Matthew 23:3

New Testament

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 4 They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by people, for they make their phylacteries wide and their tassels long.

Sifre Deuteronomy 154:4

Halakhic Midrash

(Ibid. 12) "According to the Torah that they teach you": This teaches us that (a rebellious elder) incurs the death penalty only for (controverting) words of Torah (i.e., the Written Law), but not for (controverting) the words of the scribes (i.e., the Oral Law). "and the judgment that they tell you to do": This is a positive commandment (i.e., the rebellious elder transgresses a positive commandment). "You shall not turn aside from the thing that they tell you": This is a negative commandment. "right or left": Even if it seems in your eyes (that they are telling you) left is right and right is left, listen to them.

 Notes and References

"... Jesus’ education and understanding of Torah was in agreement with the Pharisees’ norms, based on both the Written and Oral Torah (Luke 2:41-47). He even taught his disciples and followers: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in the seat of Moses, so be careful to observe everything they tell you” (Matthew 23:2-3). The expression “seat of Moses” is also found in midrashic literature and such seats have actually been found in ancient synagogues. Jesus, however, warned the people not to behave like the Pharisees, because “they say, but do not do” (Matthew 23:3) ..."

Safrai, Shmuel Jesus and the Hasidim (pp. 3-22) Jerusalem Perspective, No. 42, 1994

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