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Yitro: The Torah of Messiah

Updated: Jul 1

“The Torah that a man learns in this world is vanity in comparison to the Torah of Messiah.” Kohelet Rabbah 11:7 Soncino Press Edition

In Parashat Yitro (Exodus 18:1–20:23), the Torah is revealed to Israel upon Mount Sinai. This singular event has completely reshaped human history. Rashi, R’ Shlomo Yitzhaki, comments on the atmosphere that was conducive to the reception of the Torah,

“Israel encamped there’ Heb. וַיִחַן, (the singular form) as one man with one heart, but all the other encampments were divided with complaints and with strife.” Rashi on Exodus 19:2, [1]

The people were unified, and this provided an environment in which the Revelation could take place. The book of Acts echoes Exodus,

בְיוֹם מְלאת שִׁבְעַת הַשָּׁבֻעוֹת נֶאֶסְפוּ כֻלָּם לֵב אֶחָד

“And on the day of the Shavuot being fulfilled, they all met with one heart.” Acts 2:1

In Jewish tradition, the Torah was revealed on Mount Sinai on the Festival of Shavuot, just as the Holy Spirit, the Torah written upon the heart, was given on Shavuot. Incredibly, Exodus describes the miracles associated with the Matan Torah, the Giving of the Torah,

“And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the shofar, and the mountain smoking. And when the people saw, they trembled, and stood afar off.” Exodus 20:18

The Hebrew word for “thunderings” is the word ‘qolot’, which can mean ‘sounds’ or ‘voices.’

וְכָל-הָעָם רֹאִים אֶת-הַקּוֹלֹת

“And all the people saw the voices.” Exodus 20:14

It may be asked, how is it possible to “see a sound”? The Midrash says,

“They saw what is ordinarily heard and they heard what is ordinarily seen.” Midrash Lekach Tov, Rashi cited at [2]

They saw the Voices. In the book of Acts, it says,

“And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” Acts 2:3, King James Version

In modern translations, the word for “cloven” is rendered ‘divided’, ‘separated,’or ‘distributed,’

“Tongues like fire appeared and were distributed to them, and one sat on each of them.” Acts 2:3

Jewish tradition confirms this idea. The Midrash Rabbah says,

“R. Johanan said that G-d’s voice, as it was uttered, split up into seventy voices, in seventy languages, so that all the nations should understand.” Exodus Rabbah 5:9

Acts continues,

“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak. . . When this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because everyone heard them speaking in his own language.” Acts 2:4-6

Notice the amazing parallels from Midrash Rabbah,

”When G-d gave the Torah on Sinai, He displayed untold marvels to Israel with His voice. What happened? G-d spoke and the Voice reverberated throughout the world. . . It says: And all the people perceived the thunderings (Ex. 20:15). Note that it does not say “the thunder” [qol], but “the thunderings.” [qolot]. Wherefore R. Johanan said that G-d’s voice, as it was uttered, split up into seventy voices, in seventy languages, so that all the nations should understand. When each nation heard the Voice in their own vernacular their souls departed, save Israel who heard but who were not hurt.” Exodus Rabbah 5:9, Soncino Press Edition

In Exodus it says,

“…there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” Exodus 32:28

It seems that a tikkun, a repair, was made for this in the book of Acts,

“Then those who gladly received his word were immersed. There were added that day about three thousand souls.” Acts 2:41

In addition to this, the restoration of a language that all can understand is a reversal of the curse of the Tower of Babel,

“The whole earth was of one language and of one speech…They said, “Come, lets build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top reaches to the sky, and lets make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered abroad on the surface of the whole earth.” The HaShem  came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built. HaShem said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is what they begin to do. Now nothing will be withheld from them, which they intend to do. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.’ So HaShem scattered them abroad from there on the surface of all the earth. They stopped building the city.” Genesis 11:1-8

The prophet Zephaniah says that this will characterize the Messianic Era,

“For then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that they may all call on the name of Hashem, to serve him shoulder to shoulder.” Zephaniah 3:9

Freedom Upon the Tablets

In Exodus it says,

“The tablets were the work of G-d, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved (charut, חָרוּת) on the tablets.” Exodus 32:16

