What God has made clean, do not call common.
It seems that in the days of the Master Israel had taken the considerations of Leviticus 11 to such an extreme that it rendered fellowship with common folks and non-Jews impossible. In a way, it may have been the actual idea behind the commandment.
There is nothing wrong with giving due diligence to the Commandments; Yeshua himself taught extreme measures in order to avoid breaking them (Matthew 5:27—30). In all ussues though, Yeshua was helping the leaders of Israel to apply these commandments in balance with other ones, especially concerning their universal mission to the world, which required fellowship and contact. What he was teaching was the idea of, “These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others" (Matthew 23:23). Yeshua personally spoke to Peter about it in a vision telling him, “What God has tahor-ed, (consider ceremonially fit) do not tamei (consider ceremonially contaminated) (Acts 10:15). This allowed Peter to go to the house of the Roman centurion Cornelius. By obeying the Master's vision, Peter initiated a revolutionary theological break with the Judaism of his day. He was throwing the newly-born Nazarene movement into its universal mission of teaching Torah to the gentile world, move that Paul followed in Syrian Antioch, later in Turkey, Greece, and finally, Rome.
Peter was the one chosen to challenge the stiff religious status quo of his day. As great as a disciple as he was, his weakness often surfaced. We saw him denying the Master the night of his arrest, and again in Antioch, to Paul’s horror, withdrawing himself from fellowship with Gentiles (Matthew 26:75; Galatians 2:11—14). In both cases Peter yielded to peer-pressure and fear. He was afraid to stand up because he valued the opinions of men.
It is easy to blame Peter, but what the Master was teaching here was of utmost importance. Whereas Yeshua retained the Torah ideas of holiness, of being kadosh דושק, set-apart for Hashem, he was teaching it in an application that did not hamper the mission of being a light to our brothers, and to the world. The Master in effect was saying, "Do my will and trust me for your ceremonial sanctity; you can never attain it anyways!”; “These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others" (Matthew 23:23).
Sad to say, I meet many today who in an undue attention t these things separate themselves from even their relatives. I have seen people even divorce on the same sort of imbalanced religious grounds. If he were there, the Master would be rolling in his grave, but we know that he is not there, praise be Hashem. He actually sadly watches us wondering how come he, he who is the holiest one of Israel, he who was set-apart for Hashem from creation, Hw come he was not afraid to put on the tamei (ceremonial contamination) of the world in order to reach us but we, we are too holy do it in order to reach out to our peers?
Even though Peter denied the Master in front of men (Matthew 10:33), the Master forgave Peter and reinstated him (John 21:15—18). Later Peter also repented from his self-righteous separatism in Antioch and died as a martyr while ministering to the believers in Rome, Jews and Gentiles. May we also like Peter and Paul learn from Yeshua's teachings and properly balance the commandments. A wise man may learn by his experiences, but a wiser man learns by the experiences of others!
P. Gabriel Lumbroso
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