What is the difference between rabbinical law and The Law?
Glad you asked! First of all, "the law" is an erroneously translated term by Christians, as the actual term is "Torah" (those first five Books of Moses), which consists of God's original divine Instructions in Righteousness.
"Rabbinical law," on the other hand, consists of the "fences" put in place by the sages and rabbis of old, who knocked themselves out trying to discern exactly what God meant with each of the commands.
The thing is, they went overboard on some things. For instance, on the "Sabbath Rest" command (both the weekly "Seventh Day" Sabbath and the seven High Holy Days/Feasts), some decided "rest" meant, not only are we supposed to rest from our weekly, income-producing work, but we shouldn't do ANYTHING that might be considered "work" - even turning on a light switch or brushing our teeth. Some Orthodox Jews (for instance, Chabad.org) tell you to "pre-tear” your paper towels and toilet paper before Shabbat, while there are some who refuse to get out of bed at all on Saturdays!
That's ridiculous, and Yeshua (Jesus) even said so! We MUST remember that the Sabbath day is a command by YHWH (and consequently His Messiah who was also the arm - Isaiah 53:1 and the Word, John 1:1, 14) (See also Matt. 12:8, 28:18, Rom. 14:5-6, Col. 2:16-17).
In other words, to understand the meaning of Shabbat, we must also see what Yeshua taught (John 13:13). For instance, Yeshua said all of the following works were permitted on Shabbat:
- Saving a life (Mark 3:4; Luke 6:9)
- Healing others (Luke 6:1-10; Mark 3:1-5; John 5:9; 9:14; Luke 13:10-16)
- Conducting brit milah (circumcision) (John 7:23)
- Teaching (Mark 1:21; Luke 4:31; Acts 18:4)
- Serving at the Temple (Matt. 12:5)
- Rescuing an animal in distress (Matt. 12:11; Luke 14:1-6)
- Showing acts of compassion (Matt. 12:1-4)
- Caring for animals (Luke 13:15)
- Carrying a bed (John 5:9-16) 10. Meeting the needs of others before fulfilling religious obligations (Mark 2:27-28)
We hope this helps to clarify for you the difference between “law” and “rabbinical law!”