The Hebrew word for “engraved” can also be read “freedom.” Pirkei Avot comments,

“Said Rabbi Joshua the son of Levi: … it says (Exodus 32:16): “And the tablets are the work of G-d, and the writing is G-d’s writing, engraved on the tablets,” read not “engraved” (charut) but “liberty” (chairut)—for there is no free individual, except for he who occupies himself with the study of Torah…” Pirkei Avot 6:2, cited at [3]

This tradition is apparently quoted by Yaakov, James, the brother of Yeshua,

“…he who looks into the perfect Torah of Freedom (תּוֹרַת הַחֵרוּת), and continues, not being a hearer who forgets, but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25

The Zohar comments on the deeper level meaning of this concept,

“Therefore the Scripture proclaims: ‘the tablets were the work of G-d’ (Elokim), from the time when the world was still under the aegis of the name Elokim, before the Sabbath had entered. The writing, too, was the ‘writing of God’, black fire on white fire, and it was haruth (engraved) because the Jubilee proclaims freedom (heruth) to all worlds.” Zohar, Shemot, Section 2, Page 114a, Soncino Press Edition

It is often taught that the Torah is “bondage.” This is only true if one misinterprets and misapplies the Torah. HaShem did not lead the children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt into spiritual bondage. Yet, the nation of Israel did not become free when they left Egypt. They become truly free when they accepted and applied the Torah. The Torah is freedom!

Black Fire Upon White Fire

A Torah scroll is written with black ink upon white parchment (usually made from the skin of a lamb), yet the Torah preceded the creation of the physical universe. The book of Deuteronomy says,

מִימִינֹו אֵשְׁדָּת אֵשׁ דָּת לָמֹו

“At his right hand was a fiery law for them.” Deuteronomy 33:2

The Zohar comments,

“…that the Torah was written with black fire on white fire.” Zohar, Bemidbar, Section 3, Page 154b, Soncino Press Edition

The Encyclopedia Judaica elucidates this idea,

“The most radical form that this view took was associated with the talmudic aggadah according to which prior to the creation of the world the whole of the Torah was written in black fire on white fire. As early as the beginning of the 13th century the daring notion was expressed that in reality the white fire comprised the true text of the Torah, whereas the text that appeared in black fire was merely the mystical Oral Law. Hence it follows that the true Written Law has become entirely invisible to human perception and is presently concealed in the white parchment of the Torah scroll, the black letters of which are nothing more than a commentary on this vanished text. In the time of the Messiah the letters of this “white Torah” will be revealed. This belief is referred to in a number of the classic texts of Hasidism as well.” Encyclopedia Judaica, Kabbalah continues,

“There are 304,805 plus letters in the Torah, but as you noted, we often hear of the 600,000 letters in the Torah…[One] view explains that the count of 304,805 letters includes only those that we see, black ink against white parchment. But there are also the letters in white against black. The heavenly, non-physical version of the Torah is described as black fire on white fire, and both the black and white are equally meaningful. The black are the letters we see, while the white, the inverse space between the black, are the letters we don’t see. The count of 600,000 includes both the black and the white letters.” Where Are There 600,000 Letters of the Torah?, Malkie Janowski, [4]

Michael L. Munk says,

“The sum total of human knowledge derives from the Torah because the universe is a product of Torah which is the blueprint of the world…When His Ineffable Word took physical form, heaven and earth became the clothing for the word of God which infuses Creation, and without which Creation would not continue to exist. The spiritual Torah which preceded the world became clothed in ink and parchment…the wisdom of God took the form of the 613 commandments. But the precepts are not isolated phenomena; they are all interrelated aspects of a single Torah, like the organs and vessels of a single human body to which the totality of the commandments are likened.” The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet, Artscroll, Michael L. Munk, pg. 47

John elucidates that as the Primordial Torah became clothed in ink and parchment, it also became clothed in flesh and blood,

“In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with G-d, and the Word was G-d…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” John 1:1,14

The Soul of The Torah

If the black letters refer to what is revealed, then the white space refers to that which is concealed. R’ Levi of Berditchev says,

“When our Righteous Messiah comes, we shall also understand the blank spaces in the Torah.” Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, Imre Tzaddikim, pg. 10, Cited in the Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai, pg. 257

Throughout Yeshua’s teachings, especially in Matthew chapters 5 through 7, Yeshua reveals the White Fire of the Torah. For example, he teaches that the root of murder is hatred,

