In this the penultimate edition – I cannot believe it’s already been four days – of my series on Religions of the World we will be focusing on a religion with a painful past – Judaism. Judaism may not be the largest religion in the world but, the Jewish people had something that I think many people today – religious or otherwise – lack – the willingness to die for what they believed in – so in honour of that I am dedicating this post to the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust – I don’t know all your names, but I pray for just a third of your courage.

Judaism is the “religion, philosophy, and way of life” of the Jewish people. Judaism, originating in the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Tanakh) and explored in later texts such as the Talmud, is considered by Jews to be the expression of the covenantal relationship God developed with the Children of Israel. According to traditional Rabbinic Judaism, God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah. This was historically challenged by the Karaites who maintain that only the Written Torah was revealed, and, in modern times, liberal movements such as Humanistic Judaism may be nontheistic. The Hebrews / Israelites were called (referred to) as Jews, already, as early as in the Book of Esther. The term Jews replaced the title “Children of Israel.”.

Judaism claims a historical continuity spanning more than 3000 years. It is one of the oldest monotheistic religions, and the oldest to survive into the present day. Its texts, traditions and values have inspired later Abrahamic religions, including Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i Faith. Many aspects of Judaism have also directly or indirectly influenced secular Western ethics and civil law.

Jews are an ethnoreligious group that includes those born Jewish and converts to Judaism. In 2007, the world Jewish population was estimated at 13 million, of whom about 40% reside in Israel and 40% in the United States. The largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism. A major source of difference between these groups is their approach to Jewish law. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin, they are eternal and unalterable, and should be adhered to. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism promoting a more “traditional” interpretation of its requirements than Reform Judaism. Their typical position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews. Historically, special courts enforced Jewish law; today, these courts still exist but the practice of Judaism is mostly voluntary. Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and the many rabbis and scholars who interpret these texts.             

                                                                                                    (Excerpt from Wikipedia)

What does the word hate mean to you? In the quest for a better understanding of the different religions of the world I’ve realized that haltered is nothing more than the sum of ignorance and fear and so if ever I find that I’m fearful of someone or something I will make a concerted effort to educate myself by whatever means necessary because I believe that one step away from ignorance is a giant leap towards love.


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