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Judaism. Its Origins, Beliefs and Practices. “ Upon three things the world stands: On Torah, on (Divine) Service, and on Deeds of Loving kindness.” Pirke Avot 1:2. Roots of Judaism: The Hebrews.

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Its Origins, Beliefs and Practices

“Upon three things the world stands:

On Torah, on (Divine) Service, and on Deeds of Loving kindness.”

  • Pirke Avot 1:2
roots of judaism the hebrews
Roots of Judaism: The Hebrews
  • According to Jewish tradition, God chose Abraham who was born under the name Abram in the city of Ur in Babylonia in the year to be the “father” of the Jewish people
  • “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you, I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great.” Genesis 12: 1-2
  • Abraham and his family make their way to the Land of Canaan, around 1800 BCE
  • This agreement between God and Abraham is called a covenant in Hebrew (the language of Judaism) it is called a brit
  • The idea of b'rit is fundamental to traditional Judaism:
more on abraham
More on Abraham
  • Abram had a son with Hagar a maidservant, Ishmael who is the descendent of the Arabs.
  • He had another son Isaac who is ancestor of the Jewish Isaac in Hebrew means laughter, and apparently this was Sarai’s (Sarah) reaction when she found out she was pregnant at the age of 90
  • [Abraham died at the age of 175.]
isaac and jacob
Isaac and Jacob
  • Isaac has a son Jacob-Name later changed to Israel-Jews are often referred to as the Children of Israel
  • Jacob has 12 sons who later become the 12 tribes of Israel
  • About 1650 BCE Abraham’s descendents leave Canaan (modern day Israel) for Egypt because of a drought and famine
the matriarchs
The Matriarchs
  • Sarah=Abraham’s wife
  • Rebecca = Isaac’s wife
  • Rachel= Jacob’s wife
  • Leah = Jacob’s wife
trouble in egypt
Trouble in Egypt
  • In Egypt the Hebrews were welcome at first but then the bible explains they became too numerous and were enslaved
  • One of the central figures in the Torah
  • Unleashes the 10 Plagues upon the Egyptians
  • Leads the Hebrews out of Egypt between 1300 and 1200 BCE—Known as the Exodus
  • Leads the Jews for 40 years in the desert
  • Carries down the laws from Mt. Sinai
mount sinai and the revelation
Mount Sinai and the Revelation
  • 10 commandments and other teachings
  • Hebrews believed these formed a covenant between them and God
  • God promised to protect the Hebrews and they promised to keep God’s laws
the ten commandments
The Ten Commandments

In Hebrew they are know as the 10 Statements

  • I am the Lord your god who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage
  • You shall have no other gods besides Me.
  • You shall not carry the Lord your God’s name in vain.
  • Remember the Sabbath day to make it holy.
  • Honor your father and mother.
  • You shall not murder.
  • You shall not commit adultery.
  • You shall not steal.
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife or …anything that is your neighbors. (Telushkin, 55)
back to canaan
Back to Canaan
  • Around 1250 BCE Israelites return to Canaan and stop nomadic life
  • Loosely organized into 12 tribes which lived in different parts of the territory.
  • Judges would unite the tribes in times of emergency and provide military and judicial leadership
  • Prophets taught the Hebrews to live justly and stay true to the covenant
the kingdom of israel
The Kingdom of Israel
  • Bad location leads to constant invasion
  • The Israelites establish a stable kingdom under Kings Saul, David and Solomon
  • Solomon builds the temple in Jerusalem in about circa 962-922 BCE
  • Kingdom divided between Judah (thus Judaism) in the South and Israel in the North
  • Temple destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE
  • Temple was rebuilt in 515 BCE and destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 CE
key texts
Key Texts
  • The Torah: Often called the 5 Books of Moses-
      • Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy
  • Torah contains 613 commandments or Mitzvot
  • The Hebrew Scriptures or Hebrew Bible includes the Torah, The Prophets, and the Writings- In Hebrew this is called the Tanach- Christians refer to it as the Old Testament
the talmud
The Talmud
  • When Moses was given the Torah he also received oral explanations of its content
  • Oral explanations were passed down for generations
  • Population of teachers decimated by the Great Revolt in 66 CE and the Bar Kochba Rebellion in 135 CE
  • Rabbi Judah organizes the oral law into the Mishna “learning by repetition”
  • Written in 220 CE
  • Rabbis began to write down their discussions and interpretations of these oral laws into the Talmud
  • Palestinian Talmud 400 CE
  • Babylonian Talmud 500 CE
  • So it’s the oral laws and rabbinical interpretations of those laws
fundamental beliefs
Fundamental Beliefs
  • There is one and only one God
  • Judaism gave the world the concept of Ethical monotheism:
  • 1. There is one God from whom emanates one morality for all humanity.
  • 2. God's primary demand of people is that they act decently toward one another. If all people subscribed to this simple belief—which does not entail leaving, or joining, any specific religion, or giving up any national identity—the world would experience far less evil. (jewishvirtuallibrary.com)
more beliefs
More Beliefs
  • Each individual has a direct personal experience with this God
  • God is the ultimate authority and possess final dominion over the universe
  • Life is holy
  • The Torah is a guide to correct and ethical living and a source of continued revelation of the word of God.
  • Group worship and prayer are indispensable elements of a righteous life
  • Jews around the world, regardless of nationality, share a broad common destiny and a sense of collective purpose and responsibility for one another
rabbi moshe ben maimon maimanides 1135 1204
Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, Maimanides1135-1204

Thirteen principles of faith are most widely-accepted BUT non-official list of Jewish beliefs.

  • God exists.
  • God is one and unique.
  • God is incorporeal.
  • God is eternal.
  • Prayer is to be directed to God alone.
  • The words of the prophets are true.
  • Moses was the greatest prophet, and his prophecies are true.
  • The Torah was given to Moses.
  • There will be no other Torah.
  • God knows the thoughts and deeds of men.
  • God will reward the good and punish the wicked.
  • The Messiah will come.
  • The dead will be resurrected.
  • The Hebrews proclaim the centrality of one God “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is One.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
  • Judaism is the world’s oldest monotheistic faith
concept of god
Concept of God
  • One God
  • God created everything
  • God is incorporeal: Meaning God has no form or body- references are simply figurative speech
  • God is neither male nor female
  • God is omnipresent: God is everywhere
  • God is omnipotent: God can do anything
  • God is omniscient: God knows all things
  • God is eternal and has no beginning and end
  • God is both just and merciful
  • God is holy and perfect
  • God is father and king
creation story
Creation Story

The World was Created in 6 days God rested on the 7th day

  • First day light/dark
  • Second day heaven and earth
  • Third day dry land appears
  • Fourth day Sun, Moon stars
  • Fifth day sea animals
  • Sixth day animals of the earth and humans to have dominion over the sea and earth
  • Seventh day God rested: Why?
belief in an afterlife
Belief in an Afterlife
  • No uniform position on afterlife
  • Generally Jews look beyond the ideas of heaven and hell
  • The human soul is immortal
  • Importance of living a righteous life and emulating God’s mercy, justice and tolerance in this life
  • Heavy emphasis on “Tikkun Olam” Repairing the world
  • Stark contrast to Christianity and Islam that focus on eternal punishment or reward
religion today
Religion Today
  • 13-14 million Jews worldwide
  • Most live in United States and Israel
  • Maintains the righteous of all nations shall have a place in the world to come
  • Various movements within Judaism:

Orthodox: Strict interpretation of the Torah and Talmud

Conservative: more liberal interpretation of Torah

Reform: Most liberal interpretation of the Torah

judaism a way of life halakhah
Judaism a Way of Life-Halakhah
  • The laws governing Jewish living are called Halakhah –”to follow a path”
  • Three parts of Jewish laws- first those written in the Torah and interpreted in the Talmud
  • Second laws added by Rabbis
  • Finally, traditions, customs, and practices that have acquired the status of laws
  • These show the path in which an observant Jew should live
lifecycle events
Lifecycle events
  • Brit Milah: Circumcision of all male children on the 8th day of life
  • Bar/Bat Mitzvah: Age 13 Jewish children enter into the adult community and are responsible for their own actions
  • Marriage: (Kiddushim=santification)
  • Death: rituals depend on the branch of Judaism followed
  • Shabbat: A day of rest, from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday (every week)
  • Rosh Hashanah: Jewish New Year (Sept. - Oct)
  • Yom Kippur: 10 days after Rosh Hashanah, Day of Atonement (Sept. - Oct.)
  • Sukkot: A harvest celebration, starts immediately after Yom Kippur (Sept-Oct)
more holidays
More Holidays
  • Chanukah: Commemorates the Jewish victory over the Syrians by the Maccabees, 2nd century BCE. First documented case of a people fighting for religious freedom (December)
  • Purim: Commemorates the deliverance of the Persian Jews from Destruction (March)
  • Passover: Commemorates the Exodus from Egypt (March-April)
  • Shavuot: Celebrates God’s giving of the Torah to the Jewish People (May-June)
anti semitism
  • Discrimination, prejudice, and hatred of Jews who are a Semitic people
  • The Jews have faced a long history of Anti-Semitism
importance of the land of israel
Importance of the Land of Israel
  • Jews have lived in this land continuously from the time of its conquest 3200 years ago when Joshua entered the land.
  • Mentioned as the land of the Jewish people consistently throughout the bible
  • Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism, it is where the temples were built
  • Zionism is Jewish nationalism. The belief in a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel
  • Roger, Beck B., Black Linda, Krieger S. Larry, Phillip C. Naylor, and Shabaka I. Dahia. World History: Patterns of Interaction. McDougal Littell, 2007. 77-85.
  • Brandon, Toropov, and Buckles Luke. World Religions. 3rd ed. New York: Alpha Books, 2004. 31-67.
  • Telushkin, Joseph. Jewish Literacy. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1991.
  • Rich, Tracy. Judaism 101. 22 Sept. 2006. 3 Nov. 2006 <http://www.jewfaq.org/>.
  • Talmud, Mishnah, Gemara. Jewish Virtual Library. January 2010.
  • The Torah: a Modern Commentary. 1:10-3:5. Union for Reformed Judaism, 2005.