Proof of our Oral Torah!


#1

Imagine what it would mean if we Orthodox Jews could actually prove our Oral Torah from Sinai? Wouldn’t it be amazing! Well, as it turns out, we can. The following is just a little piece I wrote about a while back concerning the Ethiopian Jews. Enjoy.

. . .Imagine, for a moment, what it would mean to the veracity of the Oral Torah, if we found a ritual from its earliest records (the Mishnah) preserved by an isolated community of Jews who left Yisrael over 2,000 some years ago? Could such a thing exist? As it turns out, the answer is yes!

The people are ancient, they left Yisrael centuries before the birth of any famous Chazal (sages), the laws they have preserved cannot be derived from the Written Torah with pure logic alone, and, most importantly, the oral traditions of which they follow, were recorded by their own memory way before any rabbinic writing had taken shape.

Who are these people? The Abyssinian Christians. Keep in mind, however, that I do NOT approve their stance as Christians. Remember that these people were once fellow Jews who worshipped HaShem (G-d), in which they have passed down the oral traditions in spite of that. Therefore, I won’t touch on their current beliefs as Christians, just their ancient past.

So these people have in them a built-in safe of Oral Law. And the code is in the Mishnah. The numbers to unlocking the safe are the unique altar practices which exist nowhere else outside of Pharisaic Judaism.

It would be wise, however, to note that these people must have left prior to the destruction of the First Beit HaMildash (First Temple), as they have no tradition regarding any of the publicly ordained fasts - they specifically only follow the “Sigd,” a day to express their longing to return to Eretz Yisrael. According to Yemenite Jewish tradition, the community is a direct result of our bondage in Egypt, as Ethiopia was a safe haven for slaves. [1] When they learned of the Brit of Sinai, they immediately accepted it upon themselves.

Christianity was introduced to the people in 331 CE, by a Syrian monk. According to a very rare Ethiopian manuscript, the Tigrayan fortress of Magdala, we’re told that: ‘Christianity was introduced into Abyssinia 331 years after the birth of [Jesus] by Abuna Salam, whose former name was Frumemtos or Frumemtius. At that time the Ethiopian kings reigned over Axum. Before the Christian religion was known in Ethiopia, half the inhabitants were Jews who observed the Law; the other half were worshipers of Sando, the dragon.’ [2]


The Door to Real Jewish Life
#2

If you ask a Abyssinian priest what’s so special about Tana Qiros - a remote island in Lake Tana, Ethiopia, he’ll tell you that it had to do with the ceremonial way of collecting and sprinkling the blood of kosher animals before they’re sacrificed, as it is written in the book they never possessed: the Mishnah.

British researcher, Graham Hancock, stumbled upon this amazing find in pursuit of the Ark of the Covenant. What he discovered there is now written in his work, The Sign and the Seal, [3] despite his anti-Orthodox bias and criticism of jealous modern academia, the truth holds up, as can be attested by Ethiopian Jews in Beit Shemesh, Yisrael, today.

Here’s his story. Hancock, accompanied by a local translator, traveled to Tana Qiros in search of the senior priest, Memhir Fisseha. When he found him, Hancock asked the man about the details concerning the offering of burnt offerings. The monk went on to describe it, and the details are shocking, exactly as one would expect to find only in the Mishnah tractate, Yoma. The following is from Hancock’s book:

‘We we’re Jews. We preformed sacrifice. The blood from the lamb was collected in a bowl. . . a gomer [a Hebrew word which has no connection to the Ethiopian language, Ge’ez, whatsoever, meaning ‘finish, complete’ - i.e., the vessel which ‘completes’ the sacrifice after the animal’s life is ‘finished’]. Then it was scattered over some stones, some small stones. They are still here. . . . After the sacrifice, some was scattered over the stones and some on the tent that contained the ark. [4] The remainder was poured into these hollows.’ [5]


#3

It wasn’t long before Hancock asked how this could be done, so the priest rehearsed the action:

‘He then positioned himself next to the stones with the bowl in his left hand, dipped into it with his right forefinger, swept his right hand above the level of his head and commenced an up-and-down motion. ‘The blood was scattered in this way,’ he said, ‘over the stones and over the tent of the Ark. Afterwords, as I told you, what was left was poured thus.’ He then tipped the bowl sideways above the cup-shaped hollows in the tops of the pillars.’ [6]

Hancock later made the following observance:

