As most of us come to the understanding of Torah and who Yahshua really is and what He expects from us, our "new" knowledge and understanding makes us go through our personal spiritual inventory and discard anything that is not found in the Bible. Great! Good move! I find this act the equivalent of getting rid of your personal idols and your own understanding of who YHVH is rather than who He tells us He is.
Probably the most incendiary topic of those who come out of Christianity is holidays. Christmas, Easter, and, yes, even to some Halloween are incredibly pagan in their traditions. With the exception of Halloween (which has not a shred of Biblical background in it) Christmas and Easter are based on biblical events and wrapped in pagan traditions. The account of the birth of our Meshiach is found in the Gospels and now, due to the influence of the Church, utilizes evergreen trees, a winter solstice date, and Wiccan traditions like Yule logs and stags within its parameters. Easter, named after a pagan fertility goddess, takes the account of the death of Yahshua HaMashiach and adds chocolate bunnies and colored eggs. (You can go to any Hebrew Roots site for the background of these traditions if you would like.)
So as we adopt Torah into our thinking and begin adopting a Hebrew mindset, we realize that Judaism has not been spared the rigors of human influence either. The Talmud, with its countless volumes of rabbinical commentary offers explanations and oral traditions that attempt to explain what the Torah says. Some of us do the yearly Torah cycle in which we take Parashot or portions and read them weekly and at the end of the year, begin again. The Talmud, if we used the same amount of weekly reading, would take someone seven and a half years to finish its cycle. That is a lot of commentary. If one was to take every word in the Talmud as instruction, he would not be able to move or operate in his day-to-day life. Commentaries are simply the individual opinions of various rabbis (who rarely agree on anything) on how the commandments should be kept.
So what's the difference between these two paradigms? Well, the Christian traditions have paganism attached and so must be scrubbed of their uncleanness. The Talmud, while based on the Torah, must be put in its proper perspective. It is interpretation, not Torah. Only one Torah exists and it has 613 commandments within it.
Traditions must be kept in their proper perspectives. It is wise to analyze where traditions come from. Each act of attempted obedience must be analyzed against the authority of Scripture. But what if a tradition when place alongside the Torah and the whole of the Bible has no offensiveness to it? What then? Can I adopt or continue to perform this tradition? I would think so. To take this to an extreme, can I keep Shabbat by offering a sacrifice in my backyard? Of course, not. But can I light candle and have bread and wine in the manner my Jewish brethren keep this weekly Chag (festival)?
Tradition in and of itself is not wrong. How we choose to carry out this tradition can be or might not be the issue. Candle-lighting, blowing the shofar, Davidic dancing, singing your favorite praise songs, or baking Challah are traditions and that are all innocent. We are instructed in the Torah to "Remember the Shabbat and keep it Holy." (Exodus 20: 8-10)We are given the commandment do no labor of any kind. In the manner of keeping something holy, however, we remember that something that is holy is "set apart." How do you make the Shabbat different? Granted you do no work, but can I celebrate the beginning of it with prayer, thanksgiving and praise? Would any of us argue that point? I would hope not.
Why am I bringing this up? Because we need to realize that traditions treated as commandments become religion. Adopting another's interpretation of the Bible as fact and then making liturgy out of it dehumanizes the human element of faith and funnels it through a set standard of human morals and practices is what makes faith return void. By forming my own family traditions or adopting Torah-based traditions as my own is perfectly acceptable. If one chooses to adopt the Passover Seder as a way to formalize their observing of this Feast of YHVH, how does another come and tell them that this is incorrect? If I choose to adopt the manner in which my Jewish brethren build their tabernacles, is this incorrect, or am I simply using it as an example and taking part in a tradition that extends back to the days of Nehemiah and Ezra? Be cautious that in your search for truth, you are THINKING and not being told WHAT to think.
When anyone comes to you and tells you that you are keeping the commandments incorrectly, stop and think about what they just told you. You are keeping a commandment incorrectly. Commandments are black and white. You are keeping them, or you aren't. The rest is how we keep them and that is where the Enemy and his wolves dwell. Submission to that influence is the first step to being lost to religion.
Remember, those who seek to make you their servants and disciples must first take away your free thought. Keep the commandments in holiness in freedom, Brothers and Sisters. You are given freedom only by your Father in Heaven. We are HIS servants and HIS servants alone.
Cole Davis and Other Contributors