“The great text-book of Rabbinism, the Mishnah, is almost entirely un-Messianic, one might say un-dogmatical. Where not a record of facts or traditions, the Mishnah is purely a handbook of legal determinations in their utmost logical sequences, only enlivened by discussions or the tale of instances in point. The whole tendency of this system was anti-Messianic.” Alfred Edersheim-Sketches of Jewish Social Life” p.67
According to Alfred Edersheim the legal logic of the Mishnah is anti-Messianic in nature, arguing that it is purely a handbook of legal determination and un-dogmatic. Edersheim further argues that the Rabbi’s had little power left them and consequently the Mishnah is an attempt to secure their safety in light of the authority of the Levinim and Cohanim.
While I believe he has some valid points in regards to content his anti-rabbinical theological positions has somewhat clouded his judgments. The Mishnah being a handbook of legal determination does not by default make it anti-Messianic. The famous Talmudic debate as to what to do with a chicken egg that has been labored on the Shabbat is a classic example. It is easy to get lost in the minutia of rabbinical debate and Halackah, however, would that all believers had the heart of such that they would concern themselves with an egg in regards to honoring Hashem’s Shabbat. In other words concern about that intimacies of the Torah can be honoring unto our Messiah who is the author and fullness of the Law if done by the leading of the Ruach of Hashem. It is through one of the teachings of our Messiah that we can find service in the minutia.
Matiyahu 23:23”Woe to you hypocritical Torah-teachers and P’rushim! You pay your tithes of mint, dill and cumin; but you have neglected the weightier matters of the Torah — justice, mercy, trust. These are the things you should have attended to – without neglecting the others!”
How often we stop after having read “but you have neglected the weightier matters of the Torah”. If we continue with our Messiah’s teaching we discover a great concern over the less weightier matters of the Law. But why would He be concerned over these smaller matters? Little weight is given over to man’s interpretation of Justice, Mercy, and Trust for they are outlined in detail through the less weightier matters of the Torah. If you lose Justice, Mercy, and Trust than these smaller matters becoming meaningless. Without these then one might as well tithe a rock in it’s stead.
Can not the same be said for the Mishnah’s legal determination? Can concern over the Kashrut of an egg labored on the Shabbat be a great Mitzvot if seen in the light of the weightier matters of Justice, Mercy and Trust?