בס"ד This is a blog for Jews who feel a sense of deep identification with HaYachad (Dead Sea Sect). This group is for Jews who feel nostalgia and longing for a Judaism that was, and a profound yearning for it to be again. Our way leads to the Self-realization and, on an even more deeply satisfying level, the Mutual-Realization of Mashi'ach. That is what differentiates us from HaPrushim. NO MATERIAL HERE IS TO BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION.

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Location: Tzfat, Israel

Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Did HaIsi’im (The Essenes) Observe Torah Sh’be’al Pe (Tush’ba, for short - the Oral Law)?

The answer is undeniably affirmative. We have overpowering archaological evidence to prove that this is true. The Talmud tells us that HaTzaddokim (The Sadducees) did not follow Torah Sh’be’al Pe. In truth, HaTzedokim who remained true to the faith did follow true Torah Sh’be’al Pe. What they refused to do was accept rulings of the Prushim (the Pharisees) that have no base in Torah Sh’bikhtav (The Written Tradition).

There were many different groups that were all lumped together as “Tzaddokim” (Sadducees) by the Prushim (The Pharisees). Some of them were Hellenists and extremely destructive to the Jewish People. The Prushim use this as a pretense to slander all of HaTzaddokim. This is an atrocious case of lying and lashon hara, because among HaTzaddokim there were many devoutly religious and holy Jews. Among the holiest and most devout of them them were HaIsi’im. Yoseph ben Mittityahu (Josephus) describes the Dead Sea sect, and those close to them who dwelled in towns and cities, as a distinct group in and of themselves, even though they were Tzaddokim. Their holiness was so singular that they were entitled to be mentioned as a separate group. HaIsi’im, Josephus said, were the most righteous Jews of those generations. We must wonder, therefore, why the redactors of the Talmud chose to ignore them as a particular group and lumped them together will all Tzaddokim, or worse yet Minim (apostates). No matter; we now have the scrolls in hand that demonstrate clearly that HaPrushim maligned HaIsi’im.

It must be remembered that according to Torah it is only the sons of Tzaddok, the High Priest at the time of David HaMelekh, who are permitted to be High Priests. The arrogation of this office on the part of the Maccabim, who were priests, but not direct descendants of Tzaddok the High Priest, with the aiding and abetting of the Prushim was in absolute violation of Torah.

Now for the Dead Sea Sect of whom I shall speak particularly: Did they observe Torah Sh’be’al Pe?

Let us begin with the site of Qumran itself. There we found mikva’ot, as well as t’fillin and mezuzot. How could there be mikva’ot, t’fillin and mezuzot if they did not observe Torah Sh’be’al Pe? How could they know how to make these, or even to make them at all had they not been in possession of the Oral Tradition and followed it? The t’fillin found at Qumran contained the very same verses that are found in t’fillin according to Rash”i and Rebbenu Tam, although the Dead Sea Sect, Rash”i and Rebbenu Tam disagree on the order of the verses. The t’fillin of the Dead Sea Sect were smaller than those we know today, but they were written perfectly. Each passage was kept in a separate indent in the t’fillin, just as it is done today. No two letters touched and each letter was perfectly formed. According to the Dead Sea sect the order of the t’fillin is: Deut. 11:13 – 21, Exodus 13:11 –16, Deut. 6:4 – 9, Ex. 13:1-10. According to the Rash”i and the Ramba”m the order is: Deut. 11:13 – 21, Deut. 6:4 – 9, Ex. 13:11 – 16, Ex. 13:1 – 10. While according to Rebbenu Tam the order is Deut. 6:4 – 9, Deut. 11:13 – 21, Ex. 13:11 – 16, Ex. 13. 1 – 10.

The mezuzot that have been found at Qumran also contained the passages required by later Rabbinic halakhah, i.e., Deut. 6:4 – 9 and 11:13 – 21, the first two paragraphs of the Sh’ma.

The Rabbis taught that a mikveh must contain forty se’ah of water in order to be kosher. The Tzaddokite Fragments (also called the Damascus Document) teaches that the amount of water needed to purify a person or a vessel is the amount required to cover a man’s body (X:11 – 12).

There are many issues that the Dead Sea give us the rulings on that are discussions we encounter in the Talmud, however, they are invariably less compromising. It would be apposite for the reader to examine the Tzaddokite Fragments (the Damascus Document) in order to see for herself or himself that this is true. Though the Tzaddokite Fragments contain a rich treasury of the oral laws that HaIsi’im followed there are many more to be found throughout the scrolls.

In his book RECLAIMING THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS in the chapter entitled Israel and the Nations, Rabbi Dr. Lawrence H. Schiffman writes: In the area of Jewish/non-Jewish relations the Zadokite Fragment presents a summary of laws enshrined by later rabbinic tradition in the Mishnah tractate Avodah Zarah (Foreign Worship).

