Why Teimani / Netzarim Halakhah?
To reconstruct the ancient Netzarim Halakhah, modern Netzarim were faced with the challenge of restoring the lacuna left by nearly 2,000 years of dormancy. To fill this lacuna, based on the state of the first-century Jewish community described in Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT, the Netzarim adopted as the base set the Halakhah, tradition, and culture that scholars consistently regard as most authentic and uninfluenced by external forces: the Teimanim (Yemenite Jews).
Instead of “assuming” 4th-century C.E. Hellenist Roman-pagan doctrines unless Ribi Eesho (Jesus) and the “saints” specifically declared otherwise, like the Christians do, the Netzarim restored the most pristine set of Halakhah on the planet — the same Halakhah that Ribi Yәhoshua knew, practiced and taught! Oriented exactly opposite to Christians, the Netzarim assert Teimanim Halakhah unless Ribi Yәhoshua specifically declared otherwise — and he didn’t.
The Teimanim best reflect the 1st-century Jews and the 1st-century observant (i.e., non-secular / non-Hellenist) Jewish community, who — undiluted by European caucasian or 4th-century pagan and anti-Torah Roman Christianity defined the parameters (for which cf. Qimron on Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT) within which Rabi Eesho lived, taught Torah, and defined his original followers — the Netzarim.
It is the Teimanim who have most pristinely preserved the Judaism and liturgy not only of the 1st-century which Rabi Eesho and his original Netzarim followers practiced and taught, but which dates back to Har Sinai — the Judaism which Ribi Yәhoshua taught and championed.
The most respected scholars in the world are virtually unanimous that the Teimani liturgy and siddur is the most pristine written record on the planet of how Ribi Eesho and his original Netzarim followers — as well as all other 1st century religious Jews — prayed. The Teimani liturgy and siddur differs significantly from the Sepharadi liturgy and siddur and even more so from the Ashkenazi liturgy and siddur.
Recognized by historians as the most ancient, undiluted and pristine Halakhah and liturgy from Har Sinai, Teimani tradition is, therefore, the most authentic example of Judaism on the planet.
Therefore, because Teimani liturgy best reflects 1st-century Judaism as corroborated by Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT — which describes the 1st-century Judaism endorsed by Ribi Yәhoshua — Teimani liturgy is embraced as Netzarim liturgy, and all Netzarim are expected to make it their life study to learn and adopt Teimani — Hebrew — liturgy as their own liturgy.
Epistle to Yemen
From Wikisource by Moses Maimonides, translated by Boaz Cohen
Iggeret Teiman תימן אגרת
The Epistle to Yemen (Iggeret Teiman), probably a compilation of several shorter responsa, was written by Maimonides about 1172 in reply to an inquiry (or inquiries) by Jacob ben Netan’el al-Fayyūmi, the then head of the Jewish community in Yemen. The exchange of letters was occasioned by a crisis through which the Jews of that country were passing. A forced conversion to Islam, inaugurated about 1165 by ‘Abd-al-Nabī ibn Mahdi, who had gained control over most of Yemen, threw the Jews into a panic. The campaign conducted by a recent convert to win them to his new faith, coupled with a Messianic movement started by a native of the country who claimed he was the Messiah, increased the confusion within the Jewish community. Rabbi Jacob evidently sought guidance and encouragement, and Maimonides attempted to supply both. Originally written in Arabic, this edition is that of the 1952 English translation by Boaz Cohen, published in New York by American Academy for Jewish Research, edited from manuscripts with introduction and notes by Abraham S. Halkin.
A Sectarian Manifesto:
“The MMT” or “Some of the Works of the Torah (Law)”4QMMT: 4Q394-399, Miqsat Ma’ase Ha-TorahFrom Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation: Wise, Abegg, Cook
Part of the MMT translator’s notes:
In all of antiquity, only the Manifesto and Paul’s Letters to the Galatians and Romans discuss the connection between works and righteousness. For that reason alone this writing is of immense interest and importance. But the Manifesto has additional significance. While the sectarian documents found in the caves at Qumran fairly bristle with legal discussions on a variety of issues, only this work, commonly known as 4QMMT (an acronym from the Hebrew words meaning some of the works of the Torah), directly challenges the position of another religious group. Because of the potentially defining character of such a response, scholars have hoped to find in the Manifesto a basis for a definitive identification of the group behind the sectarian scrolls.
Of course, when one expects to find something, one usually does, and so it is here. Seen as pregnant with significance, the Manifesto has given birth to a new theory. Based on legal arguments in the first section of the Manifesto, this theory suggests that the Yahad were Sadducees—not, however, the Sadducees as we know them from Josephus or the New Testament. Rather, the theory holds, these are Sadducees with Essene theological tendencies. Thus, those who have embraced this new theory have as yet seen little reason to jettison the Standard Model.
Jack’s note: Rather than Sadducees, we would be better to see them as Zadokites, the word from which Sadducee is a poor transliteration. Zadok is as in Zedek or Zadik – the Just Ones or Righteous Ones, followers in the spirit of the priest Zadok or even Melchizedek.
Update 2011: Might we understand this letter to have been received by the Sect rather than sent?
