JUDAISM: RELIGION OF THE JEWS
Unlike the other major religions, Judaism is the religion of only one people- the Jews. It was the first religion to teach the belief in one God.
Judaism presents a strange paradox. Although it gave birth to two religions, Christianity and Islam.
Though a Jew remains a Jew, even if he denies every tenet of Judaism (most Jews would make an exception of the one who becomes a Christian), no one can become a Jew except by formally accepting Judaism.
I. JUDAISM IT’S PAST.
Judaism is the Oldest Living religion; it had its start with Abraham 4000 years ago. Abraham was called by God out of the Ur of the Caldees. He is the first Hebrew because he crossed over into another country. God called Him to go to the land of Palestine. He was a believer in Jehovah.
Before the time of Abraham there were people who believed and worshiped Jehovah, Job, Noah, Adam etc. Abraham made a difference because God came to Abraham many times. God gave him many promises and made a covenant with him.
The grandfather or father was the family priest. This was continued until the time of Moses when God selected the tribe of Levi to be the priests.
WHAT MAKES THEM DISTINCT?
2. DIETARY LAWS
3. SABBATH REST.
These were the marks of a Jew.
The Law became very important to them. The Law was given to them from God.
613 Commandments 248 of them positive 365 negative
1. MORAL LAW EX. 20:1-
2. CIVIL LAW EX. 21- 23
3. CEREMONIAL LAW EX. 24:2-31:8
The law was good and was to guide them to God. All around people were Animistic and Spiritualistic. They were Polytheistic.
The Law was to keep them from these sins.
The change in Judaism. Over time instead of the Law guiding them to worship God. They began to worship the Law. The Law became their God.
By the Time of Jesus Judaism had become a false religion in many people’s minds.
Over the years, the rabbis had supposedly determined that, just as there were
613 SEPARATE LETTERS in the Hebrew text of the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, in the book of Numbers, there were also
613 SEPARATE LAWS IN THE PENTATEUCH, the five books of Moses.
Such literalism, as it is sometimes called, was extremely popular and was considered to be a valuable exegetical tool for interpreting Scripture.
The rabbis had divided those 613 LAWS into AFFIRMATIVE AND NEGATIVE GROUPS, holding that there were 248 AFFIRMATIVE LAWS, one for every part of the human body, as they supposed, and 365 NEGATIVE LAWS, one for each day of the year.
The laws were also divided into HEAVY and LIGHT, the heavy ones being absolutely binding and the light ones less binding.
There had never been unanimity, however, as to which laws were heavy and which were light, and the rabbis and scribes spent countless hours proudly debating the merits of their particular divisions and the ranking of laws within the divisions.
A. IMPORTANT BOOKS
1. TORAH = PENTETUCH 5 BOOKS OF MOSES
2. BOOKS OF HISTORY. 12 BOOKS
3. BOOKS OF PROPHETS. 12 BOOKS
B. THE TALMUD - is a collection of legal and ethical writings, as well as Jewish history and folklore.
It serves primarily as a guide to the civil and religious laws of Judaism. Orthodox Jews believe the laws in the Talmud were given to Moses by God and passed down orally from generation to generation. About A.D. 200, scholars wrote down these oral laws in a work called the:
C. MISHNAH = Oral law
D. GEMARA ARE
= Longer commentary on it the Mishnah which were written between 200 and 500.
The Mishnah and Gemara together make up the Talmud.
The rabbis (RABBI is a title of respect given to an expert in the Torah; he is neither a priest, nor a preacher, though in the modern synagogue he often performs the function of a preacher.) then surrounded these commandments with a "Hedge," that is subsidiary commandments, the keeping of which would guarantee the keeping of the original commandment.
TWO FORMS OF LAW.
1. ORAL LAW, the traditions of the elders - Jesus refer to this a number of times in the Gospels.
2. The WRITTEN LAW - 39 books of the O.T.
The Oral law began to become more authoritative than the Written law.
The TALMUD, which is the repository of Jewish tradition, teaches that God gave the oral law to Moses and then told Moses to pass it on to great men of Israel. These men were then to do three things with the law they had received.
1) First, they were to deliberate on it and properly apply it.
2) Second, they were to train disciples in order that the next generation would have teachers of the law.
3) Third, they were to build a wall around the law in order to protect it.
Because their hearts were not right with God, the rabbis' wall-building "protection" of His law actually undermined and contradicted it. Their purpose was not to lead the people to worship and serve God from pure hearts made clean by Him, but to worship and serve Him by human means and from unchanged hearts. To provide the means for superficially keeping God's commandments, regulation after regulation and ceremony after ceremony were added, until God's own Word was utterly hidden behind the wall of tradition. Instead of protecting. God's Word, the tradition obscured and perverted it.
Under the leadership of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai and his successors the oral law was developed by analogy to cover every circumstance of life, even when the written law did not deal with it. The concept was entirely reasonable, once one granted that the purpose of the Torah was to control the whole of life.
By A.D. 200 the rabbis had persuaded, crushed, or driven out all in Jewry who disagreed, and had formulated the oral law in the MISHNAH.
The MISHNAH with the much longer commentary on it, the GEMARA, completed about A.D. 500 forms the TALMUD which, for an orthodox Jew, shares in the authority of the O.T. for it is the authoritative expression of what the Torah demands. It goes without saying that the Talmud has had to be adapted to meet the changing circumstances of later centuries, but every rule which the Orthodox consider binding goes back in principle to the Talmud.
Though from the middle of the ninth century Greek philosophy brought a rationalistic strain into Judaism which it has never lost, at the earlier date all such speculation was deeply distrusted (the memory of Philo of Alexandria would have been lost, if his works had not been copied by Christian scribes); in addition there was every effort to make it impossible for a Jew to become a Christian. As a result there is very little real theology in Judaism, and the Torah was exalted until it occupied a place almost as high as JESUS CHRIST does in Christianity.
II. THE 13 ARTICLES OF FAITH
The Shemah has remained as the foundation cornerstone of Judaism.
A Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria, who lived in the first century A.D. (20 B.C.-50 A.D.) Compressed the basic beliefs of Judaism into five fundamental concepts:
1. The belief in God.
2. The belief that there is only One God.
3. The belief that God created the world; but the world is not eternal.
4. The belief that there is only One universe.
5. The belief that God cares for the world and all its creatures.
Maimodides reduced Judaism to 13 Articles of Faith. Though not officially adopted, this Credo was incorporated into the Daily Prayer book. The Credo reads:
1. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, is the Creator and guide of everything that has been created, and He alone has made, does make and will make all things.
2. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, is One, and that there is no unity in any manner like unto His, and that He alone is our God, who was, and is, and will be.
3. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, is not a body, and that He is free from all the properties of matter, and that He has not any form whatever.
4. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, is the first and the last.
5. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, and to Him alone, it is right to pray, and that it is not right to pray to any being besides Him.
6. I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.
7. I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses, our teacher, peace be unto him, was true, and that he was the chief of the prophets, both of those who preceded and of those who followed him.
8. I believe with perfect faith that the whole Torah, now in our possession, is the same that was given to Moses, our teacher, peace be unto him.
9. I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be changed, and that there will never be any other Law from the Creator, blessed be His name.
10. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, knows every deed of the children of men, and all their thoughts, as it is said. It is he that fashioned the hearts of them all, that gives heed to all their works.
11. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, rewards those that keep His commandments and punishes those that transgress them.
12. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and, though he tarry, I will wait daily for his coming.
13. I believe with perfect faith that there will be a revival of the dead at the time when it shall please the Creator, blessed be His Name, and exalted be His Frame for ever and ever.
CENTER OF WORSHIP
The Center of Worship was the Temple.
Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.
The sacrificial system of offerings.
The temple was destroyed.
Many believe that it was during the 400 years of Silence that the Synagogue system emerged.
There was no sacrifice.
1. There was singing
2. There was reading of Scripture
3. There was a Sermon.
The Synagogue was the Schoolhouse of the community.
Children went their to learn and on the Sabbath to worship.
In the N.T. Jesus went every Sabbath to the Synagogue. The Synagogue was the community and culture center.
Today there are 4 main divisions of Judaism:
2. Conservative and
Each of these divisions is not a denomination, but a classification according to cultural and doctrinal formulas. Within each branch of Judaism, there are varying degrees of observance, and many Jews do not fall strictly into any one category or another.
SEE HAND OUT
1. REFORM [LIBERAL or "Progressive Judaism"]
2. CONSERVATIVE ["Historical Judaism"]
3. ORTHODOX ["Torah Judaism"]
4. HADASSID Judaism
MAJOR ELEMENTS OF A TEMPLE
The rules for any synagogue or temple building are few: There shall be an ark (preferably in the eastern wall, facing Jerusalem). There should be a "bimah", a platform from which the Torah is read, and also some windows to let the light in. The building should not be flamboyant.
1. THE ARK
The Talmud refers to it as Teva (a box or chest) and it use to be portable. The first ark, built by the Israelites in the desert was portable. The original ark has a curtain hung in front, so some temples have it today. The two tablets, represent the Ten Commandments, are placed above the ark. The Hebrew name for the ark is Aron. The ark contains the Torah (the first five books of Moses) in a scroll form.
