Mark 2:16

New Testament

15 As Jesus was having a meal in Levi’s home, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the experts in the law and the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 When Jesus heard this he said to them, “Those who are healthy don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. So they came to Jesus and said, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don’t fast?” 19 Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they do not fast.

Avot D'Rabbi Natan 2


What is the fence that the sages made around their words? The sages said: the Shema of the evening prayer may be recited until midnight (Rabban Gamliel said: Until the rooster crows). When a person comes home from work, he should not say: I’ll eat a little, and drink a little, and sleep a little, and then afterward, I’ll recite the Shema. He may end up sleeping the whole night and not reciting. Rather, a person coming home from work in the evening should go straight to the house of prayer or to the house of study. If he is accustomed to read Scripture, he should study that first; if he is accustomed to recite Mishnah, he should study that first. If not, he should recite the Shema, and then finish praying. Anyone who violates the words [of the sages] deserves death. Rabban Gamliel said: Sometimes a person recites it [twice] – once at night, before the dawn has broken, and once after the dawn has broken. Then he will have fulfilled his obligation both for the day and for the night. (Thus the sages arose and added extra strictures, and made a fence for their words.) [And raise up many students.] For the House of Shammai, say: One should teach only a person who is wise, humble, of good pedigree, and rich. But the House of Hillel say: Teach everyone, for there were many sinners in Israel, and they were brought close to Torah study, and they came out righteous, kind, and proper.

 Notes and References

"... The first step toward understanding these passages is to recognize that the sayings themselves do not constitute a rejection of anything. Many scholars correctly recognize that Mark 7:19b is a later gloss. Many also recognize that the “not ... but ...” formulation, when properly understood, implies not a rejection of what follows the “not” but the prioritization of what follows the “but” (compare Mark 2:17). Once it is recognized that the statement is not a radical rejection of purity, two further observations emerge. First, we cannot say that the statement is too radically anti-Jewish to be considered historically authentic: as we recognize the statement’s ambiguity, so too we must recognize its possible historicity. Second, once we recognize that the statement constitutes a prioritization of one thing over another, then it becomes clear that to understand properly the statement as a whole, we must attend to both halves of it. We must explain not only why Jesus gives less importance to the defiling force of what comes into the mouth, but also why he gives more importance to the defiling force of what comes out ..."

Klawans, Jonathan "Moral and Ritual Purity" in Levine, Amy-Jill, et al. (eds.) The Historical Jesus in Context (pp. 266-284) Princeton University Press, 2009

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