BS"D. You know, I look at the photo I took of one of the alleyways of my hometown Tzfat and I realize how Hashem has blessed me by taking me from the west side of Chicago and placing me here where the makifim are stronger than any place on earth. At the end of the alleyway in the photo is the Abbu house, in which resides an old Tzfat family and a 600 year old Sefer Torah that leads the parade of upwards of 400,000 celebrants to Meron the afternoon before Lag B'Omer.
I wonder about the ultra-Orthodox Jews who dance and sing on Lag B'Omer, a holiday with no source in the Torah nor any in the Talmud. And yet many of these same rabbis and their followers say tachanun davka (prayers of supplication) on Yom Atzmaut and Yom Yerusalayim. And you want to tell me rabbinic Judaism isn't politics? It is politics today. It was politics in the time of Rabban Gamliel and it was politics in the time of Hillel and Shammai, and it was politics in the time of Ezra and Mordecai. Rabbinic Judaism is and has always been 60% politics and 40% Torah. But that is more than any where else. So, you cannot leave it, but you also cannot blindly accept it. You have to sift. Ah, but there is the rub. To be able to sift, you have to know what is true and what is false. What is a path and what is a trap. The Talmud is the output of 500 years of Chachamim, wise men, sages. They knew what they were doing and they put their brotherhood first, sometimes to the exclusion of all others.
But the truth is that a Chacham cannot be trusted in the way that a Navi (Prophet) can be trusted. You can see it with Baalam (Bilham). He was an evil man on a very high spiritual level. He was both a Navi and a Chacham. He was paid to curse the Israelites, but as a prophet, G-d was revealed to him and he was prevented from cursing them and was forced to bless them.
But then, he put his Chacham hat on and told Moav and Midian to send their gorgeous daughters out to the Israelites' encampment and seduce the men to avodah zara and sexual licentiousness. And the chochmah worked. It resulted in a plague by the hand of G-d that took out 14,000 Israelites. Prophecy benefits everyone. Chochma may be used to benefit only the Chacham and his family and friends. All the rest may suffer from it. Chochma can be used to liberate or enslave. Chochma can be used for evil. And the most important thing to know for anyone who values wisdom, is that one does not acquire wisdom by studying the wisdom of others. One gains knowledge by studying the wisdom of others. Wisdom comes from two other sources: 1) Thinking about G-d. 2) Syata d'Shemaya, the help of heaven.
The Church, on the other hand, causes you to think about the Church. It is called re-direction and is an essential ingredient in all witchcraft.
The Torah is different because it alone was written by G-d Himself, as Moses says in Ex. 32:32, “And now, if you will not erase their sin, then erase me from the book that You have written.” The term here is sefer, meaning a scroll or later also a book. So which sefer did G-d write? He wrote the Ten Commandments, but they are not a sefer, they are luchot, tablets. So it must be referring to the Torah Scroll, the Five Books of Moses, but G-d did not write them. Moses wrote them. But here is the source to say that G-d openly dictated the words of the Torah and Moses wrote them down as a scribe, not in the way of other prophets, who sometimes have to unravel riddles and cryptic meanings to understand and utilize their prophetic revelations. Because of all this, the Torah alone can be completely trusted. The Oral Tradition, on the other hand, must be sifted. You need to make sure your shepherd does not work for the wolves.