2. ETERNAL LIGHT
The tabernacle in the wilderness had a menorah, which was always lit "to cause a lamp to burn continually" (Exodus 27:20-21). OThe menorah did not burn continually, but was lit every evening. Scholars have noted that there are no references to the eternal light in the synagogue before the 10th century. However, today every Jewish place of worship contains one, and it symbolizes God's guiding light and protection, and the light of the Torah, which the Jewish people most always keep burning brightly.
3. THE BIMAH
The bimah is the elevated platform from which the Torah is read. Maimonides stated that the bimah should be in the middle of the synagogue; however, Reform synagogues have it at the end of the building, next to the ark. Sermons are preached from the bimah, and the cantor is standing on it too.
IN EVERY SYNAGOGUE ONE MIGHT FIND THE FOLLOWING SYMBOLS:
1. THE MENORAH -O from ancient times is a symbol of Jewish peoplehood. A statue depicting the menorah is found in the Arc of Titus in the forum of Rome, Italy the emblem of the state of Israel contains a menorah and two olive branches.
2. STAR OF DAVID - A A magen David is very recent as a Jewish symbol. It enjoys no sanctity and is not treated as a religious object. Franz Rosezweig suggested that the two interlocked triangles, one pointed upward, and the other downward, represents humanity reaching out to God and God's grace coming down in response. (Why Triangle = trinity. 1 pointing up to God, Priest 1 pointing down to man, Prophet.)
3. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS -P are symbolized here by the first two Hebrew words of each. Hebrew is read from right to left, so the first one is at the upper right.
Two Tablets = Duplicate. Because of the covenant, Each party would receive a copy.
IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN THE SYNAGOGUE
The rabbi's main riles are: teaching the Torah, deciding on questions of Jewish law, pastoring and visiting congregants, advising and preaching.
The cantor leads the congregation in prayer. Originally the cantor was more like an administrator or a person set by the congregation to speak to God on their behalf.
IMPORTANT ISSUES TO JEWISH PEOPLE
1. MEANING IN MORALITY
Human beings are social creatures. Without other people they fail to become human; yet with other people they often act barbarically. The need for morality stems from this double fact. Nobody like rules any more than they like stop lights, but without constraints, human relations would become as snarled as traffic jams. The Jews compiled their law to stipulate the constraints they thought life requires. Rabbinic Law contains 613 commandments.
The four ethical precepts of the Ten Commandments, were enacted to control the four principal danger zones in human relationships, which are force, wealth, sex, and speech.
What the Ten Commandments prescribe in these areas are the minimum standards that make collective life possible. Regarding force they say tin effect; you can bicker and fight, but killing within the in-group will not be tolerated, for it instigates blood feuds that rip the community apart. "THOU SHALT NOT MURDER."
Similarly with sex. You can be flirtatious, even promiscuous, and though we may not approve, we will not take action unless the parties are married. Then we will step in for infidelities there rouse passions the community can't stand. "THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULATORY."
As for possessions, you may make your pile as large as you please and be shrewd and cunning in the enterprise, but direct pilfering off someone else's pile is taboo; for this violates the sense of fair play and generates animosities that get out of hand. "THOU SHALT NOT STEAL."
Finally, regarding the spoken word you may dissemble and equivocate, but there is one time when we require that you tell the truth. If a dispute reaches such proportions as to be brought before a tribunal, its judges must know what happened. If you lie then, while under oath, the penalty will be severe. "THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS."
The importance of the Ten Commandments in their ethical dimensions lies not in their uniqueness but in their universality. They do not speak the final word on the topics they address. They speak the words that must be spoken if other words are to follow.
2. MEANING IN JUSTICE
It is to a remarkable group of men whom we call the Prophets more than to any others that Western civilization owes its convictions:
1. That individuals are responsible not only for their face-to-face dealings, but for the social structures of their society; and
2. That the future of any people depends in large part on the justice of its social order.
3. MEANING IN SUFFERING
From the eighth to the sixth centuries B.C. during which Israel and Judah tottered before the aggressive power of Syria, Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon, the prophets found meaning in their predicament by seeing God as serious in demanding that the Jews be just. 'BECAUSE THEY SELL THE RIGHTEOUS FOR SILVER, AND THE NEEDY FOR A PAIR OF SANDALS, YOUR STRONGHOLDS SHALL BE PLUNDERED" (AMOS)
To see things this way required moral energy, for it would have been easier to give up in defeat or assume that God would stage a last minute rescue.
4. MEANING IN MESSIANISM
Though the Jews were able to find their suffering meaningful, meaning climaxed for them in Messianism. We can work our way into this concept by way of a striking fact. Historical progress in is a Western idea-other peoples have now assimilated it, but it originated in the West.
Jews personified their hope in the figure of a coming Messiah, or Chosen One. During the Babylonian Exile they looked to the Messiah to effect the "ingathering of the exiles" to their native homeland. After the second destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. the Messiah was expected to reverse the dispora that ensured.