Matthew, Chapter 15

- פ ה ל -

Jesus Cautions Against Following “Blind Guides”

1Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. 12Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? 13But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.(Matthew 15:1-14)

The Pharisees criticize the Apostles for not washing their hands prior to eating, as is dictated by Jewish tradition. Jesus replies by affirming that ethical commandments, such as honoring our parents, are far more important than any technical ritual like abstaining from eating certain foods. Therefore, anyone who criticizes true believers is himself a hypocrite. The important thing is what people think and say in their hearts, not what they do outwardly. People who focus on external appearances embrace negative, unimportant habits and are therefore akin to blind guides who should not be followed. A negative habit is the root of addictions that tarnish our faith. True impurity is what lies in the heart.

Caution is “pausing” between our natural reactivity and chosen positive  action.