“It was not until I turned to the Mishnah, however, the compilation in written and oral form of the early oral Jewish law, that I realized just how authentic Memhir Fisseha’s account in fact had been. In the tractate known as Yoma, in the second division of the Mishnah, I found detailed descriptions of the sacrificial rituals carried out by the High Priest within Solomon’s Temple in front of the Ark of the Covenant from the gaze of the laity. . . . I read that the blood of the victim - whether lamb, goat, or bullock - was collected and given ‘to one that should stir it up. . . so that it should not congeal.’ Then the priest, having emerged from the sanctuary, ‘took the blood from him that was stirring it and entered and stood again on the place whereon he had stood, and sprinkled the blood once upwards and seven times downwards. Where, exactly, did the priest sprinkle this blood? According to the Mishnah he sprinkled it ‘on the curtain outside, opposite the Ark, once upwards and seven times downward, not as though he intended to sprinkle upwards or downwards, but as though he were wielding a whip. . . . He then sprinkled the cleansed surface of the altar seven times and poured out the residue of the blood. It seemed highly improbable that Memhir Fisseha had ever read the Mishnah. As a Christian he would have no reason to do so; nor would he have had access to such a book on his remote island; nor could he have understood any of the languages into which it had been translated. Yet his hand movements, when he had shown how the scattering of the blood was done, had been precisely those of a man wielding a whip. And he had spoken confidently of the blood being poured not only upon the altar of stones, but on the ‘tent of the Ark.’’ [7]


#4

Now, again recall that these people, before becoming complete Christians, left Eretz Yisrael well before the events of Purim and the redidcation of the Second HaMikdash (Channukah). They also had no access to the Mishnah, as it wasn’t penned for some four centuries later, yet. . . they clearly knew of the oral teachings not found in the Written Torah, one which could have only been preserved by oral decree. It is now possible for one to appreciate the great antiquity of our oral teachings from Sinai, which has been preserved in the memory of both Jew and non-Jew alike. And with a stroke of irony, you wouldn’t have first thought that the Abyssinian Christians, enemies to true Torah Judaism, would be the last people on earth to lend credibility to our heritage, right? But here it is! HaShem did not fail to make sure that these people would testify with their mouths, the exact oral tradition they tried to destroy so long ago when they entered the land to convert the people. Therefore, the authenticity of the Oral Law just cannot be rejected.

Footnotes:

  1. Sefer HaYashar says the Moshe Rabbeinu joined the army of King Nikanos of Ethiopia, who was besieged in his own capital by the wicked prophet, Bil’am. Nine years later, General Moshe took the city and was proclaimed ‘king’ by the people. As he entered the city, the former king’s widow, Adoniya, watched from a tower and took an intimidate liking to Moshe, whom she soon married. Accordingly, she was the Cushite woman his sister resented. Queen Aoniya got upset when Moshe never cohabited with her during their marriage, and had him driven out peacefully. Josephus tells us that he then went back to Egypt, but Pharoah got wind of his successes, as well as fearing that Moshe would invade Egypt with his army, and plotted an assassination. Thankfully, Moshe also caught wind of it and fled to Midian. All of this prove that the Yisraelite slaves, some of them likely traveling with the army, were aware of the existence of Ethiopia.

  2. Hancock, Graham, The Sigh and the Seal: the Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. A Touchstone Book published by Simon & Schuster, Inc. New York, NY (1992). 600 pp. p. 141

  3. Ibid.

  4. Ibid.


#5
  1. This is, halachically (practical Jewish law) speaking, allowed as long as the ark’s body is changed, see Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Laws of the Chosen House, 7:9 [10]. The real Ark of the Covenant was placed in a secret vault underneath the foundations of the Beit Mikdash, then under the direction of Yoshiyahu HaMelech (see Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Laws of the Chosen House, 4:1 cf., Yoma 52b, B.T., Mishnah, Sanhedrin 6:1-2, and Yerusalem Talmud, Sheqalim 6:1).

  2. Hancock, Graham, The Sigh and the Seal: the Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. A Touchstone Book published by Simon & Schuster, Inc. New York, NY (1992). pp. 214-215

  3. Ibid. pp. 216-218


#6

Hey rabbi. I know you mean well but I think most of us here don’t know what you’re talking about.

What do you think of Jesus?


#7

@FloridaCatholic, please tell me what you don’t understand and I’ll do my best to explain it.

To me, Jesus was just a good teacher, like Hare Krishna or Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, etc. Was he HaMashiach (the Messiah)? I’d think no. Why? Because there’s no sign of world peace. Just 72 years ago, the Shoah (Holocaust) finished. 6 million. . . dead. But G-d blessed us with Eretz Yisrael (the holy land), and preserved us as a people even though we were almost destroyed.

The point being this: if there was world peace, the Shoah would have never happened. G-d says in Yeshayahu (Isaiah) that we needed to be punished for our sins, but that the Nazis over did it, and so He is very angry at them. I’d also purpose that Jesus was a fellow Pharisee. There are many clues in the New Testament which point to the fact that these people followed our Oral Torah. You can type in “Mishnah” in the search bar, you should find my latest post proving it was none generations before Jesus to the Ethiopian Jews there. It’s a very interesting read. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Again, let me know if there’s anything you don’t understand and we’ll resolve it. Note that my mission isn’t to convert anyone, just to simply provide material for deep thought.

Shalom


The Door to Real Jewish Life
#8

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