This final exhortation is of great importance for a fuller understanding of statements the apostle Paul makes about works and righteousness in his Letter to the Galatians. The author of the Manifesto, probably thinking of Psalm 106:30—31 (where the works of Phinehas were reckoned to him as righteousness), is engaged, as it were, in a rhetorical duel with the ideas of the apostle. Paul appeals to Genesis 15:6 to show that it was the faith of Abraham that was reckoned to him as righteousness (Gal. 3:6) and goes on to state categorically that by the works of the Torah shall no flesh be justified (Gal. 2:16). Probably the false brethren (Gal. 2:4) that Paul opposed held a doctrine on justification much like that of the present writing.
Here are some New Testament references, perhaps to the MMT:
Romans 3:20. For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the Torah, since through the Torah comes knowledge of sin.
Galatians 2:15. We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, 6. yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the Torah but through faith in Ribi Eesho (Jesus) Mashiach, even we have believed in Mashiach Ribi Eesho (Jesus), in order to be justified by faith in Mashiach, and not by works of the Torah, because by works of the Torah shall no one be justified.
Galatians 3:1. O FOOLISH Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Ribi Eesho (Jesus) Mashiach was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the Torah, or by hearing with faith? 3. Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? 4. Did you experience so many things in vain?–if it really is in vain. 5. Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the Torah, or by hearing with faith? 6. Thus Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 7. So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8. And the scripture, for seeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9. So then, those who are men of faith are blessed with Abraham who had faith. 10. For all who rely on works of the Torah are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Torah, and do them.”
Here is the reference to some (people) “going out from among us”:
1 John 2:18. Children, this is the final hour; you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and now many Antichrists have already come; from this, we know that it is the final hour. 19. They have gone from among us, but they never really belonged to us; if they had belonged to us, they would have stayed with us. But this was to prove that not one of them belonged to us. 20. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and have all received knowledge. 21. I have written to you not because you are ignorant of the truth, but because you are well aware of it, and because no lie can come from the truth. 22. Who is the liar, if not one who claims that Ribi Eesho (Jesus) is not the Mashiach? This is the Antichrist, who denies both the Father and the Son. (NJB)
Revelation 2: 8. Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna and say, ‘Here is the message of the First and the Last, who was dead and has come to life again: 9. I know your hardships and your poverty, and, though you are rich, the slander of the people who falsely claim to be Jews but are really members of the synagogue of Satan.
Here is the preamble to the MMT:
These are some of our pronouncements concerning the Torah of Elohim. Specifically, some of the pronouncements concerning works of the Torah that we have determined . . . and all of them concern defiling mixtures and the purity of the sanctuary . . .
And here is the postscript:
Now, we have written to you some of the works of the Torah, those which we determined would be beneficial for you and your people because we have seen that you possess insight and knowledge of the Torah. Understand all these things and beseech Him to set your counsel straight and so keep you away from evil thoughts and the counsel of Belial. Then you shall rejoice at the end time when you find the essence of our words to be true. And it will be reckoned to you as righteousness, in that you have done what is right and good before Him, to your own benefit and to that of Israel.
Here’s the rest of it – some of the works of the Torah:
Concerning the offering of Gentile grain which they are . . . and allowing their . . . to touch it and defile it. No one should eat from Gentile grain nor bring it into the sanctuary . . .
Concerning the sacrifice of the sin offering ‘which they are boiling in vessels of bronze and thus defiling the flesh of their sacrifices as well as boiling them in the Temple court and defiling it with the broth of their sacrifice.
Concerning the Gentile sacrifice, we have determined that they are sacrificing to the . . . which . . . to him.
Concerning the cereal offering of the sacrifice of well being, they are being put aside from one day to the next. Indeed it is written . . . that the cereal offering is to be eaten with the fat and the flesh on the day that they are sacrificed. For the priests are responsible to take care of this matter so as not to bring guilt upon the people. Concerning the purity of the heifer of the sin offering, the one who slaughters it, the one who burns it, the one who gathers its ashes, and the one who sprinkles the water of purification—for all of these, the sun must set for them to be pure—so that the pure might sprinkle the water of purification on the unclean. For the sons of Aaron are responsible to care for this matter . . .
Concerning the hides of cattle and sheep which they are … and fashioning from their hides vessels … no one is allowed to bring them into the sanctuary . . .
Concerning the hides and bones of unclean animals, no one is allowed to make handles for vessels from the bones or hide . . .
Concerning the hide from the carcass of a clean animal, the one who carries this carcass must not touch the holy food . . .
Concerning the . . . which are . . . For it is the responsibility of the priests to care for all these matters so as not to bring guilt upon the people. (Lev. 22:10-16)
Concerning that which it is written: anyone who slaughters in the camp or outside the camp an ox, a lamb, or a goat, that … to the north of the camp. We have determined that the sanctuary is the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, that Jerusalem is the camp, and that outside the camp is outside of Jerusalem, in other words, the camp of their cities. Outside the camp … the sin offering, and they take out the ashes of the altar and burn the sin offering there. For Jerusalem is the place which He chose from all the tribes of Israel to make His name to dwell. . . which they are not sacrificing in the sanctuary.