We could bring example after example, but these suffice to demonstrate that HaIsi’im were aware of Tush’ba, followed true Tush’ba and were even in accord with the Prushim on many matters. In fact, where they Prushim were not in accord with HaIsi’im it was always HaIsi’im who were more concerned with purity and adherence to Torah. Moreover, it was the Prushim who, in compromising the Law in order to placate the wealthy and to draw the am ha’aretz (halakhic know-nothings) to the cult of the Temple at the expense of purity and correctness of the Avodah, who opened the doorway to Xianity, which also ruled leniently in order to gain in popularity and become powerful with the people, rachmanah litzlan.

The Rabbinic tradition rules that water poured from a vessel into an impure vessel does not render the vessel that was pure impure. HaIsi’im who were priests in the Temple and were extremely careful about ritual purity in the Temple and out rule otherwise. It is their opinion that it is one flow of water connecting the two vessels and that water if poured continuously from a pure vessel, if the flow of the water touches both the vessels at once renders to pure vessel impure [Compare The Halakhic Letter (Miktzat Ma’asei Torah), Fragment 8, column iv (=4Q396 ii – iii; 4Q397 6 – 13; 4QMMT B 51-66 with Tractate Yadayim 4:7] 5 - 8*. It was because of compromises such as these on the part of the Prushim that made them the object of derision and embarrassment to the Dead Sea Sect [See the Tzaddokite Fragments (Damascus Document) 1:18 – 20, 5:11 – 13, 8:12 – 13, 8:18, 19:24 – 26, 9:31;
Thanksgiving Hymns 4:10 – 11; Pesher Nachum 3 – 4 II, 8].

*The Halakhic Letter (Miktzat Ma’asei Torah) is a very interesting document. It was sent by the Dead Sea sect in their early stages in an attempt to explain their halakhic positions and attempt a reconciliation with the priests who were serving, erroneously, in the Temple and their Hasmonean ruler. We know that the missive arrived and was rebuffed because the cites of The Halakhic Letter above say: “[And] also concerning liquid streams: we say that in these there is no purity and also that liquid streams can not separate impure from pure, because the liquid of the liquid streams and their vessels is alike, the same liquid.” Whereas the cite in Tractate Yadayim given above says: The Sadducees say: “We complain against you, Pharisees. For you declare pure the (poured out) liquid stream”.” We see, then, that not only did the Hasmoneans and the Pharisees not defer to HaIsi’im, the rightful priests in charge of the Avodah, they chose to interpret an attempt at explanation of the Law and reconciliation as an act of “complaining”.

The proof truly is in the pudding, however. The terrible reality is that the tradition of the Prushim has brought calamity after calamity upon the Jewish People. The tradition of the Prushim has not protected us against every vile thing from within and from without. We see again and again that a person can scrupulously observe the mitzvoth as they are taught in the Rabbinic tradition and study their tests assiduously and still never reach more than the most elementary level of morality/spirituality in their thoughts and actions, though they certainly know how to talk a good game. Had the Rabbinical tradition been true Torah we would not have suffered as we have, and do, nor would we have sinned as we have and do. HaIsi’im were not forced to go into the galut for two thousand long and miserable years with no let up in sight, despite the fact that we have slapped-daubed together an ersatz “state” in the Holy Land in which the Rabbis are the paid flunkies of foreign interests who earn exorbitant salaries to teach the Jewish People all manners of nonsense because their gentile employers know that if the Jewish People were ever to regain their Torah we could no longer be controlled and enslaved. (While earning their exorbitant salaries the Rabbis enjoin the Israeli Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox to suffer poverty and economic doubt silently, telling their hapless students that their situation is the Will of HaShem, rachmanah litzlan.)

HaIsi’im were not forced into exile because they did not need a tikkun. This should be clear, however the Rabbinic tradition has so clouded our thoughts and emotions that only a handful are capable of seeing this truth. The greatest tikkun needed in our times and the greatest test of our d’veikut to HaShem is to throw off the yoke of Rabbinic falsehood and distortion and pray with all of our might to return to Torah as in days of old. The scrolls of the Dead Sea sect lay in caves in the desert waiting for us for two thousand years so that they may help us do just that. Could it be a coincidence that they were discovered just a few months before the state of Israel was declared. Were there no Bedouins tending their flocks in the area of Qumran before? Could it be a coincidence that on the very day that the state of Israel was declared that the archeologist Eliezer Sukenik, father of Yigal Yadin? Let us then recognize a miracle and a gift from HaShem and honor the holy Jews who bequeathed their knowledge to us so that we might find our way back to HaShem and the true Torah as they did.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat