• The Jewish People believe there is one God who created and rules the world. This God is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing) and omnipresent (in all places at all times). God is also just and merciful. Judaism is an ethical religion. When the Israelites accepted the Ten Commandments from God at Mount Sinai, they committed themselves to following a code of law which regulates both how they worship and how they treat other people. -The Ten Commandments- I am the Lord your God You shall not recognize the gods of others in My presence You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain Remember the day of shabbat to keep it holy Honor your father and your mother You shall not murder You shall not commit adultery You shall not steal Do not give false testimony against your neighbor You shall not covet your fellow's possessions It is believed that each person is created in the image of one God. Therefore, all people are created equal. Furthermore, our likeness to God is in our intellectual ability to understand. Judaism believes that people have freewill and are responsible for the choices made. Judaism believes the Land of Israel was part of the covenant made between God and the Jewish People at Mount Sinai. Since the time of Abraham, there has been a continual Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. Jews believe the Messiah (Mashiach) will be a person (not a god), from the family of King David, who will lead the world to unity and peace. Jews do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. *Rambam's thirteen principles of faith is the most widely-accepted list of Jewish beliefs: 1. G-d exists. 2. G-d is one and unique. 3. G-d is incorporeal. 4. G-d is eternal. 5. Prayer is to be directed to G-d alone. 6. The words of the prophets are true. 7. Moses was the greatest prophet, and his prophecies are true. 8. The Torah was given to Moses. 9. There will be no other Torah. 10. G-d knows the thoughts and deeds of men. 11. G-d will reward the good and punish the wicked. 12. The Messiah will come. 13. The dead will be resurrected. The following famous story from the Talmud best summarizes the essence of Judaism. A non-Jew asked Rabbi Hillel to teach him all about the Torah while standing on one foot. Rabbi Hillel said: "What is hateful to you, don't do unto your neighbor. The rest is commentary. Now, go and study." *Note on the spelling of God (G-d) in Rambam's thirteen principles of faith: Because the name of God is so holy, in Hebrew there are several ways to say God's without profaning the name itself, which is not to be said aloud. Ha'shem or Adonai are examples of words used to refer to God. Out of respect to Orthodox and very pious, or devout Jews, the word God is frequently spelled in English as G-d.
  • Unlike other ancient religions and cultures, Judaism is rooted in history, not in mythology. Yet, some might ask: The Jews are such a tiny minority, about 18 million in a world of over 5 thousand million people, why should we be interested in their religion, Judaism? MOSES, Jesus, Mahler, Marx, Freud, and Einstein,what did all of them have in common? All were Jews, and in different ways, all have affected the history and culture of mankind. Very evidently Jews have been noteworthy for thousands of years. The Bible itself is a testimony to that. Generally speaking, the Jewish people are descendants of an ancient, Hebrew-speaking branch of the Semitic race. (Genesis 10:1, 21-32; 1 Chronicles 1:17-28, 34; 2:1, 2) Nearly 4,000 years ago, their forefather Abram emigrated from the thriving metropolis of Ur of the Chaldeans in Sumeria to the land of Canaan, of which God had stated: " I will assign this land to your offspring." (Genesis 11:31 and 12:7) He is spoken of as "Abram the Hebrew" at Genesis 14:13, although his name was later changed to Abraham. (Genesis 17:4-6) From him the Jews draw a line of descent that begins with his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. (Genesis 32:27-29) Israel had 12 sons, who became the founders of 12 tribes. One of those was Judah, from which name the word "Jew" was eventually derived. 2 Kings 16:6. In time the term "Jew" was applied to all Israelites, not just to a descendant of Judah. (Esther 3:6; 9:20) Because the Jewish genealogical records were destroyed in 70 C.E. when the Romans razed Jerusalem, no Jew today can accurately determine from which tribe he himself is descended. Nevertheless, over the millenniums, the ancient Jewish religion has developed and changed. Today Judaism is practiced by millions of Jews in the Republic of Israel and the Diaspora (dispersion around the world). What is the basis of this religion? God Is One Simply put, Judaism is the religion of a people. Therefore, a convert becomes part of the Jewish people as well as the Jewish religion. It is a monotheistic religion in the strictest sense and holds that God intervenes in human history, especially in relation to the Jews. Jewish worship involves several annual festivals and various customs. Although there are no creeds or dogmas accepted by all Jews, the confession of the oneness of God as expressed in the Shema, a prayer based on Deuteronomy 6:4 (JP), forms a central part of synagogue worship: "HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE." This belief in one God was passed on to Christianity and Islam. According to Dr. J. H. Hertz, a rabbi: "This sublime pronouncement of absolute monotheism was a declaration of war against all polytheism . . . In the same way, the Shema excludes the trinity of the Christian creed as a violation of the Unity of God." But now let us turn to Jewish belief on the subject of the afterlife. Death, Soul, and Resurrection One of the basic beliefs of modern Judaism is that man has an immortal soul that survives the death of his body. But does this originate in the Bible? The Encyclopaedia Judaica frankly admits: "It was probably under Greek influence that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul came into Judaism." However, this created a doctrinal dilemma, as the same source states: "Basically the two beliefs of resurrection and the soul's immortality are contradictory. The one refers to a collective resurrection at the end of the days, i.e., that the dead sleeping in the earth will arise from the grave, while the other refers to the state of the soul after the death of the body." How was the dilemma resolved in Jewish theology? "It was held that when the individual died his soul still lived on in another realm (this gave rise to all the beliefs regarding heaven and hell) while his body lay in the grave to await the physical resurrection of all the dead here on earth." University lecturer Arthur Hertzberg writes: "In the [Hebrew] Bible itself the arena of man's life is this world. There is no doctrine of heaven and hell, only a growing concept of an ultimate resurrection of the dead at the end of days." That is a simple and accurate explanation of the Biblical concept, namely, that "the dead know nothing . . . For there is no action, no reasoning, no learning, no wisdom in Sheol [mankind's common grave], where you are going." Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Daniel 12:1, 2; Isaiah 26:19. According to the Encyclopaedia Judaica, "In the rabbinic period the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is considered one of the central doctrines of Judaism, and is to be distinguished from the belief in . . . the immortality of the soul." Today, however, while the immortality of the soul is accepted by all factions of Judaism, the resurrection of the dead is not. In contrast with the Bible, the Talmud, influenced by Hellenism, is replete with explanations and stories and even descriptions of the immortal soul. Later Jewish mystical literature, the Kabbala, even goes so far as to teach reincarnation (transmigration of souls), which is basically an ancient Hindu teaching. In Israel today, this is widely accepted as a Jewish teaching, and it also plays an important role in Hasidic belief and literature. For example, Martin Buber includes in his book Tales of the Hasidima, The Later Masters a tale about the soul from the school of Elimelekh, a rabbi of Lizhensk: "On the Day of Atonement, when Rabbi Abraham Yehoshua would recite the Avodah, the prayer that repeats the service of the high priest in the Temple of Jerusalem, and would come to the passage: "And thus he spoke, he would never say those words, but would say: And thus I spoke." For he had not forgotten the time his soul was in the body of a high priest of Jerusalem." Reform Judaism has gone so far as to reject belief in the resurrection. Having removed the word from Reform prayer books, it recognizes only the belief in the immortal soul. How much clearer is the Biblical idea as expressed at Genesis 2:7: "The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (JP) The combination of the body and the spirit, or life-force, constitutes "a living soul." (Genesis 2:7; 7:22; Psalm 146:4) Conversely, when the human sinner dies, then the soul dies. (Ezekiel 18:4, 20) Thus, at death man ceases to have any conscious existence. His life-force returns to God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 3:19; 9:5, 10; 12:7) The truly Biblical hope for the dead is the resurrection, Hebrew: techi·yath´ ham·me·thim´, or "revival of the dead." While this conclusion might surprise even many Jews, the resurrection has been the real hope of worshipers of the true God for thousands of years. About 3,500 years ago, faithful, suffering Job spoke of a future time when God would raise him from Sheol, or the grave. (Job 14:14, 15) The prophet Daniel was also assured that he would be raised "at the end of the days." Daniel 12:2, 12 (13, JP; NW). Judaism and God's Name 38 Judaism teaches that while God's name exists in written form, it is too holy to be pronounced. The result has been that, over the last 2,000 years, the correct pronunciation has been lost. Yet, that has not always been the Jewish position. About 3,500 years ago, God spoke to Moses, saying: "Thus shall you speak to the Israelites: The LORD [Hebrew: , YHWH], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you: This shall be My name forever, this My appellation for all eternity." (Exodus 3:15; Psalm 135:13) What was that name and appellation? The footnote to the Tanakh states: "The name YHWH (traditionally read Adonai "the LORD") is here associated with the root hayah "to be." Thus, we have here the holy name of God, the Tetragrammaton, the four Hebrew consonants YHWH (Yahweh) that in their Latinized form have come to be known over the centuries in English as JEHOVAH.

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