshe taught that righteousness comes by faith? What Paul is teaching in Romans 10 is that the Torah is the way to get to the Messiah and that the one who obeys the Torah in the right way will find the Messiah. He is not only in the Torah, he is the Torah.

The Torah, therefore, teaches that righteousness is achievable for men, through faith, through accepting the commandment sent from heaven first in a written way, and later in human form.

Accept the commandments of the Torah with your mouth and your heart; accept Yeshua as the living Torah and confess him as your Lord, knowing that he was raised from the dead. In that way you'll be saved and will have your part in the world to come.



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