By Jacob Neusner
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Extra resources for A Rabbi Talks with Jesus
And the circumlocution here proves disingenuous. For who does not know that "it was said to the men of old" refers to what God said to Moses at Sinai? Jesus knows that up there on the mountain, and I know it, and everyone around me knows it. For that thing I have heard in fact is what God says to Moses in the Torah: "You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain," and other of the Ten Commandments. So here again, the valid claim to interpret what the Torah says is joined with a puzzling formulation indeed.
For truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Torah until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. " Matthew 5:17-20 I t would not take a long journey to meet the master. He was everywhere. But to hear the message whole, I had to wait until the day he ascended a mountain and talked there to his disciples, in the hearing of outsiders as well.
Jesus on the mountain addresses not "all Israel," this one and that one, individuals and families. He speaks to our lives, but not to the whole of the world in which we make those lives. For we find ourselves hearing a message for home and hearth, for growing up and growing old - but not for community, state, an ongoing social order, such as eternal Israel comprises in this world. As we shall observe later on, so we notice right at the outset, Jesus sees the poor, the mourners, the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers.