The characteristics of Judaism
The characteristics of Judaism such as the beliefs, ethics, rituals and ceremonies and sacred texts do have a major impact in many ways on the adherents and it provides a source of purpose and identity for individuals. It gives meaning and guidance in contemporary situations and therefore it is considered a dynamic, living religion. Beliefs Judaism is a monotheistic faith, meaning that Jews believe there is only One God. Often this God is beyond our ability to comprehend, but God is nevertheless present in our everyday lives. The covenant is an agreement the Jewish people have with their God.
Jews believe that there is only one God, no other being participated in the work of creation and God is the only being to whom they offer praise. The terms of the covenant are summed up in the Ten Commandments that reveal adherents must have a respectful, obedient relationship with God and live harmoniously and respectfully with others. In return God will never abandon his Chosen people and God will provide salvation. Ethnics Jewish adherents ethical beliefs are derived from the 613 mitzvoth that Orthodox Jews believe were given to Moses on Mt. Sinai and taught to the Israelites as they travelled the desert to the Promised Land. Other variants believe they may have also been delivered to other divinely inspired people over time. The 248 positive and 365 negative commandments have been discussed and interpreted throughout the centuries by divinely inspired philosophers and rabbis so that they can provide guidance in every aspect of everyday life. Sacred Texts There are many sacred writings in Judaism, all of which teach Judaism’s adherents how to live ethical and moral lives.
The writings are a major source of the laws which regulate Jewish life. Jewish sacred writings are read and studied on an ongoing basis by believers. The Jewish holy book is the Tanakh, containing the Torah and the prophetic books. The Torah is the most holy book of Judaism. Torah, which means “teaching”, is God’s revealed instructions to the Jewish People. It is important to note that while “Torah” is generally used to refer to the Five Books of Moses or Pentateuch, it is sometimes used to refer to the basic texts of Judaism in general.
In this sense, “Torah” includes the Torah itself, as well as Midrash, Mishnah, and Talmud, which are the Oral Torah. Ceremonies and rituals There are many sacred ceremonies and rituals in Judaism such as Circumcision (Bris) male Jewish children are circumcised on the eighth day after their birth as a sign of a covenant between Abraham and God.. A Bar Mitzvah; at the age of thirteen, Jewish law considers boys to have reached adulthood. A special service is held in the boy’s honour, and he is permitted to read from the Torah for the first time.
The comparable ceremony for girls is a Bat Mitzvah which varies in religious significance depending on the sect of Judaism. The Sabbath, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the Passover, Shavuot, are all other important ceremonies that are apart of Judaism. The Commandments of the Torah The most important source of ethical guidance for Jews is the Torah which encompasses the Written and Oral Torah. Jewish ethics is derived from the covenantal relationship where they were protected and taught their responsibilities towards God and other people. There are 613 mitzvot 248 positive and 365 negative.
The Prophetic Vision The Prophets advocated a pro-active stance to reforming social structures by emphasizing the broad themes of justice, equality and peace during a time when these concepts were of secondary importance compared to observance of law and ritual. The implication of Tikkun Olam is that all individuals have the dual responsibility of rectifying inequalities in society by helping the poor and needy, and acting as a steward by caring for the earth. The book of Wisdom The Book of Proverbs is one of the most significant collections within the genre of Wisdom literature.
The Book of Proverbs is a collection of short, pithy statements which offer practical and simple advice on how to lead a moral life and behave prudently. (Wisdom, righteousness, purity, generosity of spirit) Shabbat Of the many observances and practices of Judaism, the Jewish Sabbath or Jewish Shabbat (in Hebrew) is the best known and most commonly practiced. The Jewish Shabbat is a day of rest at the end of the week, beginning on sundown Friday night, and ending on Saturday night, when three stars appear in the sky.
It is an eagerly awaited chance for the Jewish people to set aside so many of their common concerns and worries and enjoy higher pursuits. Human beings are called to imitate God who rested on the seventh day after creating the world. Shabbat is the most significant liturgical event of the week. Shabbat reminds the Jewish people of the greatness of God in creating the cosmos. It reminds the Jewish people of the Covenant between God and the People of Israel which lies at the heart of Judaism (Exodus 31:16). The Jewish Sabbath is a day of celebration as well as one of prayer.
It is the only rituals laid down by the Ten Commandments and is considered to be one of the most important ritual observed by the Jewish faith. The day itself is a day of rest and enrichment. The word “Shabbat” derives from a root word in Hebrew that means “to cease, to end, to rest. ” Intense preparation is needed as the day approaches. Physical preparations include shopping and cleaning, which must be completed so that Shabbat is not interrupted. The meals need to be prepared and the table laid for the Friday evening meal.
This is an important family occasion. Before the Friday night meal, the most significant, Kiddush (a blessing) is recited. Many Jews attend synagogue services on Friday night and Saturday morning. Shabbat being over, a plaited candle is lit and hands are spread out towards the light as a third blessing is said. This is a reminder that the first thing God created was light to be used to good purpose. From this is can be concluded that Jews believe that by fulfilling the commandments, they are communicating with God on the Shabbat.
They understand the mitzvot to be God’s way of reaching out to people. The Shabbat provides a means of reflecting on these commandments and developing a deeper, joyful relationship with god and family. Conclusion Judaism is a powerful, living religion because it has provided adherents with purpose, meaning, heritage and identity. Judaism focuses on relationships; the relationship between God and man, between God and the Jewish people, between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, and between human beings.
The scriptures specify the mutual obligations created by these relationships, although various movements of Judaism disagree about the nature of these obligations. Some say they are absolute, unchanging laws from God (Orthodox); some say they are laws from God that change and evolve over time (Conservative); some say that they are guidelines that you can choose whether or not to follow (Reform, Reconstructionist). The variants have formed as different communities have interpreted beliefs and ethics and adapted rituals to meet their needs in different context and because of this Judaism is clearly a dynamic religion.
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