The Eighteen Measures, Part 6: A New Golden Calf

As we noted in our response to Rabbi Singer on the interpretation of Yoma 39b, the Talmud wrestles with the question of why the Second Temple was destroyed even though there was no idolatry in the Land.  Yoma 9b seeks to explain this judgment of the Holy One: But as to the second sanctuary, in …

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The Eighteen Measures, Part 5: “Woe to You, Pharisees!”

Many of Yeshua’s attacks on the Pharisees who had fallen into hypocrisy seem to have been focused on the provisions in the Eighteen Measures and the environment of violence that their institution fomented: The murder of the disciples of Hillel – “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of …

The Eighteen Measures, Part 4: The Gentile Factor

In the previous post in this series, I noted that the Eighteen Measures compromised Israel's task to be a light to the Gentiles.   Indeed, as we will see, it was precisely because of the Measures that Peter required a vision direct from Heaven to prompt him to enter the house of Cornelius. We will begin …

The Eighteen Measures, Part 3: The Measures and Ritual Purity

The discussion in the Gemara is, as always, challenging, and does not seem to provide a complete list of enactments.  Nevertheless, it presents the following as representative of the whole, citing m.Zavim 5:12: These render terumah (wave offering) unfit: He who eats food unclean in the first remove; and he who eats food unclean in …

The Eighteen Measures, Part 2: Another Upper Room

The Mishnah, tractate Shabbat 1:4, and its corresponding passage in the Babylonian Talmud (folios 13b-17b), present a strange puzzle to those who study it deeply.  Let us begin with the Mishnah passage that is discussed in the Gemara: These are some of the laws which they stated in the upper room of Hananiah b. Hezekiah …

The Eighteen Measures, Part 1: Introduction

Yeshua’s relationship to the Pharisees has been routinely characterized among Christian authors as universally hostile.  Indeed, “Pharisee” is actually defined in modern dictionaries as, “a sanctimonious, self-righteous, or hypocritical person” (Dictionary.com).  This low view of the Pharisees has long been promulgated by most of the most respected Christian commentators: But it deserves inquiry, whether he …