Concerning pregnant animals, we have determined that one must not sacrifice the mother and the fetus on the same day . . . (Lev. 22:27-28)
Concerning one who eats the fetus, we have determined that a person might eat the fetus which is found in the womb of its mother after it has been sacrificed as well. You know that this is correct, for the matter is written concerning the pregnant animal. (Lev. 22:7-2)
Concerning the Ammonite, the Moabite, the bastard, the one whose testicles are crushed, or whose penis is cut off who enter the congregation . . . and take wives, that they might become one flesh and be entering the sanctuary . . . unclean. We have also determined that there is not… one must not have intercourse with them . . . one must not unite with them so as to make them one bone . . . one must not bring them into the sanctuary. And you know that some of the people and … are uniting. For all the sons of Israel are responsible to guard themselves against any defiling union and to show reverence for the sanctuary. (Deut. 23:1-4)
Concerning the blind, who since they cannot see, are not able to guard themselves against any defiling mixture. They cannot see the defilement of the guilt offering. (Lev. 21:17-23)
Concerning the deaf, who have not heard the statute, the judgment, and the purity ruling, who have not heard the commandments belonging to Israel. For the one who has not seen or has not heard does not know how to perform according to the Torah. They may, however, participate in the pure
food of the sanctuary. (Lev. 21:17-23)
Concerning streams of liquid, we have determined that they are not intrinsically pure. Indeed, streams of liquid do not form a barrier between the impure and the pure. For the liquid of the stream and that in its receptacle become as one liquid.
Concerning dogs, one may not bring dogs into the holy camp because they may eat some of the bones from the sanctuary and the meat which is still on them. For Jerusalem is the holy camp. It is the place which He chose from all the tribes of Israel, for Jerusalem is the foremost of the camps of Israel.
Concerning the planting of fruit trees which are planted in the land of Israel, their produce is to be considered as first fruits belonging to the priests. Also, the tithe of the cattle and sheep belong to the priest.
Concerning lepers, we have determined that they may not enter any place containing the sacred pure food, for they shall be kept apart, outside the camp (?). Indeed it is written that from the time that he shaves and washes he must dwell outside the camp for seven days. But now, while they are still unclean, lepers must not enter into any place with sacred pure food. And you know that the one who unknowingly breaks a command because the matter escaped his notice, he must bring a sin offering. But as for the one who intentionally sins, it is written that he is a despiser and a blasphemer. Indeed, while they are yet leprous, they may not eat from the holy food until sunset on the eighth day. (Lev. 14:2-9; Num. 15:30)
Concerning the uncleanness of the dead, we have determined that every bone, whether a piece or whole, is considered according to the commandment of the dead or the slain. (Num. 19:16-19)
Concerning the fornication which has been done in the midst of the people, their children are holy. As it is written, Israel is holy. (Num. 36:6)
Concerning a clean animal of an Israelite, it is written that it is not Torah to breed it with another species. (Lev. 19:19)
Concerning the clothes of an Israelite, it is written that they must not be of mixed substances. Nor is it Torah for him to sow his field or his orchard with two species of plants. Because they are holy and the sons of Aaron are most holy. But you know that some of the priests and the people are intermarrying. They are uniting and defiling the holy seed as well as their own with forbidden marriage partners. For the sons of Aaron must . . . (Lev. 19:19; 21:7; Num. 36:6).
Concerning the women … the violence and the unfaithfulness . . . (Deut. 17:17; 21:15-16)
For in these matters (?)… because of the violence and the fornication, some places have been destroyed. Indeed, it is written in the book of Moses that you shall not bring an abomination into your house. For an abomination is hated by Elohim. (Deut. 7:26)
Thus we have separated ourselves from the violators. But you know that we have separated from the majority of the people (or council of the congregation) and from all their uncleanness and from being party to or going along with them in these matters. And you know that no unfaithfulness, deception, or evil is found in our hands, for we have given some thought (?) to these issues.
Indeed, we have written to you so that you might understand the book of Moses, the books of the Prophets, and David …… all the generations. In the book of Moses, it is written . . . not to you and days of old… It is also written that you will turn from the path and evil will befall you (Deut. 31:29). And it is written that when all these things happen to you in the Last Days, the blessing and the curse, that you call them to mind and return to Him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deut. 30:1-2) . . . at the end of the age, then you shall live . . . etc.
It is also written in the book of Moses and in the books of the prophets that the blessings and curses shall come upon you . . . some of the blessings came on … and in the days of Solomon the son of David.
Indeed the curses which came in the days of Jeroboam the son of Nebat until the exile of Jerusalem and Zedekiah the king of Judah when He sent them to Babylon . . . And so we see that some of the blessings and curses have already come that are written in the book of Moses.
Now, this is the Last Days: when those of Israel shall return to the Torah of Moses with all their heart and will never turn away again. But the wicked will increase in wickedness and . . . And the . . .
Now remember the kings of Israel and consider their words carefully. For he who feared the Torah was delivered from his troubles. These were the seekers of the Torah, those whose sins were forgiven. Remember David, he was a pious man, and indeed he was delivered from many troubles and forgiven.