If you aren’t familiar with this particular passage in the B’rit Chadashah, it is where Yeshua (Jesus) is telling people that new wine cannot go into old wineskins, and a new patch (unshrunk cloth) should not be sewn onto old clothes. Instead, new wine must go into new wineskins.
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In some cases, this passage is used to justify that there is no longer need for Gentile Believers to obey the laws of Moses, in that the Torah is the “old wine” and the “old clothes”. Yeshua’s teachings are the new wine that must go into new wineskins, indicating that any Jew (those are the only people Yeshua was talking to in those days) who still abided with the traditions and commandments as taught by the Pharisees would not be able to accept this new understanding.
But this passage has nothing to do with the law itself because Yeshua wasn’t talking about the performance of the commandments: he was talking about having an open mind to the deeper meaning of the commandments.
There is a Jewish form of exegesis called PaRDeS. The “P stands for P’shat, which is the literal meaning of the laws (i.e., plain language- what you hear is what it is); the “R” is for Remes, a deeper, more spiritual meaning. The “D” is for Drash, a story (or parable, if you will) that has a moral meaning, and the “S” is for Sud, an almost mystical understanding of the law.
Yeshua taught the Remes, which is not what the Pharisees had been teaching. That is why people said that no one ever taught as he did. We see this especially in the Sermon on the Mount when Yeshua said we have been told do not murder (P’shat), but he says do not even hate in your heart (Remes). He also said we have been told do not commit adultery (P’shat), but we should not even lust with our eyes (Remes).
And he taught the people using parables (Drash).
So, when Yeshua talked about not using an unshrunk patch (someone who doesn’t know the existing traditions) on an old cloth (someone who has been indoctrinated into the old ways of understanding) he meant that a new Believer who tried to work within the old traditions would become confused and not be able to maintain his new faith.
I believe this statement was not meant for that time but was a prophecy regarding newly Believing Gentiles who would one day be confused by Jewish Believers who wanted these neophyte Gentile Believers to make a total conversion to both the Torah and the traditions of Judaism overnight (the letter Shaul wrote to the Galatians confirms this problem existed).
The reason you don’t place new wine in old wineskins is that the new wine will continue to ferment, releasing gases that will expand the wineskin. If an old wineskin (one that has been stretched out already) is used for new wine, the expanding gases will burst it and the wine will be lost.
The Jews who knew the Torah only as a set of rules to be followed to the letter (P’shat) are the old wineskins, and what Yeshua was teaching was new wine (the Remes). He never taught anything against the laws of Moses, only the deeper meaning of them- that is the new wine.
What Yeshua was teaching would eventually expand a person’s understanding of the Torah, so if someone was not open to learning this newer, deeper meaning of the law (being a new wineskin), then what will happen is that being an old wineskin (their minds incapable of accepting this newer meaning) they will “burst”, i.e. reject Yeshua and what he taught and revert to their comfort zone of just doing what the Pharisees taught, what is today the Rabbinic rules in the Talmud called Halacha.
If you are wondering why it is so important to know the Remes, read Jeremiah 31:31, which is the New Covenant God promised to make with us: we are to have the Torah written on our hearts, meaning that it isn’t just doing what the Torah says that matters (P’shat), it is wanting to do it (Remes)!
I think we can all agree that when you really want to do something, it is much easier to do, even if it is difficult or requires sacrifice.
When God gave the Torah to Moses to teach to the children of Israel, he knew this would be hard for them. That is why he allowed us to deal only with the P’shat- we were only able to drink milk.
After a few thousand years with the P’shat, God sent Yeshua to teach us the Remes, the real meat of the law, giving us the opportunity to come closer to God and better understand what he meant. This was necessary for us to complete God’s plan of salvation, which is to be his nation of priests (Exodus 19:6) by bringing the full understanding of the Torah to the Gentiles.
The next time Yeshua comes will be to bring to final completion God’s plan of salvation for the world. That is when those who were able to be new wineskins, Jew and Gentile, will be united with God forever.
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That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!