“You have heard that it was said to the ancients, “You shall not murder“. . . But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be liable to the judgment. And whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be liable to the Sanhedrin, but whoever shall say, Fool! shall be liable to the fire of Gey-Hinnom.” Matthew 5:21-22

John expounds on this concept,

“Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. . . If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For if a person does not love his brother, whom he has seen, then he cannot love God, whom he has not seen. Yes, this is the command we have from him: whoever loves God must love his brother too.” 1 John 3:15, 4:20-21

The black letters of the Torah are our deeds, our actions, that are perceptible in the physical world. The white spaces in the Torah refer to the thoughts, motives and intentions of the heart, which are the invisible roots of our actions. Hebrews says,

“For the word of G-d is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

The Midrash Rabbah says,

"And the flaming sword…” (Genesis 3:24) "Rabbis said: ‘Sword’ refers to the Torah, as it is written, And a two-edged sword in their hand (Ps. 149:6)." Genesis Rabbah 21:9, Soncino Press Edition

Two double-edged sword of the Torah simply does not command us to ‘not murder’, but to eradicate the very source of murder. In the book Moshiach, Day by Day, there is a section called “Beyond the Letter of the Law,” that comments,

Beyond the Letter of the Law “Our Sages taught: The law of Chanukah requires that we light one candle each night, those who are zealous light one for each person, and the most beautiful way is to light one candle the first night and increase the lights every night.(Talmud, Shabbos 21b.) On Chanukah it has become accepted custom of all Jews to perform the mitzvah in the “most beautiful way,” far beyond the letter of the law. In Talmudic times, going beyond the minimum letter of the law was considered an act of extra piety. In our times, however, because of the increasing intensity of darkness in the world, more light was needed—and the concept of going beyond the minimum has now been incorporated as part of Jewish law. Achieving personal liberation demands that one go beyond the minimum law. This is an intrinsic aspect of celebrating the liberation of Chanukah, and achieving the complete liberation of Mashiach.(See Sichas 19 Kislev, 5744, sec. 4)” Moshiach, Day by Day, Elul

The New Torah, the Torah of the Messiah, is actually more “strict” than that of Moshe, because while it bids us to obey letter of the Torah, we must go beyond, higher and deeper, into the very root of our physical actions, into our thoughts, intentions and motives. The Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, inspires us to become more observant, not only outwardly but inwardly.

The New Torah

As noted above, the Torah preceded the creation of the world. R’ Aryeh Kaplan comments,

“The Torah is Wisdom, and is therefore the “head” of creation . . . It might be thought that the Torah was created only to rectify creation as it already exists. If this were so, the Torah would have been created after the earth. But actually, the Torah was the blueprint of creation, and therefore preceded it.” Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, The Bahir, pg. 96

When HaShem created the world through the Primordial Torah, it was absolutely perfect. There was no death, suffering, sadness or pain. However, when Adam sinned, the letters of the Primordial Torah re-arranged, to apply to a fallen world. The Torah remained perfect, but it now applied to a world that was no longer perfect, as Numbers 19 says,

זאת התוֹרה אדם כי יָמוּת באהל

“This is the Torah when a man dies in a tent…” Numbers 19:14

The Torah’s letters rearranged to apply to situations like death, sickness, divorce, sin, suffering and war. In the New Torah the word ‘death’ will never be mentioned. Even the Midrash on Psalms hints that the Torah of this world is not in its proper order,

“Man knows not the order thereof” (Job 28:13). R. Eleazar taught: The sections of Scripture are not arranged in their proper order, and any man so read them, he would be able to resurrect the dead and perform other miracles. For this reason the proper order of the sections of Scripture is hidden from mortals and is known only to the Holy One, blessed be He, who said: “Who, as I, can read and declare it, and set it in order.” (Isaiah 44:7) Midrash Tehillim, translated by William G. Braude, Yale University Press, pg. 48

Yet the Midrash Talpiyot comments that the letters of the Torah will reconfigure itself back to its primordial state,

“The Holy One, blessed is He, will sit and expound the New Torah which He will give through the Messiah. “New Torah” means the secrets and the mysteries of the Torah which have remained hidden until now. It does not refer to another Torah, heaven forbid, for surely the Torah which He gave us through Moshe rabbeinu, peace be upon him, is the eternal Torah, but the revelation of her hidden secrets is called the “New Torah”. . . when Adam the first man sinned, God arranged the letters into words, such as, When a man dies in his tent (Num 19:14). For had Adam not sinned, the letters would have arranged themselves into other words. Therefore, in the Olam Haba, the words will return to their primordial state.” Midrash Talpiyot 58a, cited in the Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai, pg. 256

It is important to note that the New Torah is the same Torah of Moshe, but with its hidden soul revealed. Yeshua teaches that ‘not one jot or tittle shall ever pass from the Torah,

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For most certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter[4] or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the Torah, until all things are accomplished.” Matthew 5:17-18

When ‘heaven and earth pass away’ is when the Olam Haba, the World to Come arrives. Then the New Torah will be revealed in its fullest measure. HaShem will use the New Torah in order to re-create the Heavens and the Earth.  In Mark 1, it tells us of a “New Torah,”

מַה־זֹּאת מַה־הִיא הַתּוֹרָה הַחֲדָשָׁה

“They were all amazed, so they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new Torah? For with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him!” Mark 1:27

The Yemenite Midrash says,

“In the future the Holy One, blessed is he, will seat the Messiah in the supernal Yeshiva, and they will call him,  “the Lord”  just as they call the Creator . . . and all those who walk on earth will come and sit before him to hear a New Torah and new commandments and the deep wisdom which he teaches Israel. . . and no person who hears a teaching from the mouth of the Messiah will ever forget it.” Yemenite Midrash, cited in the Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai, pg. 256

R’ Chaim Kramer comments on the teachings of Rebbe Nachman on the subject,

“…just as Mashiach’s level has yet to be revealed, so too the level of the hidden mysteries of the Torah has yet to be revealed. This awesome level of “hidden mysteries” is called the “Torah of Atika Stima’ah (“Torah of the Hidden Ancient One”) or simply, the “Torah of Atik” that will be revealed in the future. Throughout our history, the Torah of Atik has been concealed, with rare revelations made by our Prophets and Sages, as when they foretold the Days of Mashiach. They were given “a taste” of the Torah of Atik…They glimpsed the “New Torah” which will be revealed in the Future. It is the same Torah that we have today, but in its deepest form. The same laws will apply – not one iota will change! But its application to our daily lives will bring a much deeper understanding….it is possible to taste and experience this Torah of Atik even today…Praying with self-sacrifice, whereby the person negates himself totally before G-d, is known as hitpashut hagashmiyut (“the shedding of corporeality”)…” Mashiach, Who, What, Why, How, Where, When, R’ Chaim Kramer, Breslov Research Institute, pgs. 102-103

In the Gospels, Yeshua gives us a taste of the Olam Haba, the World to Come. He reveals a commandment from the White Fire,

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another.” John 13:34

It is not enough to merely “not murder.” It is not enough to simply “not hate.” One must love. Love is action. Love is obedience, as Yeshua says,

“If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

Yeshua reveals that all 600,000 letters of the Torah are contained in one word: אהבה, Ahavah, Love. This word has the gematria, the numerical value, of 13, linking to the 13 Attributes of HaShem (Exodus 34). The number 13 is also the gematria of the word אחד, echad, one. Unity. When the people were one, the Torah was revealed, and the Holy Spirit to be given. This is the prayer of Messiah, that all will be one in him, that the world may know that HaShem sent him. When this happens, HaShem will be one, and His Name one (Zechariah 14:6). The essence of loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, is to love each other as Messiah loved us. We are to love each other with every fiber of our being, al kiddush HaShem, even to the death, for Love conquers death. HaShem is love, and the Torah is love. HaShem and the Torah are one. When we love one another, we draw down the Spirit of HaShem into this world, and we are given a taste of the New Torah from the World to Come, as Paul says in Galatians,

שְׂאוּ אִישׁ אֶת־מַשָׂא רֵעֵהוּ כֵּן תְּקַיְּמוּ אֶת־תּוֹרַת הַמָּשִׁיחַ׃

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the Torah of Messiah.” Galatians 6:2



  1. Rashi on Exodus 19:2,

  2. Midrash Lekach Tov, Rashi cited at [2]

  3. Pirkei Avot 6:2, cited at [3]

  4. Where Are There 600,000 Letters of the Torah?, Malkie Janowski, [4]

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