Matthew 23:5

New Testament

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. 6 They love the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and elaborate greetings in the marketplaces and to have people call them ‘Rabbi.’ 8 But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. 9 And call no one your ‘father’ on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.

Sotah 22b

Babylonian Talmud

The Gemara explains: The righteous of Shechem [shikhmi]; this is one who performs actions comparable to the action of the people of Shechem, who agreed to circumcise themselves for personal gain; so too, he behaves righteously only in order to be honored. The self-flagellating righteous; this is one who injures his feet, as he walks slowly, dragging his feet on the ground in an attempt to appear humble, and injures his feet in the process. The bloodletting righteous; Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak says that this is one who lets blood by banging his head against the walls because he walks with his eyes shut, ostensibly out of modesty. The pestle-like righteous; Rabba bar Sheila says that this is one who walks bent over like the pestle of a mortar. With regard to the righteous one who says: Tell me what my obligation is and I will perform it, the Gemara asks: Isn’t this virtuous behavior, as he desires to be aware of his obligations? Rather, this is referring to one who says: Tell me what further obligations are incumbent upon me and I will perform them, indicating that he fulfills all of his mitzvot perfectly and therefore seeks additional obligations. The baraita also includes in the list of pseudo-righteous people those who are righteous due to love and those who are righteous due to fear, i.e., one who performs mitzvot due to love of their reward or due to fear of punishment. Abaye and Rava said to the tanna who transmitted this baraita: Do not teach in the baraita: Those who are righteous due to love and those who are righteous due to fear, as Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: A person should always engage in Torah study and in performance of the mitzvot even if he does not do so for their own sake, as through performing them not for their own sake, one comes to perform them for their own sake. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: That which is hidden is hidden, and that which is revealed is revealed, but in Heaven everything is known, and the great court in Heaven will exact payment from those who wear the cloak of the righteous but are in fact unworthy. The Gemara relates: King Yannai said to his wife before he died: Do not be afraid of the Pharisees [perushin], and neither should you fear from those who are not Pharisees, i.e., the Sadducees; rather, beware of the hypocrites who appear like Pharisees, as their actions are like the act of the wicked Zimri and they request a reward like that of the righteous Pinehas (see Numbers, chapter 25).

 Notes and References

"... 'Be careful not to do your righteousness before others for the purpose of being seen by them.' In its Matthean context this is a continuation of the criticism of Pharisees in the First Gospel. (compare Matthew 23:5 - 'They do all their deeds to be seen by others.' This is similar to j. Berakhot 14b [b. Sotah 22b], which describes seven types of Pharisees, one of which is the 'shoulder Pharisee' who packs his good works on his shoulder [to be seen by others] ..."

Talbert, Charles H. Reading the Sermon on the Mount: Character Formation and Decision Making in Matthew 5-7 (p. 103) University of South Carolina Press, 2004

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