Post Reply Judaism
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Posted 2/28/08 , edited 4/12/08
The Jewish religion is one that sparks more controversy than any other religion. The mere word Jew has been used as a great term of endearment and also as a horrible curse. Opinions amongst the Islamic people, for example, are extremely varied. Some cite the surah as saying that the Jews are selfish and evil.

"Jews are the greediest of all humankind. They would like to live for 1,000 years but even that cannot save them from the fire."(2:96)

Others, however, debate that this quote is taken out of context (which, as I present it here, is.) and used to further individual zealotry. They believe that the Jews are a people to be respected and revered.

Perhaps one stem of this is that the term Jew doesn’t only refer to a religious denomination but also an ethnic group-one that has been subjected to more discrimination throughout history than any other race In truth it is unclear who exactly the people of the biblical narratives were. Some, however, accredit the word Hebrew to habiru, a term referring to a group of extremely low-class, poor, and homeless vagabonds. This would suggest that the “Israelite people” were actually born into struggle.

Whatever the case the Jewish religion is so intertwined with the history of this nomadic tribe that it may perhaps be necessary to discuss the history (briefly,) as well as the texts, beliefs, and culture of the Israelites in order to fully comprehend it. Thus, I will separate this essay into two sections. The first will discuss Jewish religion, and the second the development of that religion through Jewish history.

Judaism was once called an “evolving religious society.” Indeed it has gone through great transformations. This does not mean that it is necessarily departing from its roots, but rather that it is growing in the understanding of the message of the original manuscripts. There are many holy scriptures and literary cannons in the Jewish religion. These are the Tanakh, the Babylonian Talmud, and the Jerusalem Talmud. The former of the two Talmuds being the main source for Jewish study.

The Tanakh contains what modern Christians may identify as the “Old Testament.” It is composed of four sections. The Torah, the Writings, the (Major)Prophets, and the Twelve Minor Prophets-in the order they appear.

The Torah is considered the most important piece of divine literature available to the Jewish people. Most Jewish scholars agree that it was passed down to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Another name for the Torah is the Pentateuch which translates to, “Five books of Moses.” As the name suggests the Torah is separated into five holy books. These are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy-in the order they appear.

Modern Judaism revolves around rabbinic tradition, which was largely based off the workings of a pious sage called Hilel the Elder, who is quoted as saying, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the entire Torah; the rest is commentary; go and learn it.”

Essentially the Jewish tradition is to learn to apply the loving message of the Torah to your life according to contrasting circumstances and to learn the lore, history, and tradition recorded in the Tanakh. Early Rabbis imbued themselves with the knowledge of their divine cannon and scrutinized it in a study process called Midrash. Midrash yielded two more holly books as well as an unspoken teaching known as the Oral Torah.

Halakah was the first of the literary bodies engendered through Midrash. This was concerned with proper Jewish conduct. As Hillell put it “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.”

The latter literary work was the Haggadah. Haggadah is a record of the “commentary,” of the Torah. It teaches the history, traditions, social structure, heritage, mystical teachings, and sermons of the Jewish people.

The Oral Torah was said to have been passed down to Moses on Mt. Sinai along with the written Torah. It was carried through the generations on the edge of tongues, until the rabbis found it and induced it into Jewish study. It was not recorded until 200CE, when Judah the Prince completed the first edition of it. The recorder Oral Torah is called the Mishnah.

This text became the basic material for Jewish study. Midrash and the commentaries made on it by various Rabbis have all been incorporated into an organized an written into the Talmud, which also includes an account of Jewish law.

Both versions of the Talmud stress studying the Tanakh-especially the Torah. The earlier version of the Talmud was the Jerusalem Talmud, compiled about a hundred years before the Babylonian Talmud. However, it was not properly preserves. Because life in Jewish Babylonia was much less ambivalent than in Jerusalem the later version also developed better as both an encyclopedia of the Torah and as a compendium of Jewish law.

Even today ideas and theories are continuously added to the Talmud by educated and respected Rabbis. As a result the religion truly is evolving, but not loosing its roots. The Jewish religion has sparked much controversy for its failure to conform to more modernized standards of religion.

However, interpretations of the information presented in Jewish texts are continuously growing. The process of introducing these additions is called exegesis which translates to: analysis of texts: the explanation or interpretation of texts, especially from the Bible, or an explanation or interpretation of a particular text
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

One can see from this that the term doesn’t suggest in anyway simply throwing in new ideas according to political situation, but rather debating and discussing the meaning of what was originally presented.

The Hebrew Scriptures start with perhaps the most famous of all religious descriptions of creation. Genesis says that God spoke into the darkness and created the light, that he birthed everything in existence. God created the heavens and the earth, and separated the lands with the seas.

In this story the female sex is the offshoot of the male gender. Adam was the first man, and from his rib God created Eve that he may have some human company. Together these two lived in a paradisiacal Garden of Eden, innocent and oblivious to sin. They are presented as walking shamelessly about, oblivious to their nudity.

Eve, however, is eventually beguiled by the devil into eating a fruit forbidden by God. When she realizes what’s she has done she tempts Adam into following her example. Enraged by this God removes them from Eden. Some Jewish scholars, however, have a more optimistic view of paradise’s loss.

In this theory the Jews were removed from Eden to bring the world up to the quality of Eden by being good citizens and helping the imperfect world to fix the flaws of its condition.

In the Jewish religion there is only one true God. However, some scholars argue that because there are other God-like entities (perhaps borrowed from Zoroastrianism,) such as celestials, devils, and Demons, it is not a purely monotheistic religion.

The Jews, however, disagree. Their divine literature refers to God as the One True God. Despite being an individual the Jewish deity has many titles. The most famous of this, however, is also the least commonly spoken. This name is called the “Sacred Tetragrammaton.”

In the Jewish religion Yahweh made Human kind in his image. Human life is, as a result, considered the peak and pinnacle of creation, an image of God himself. (They do not take it to mean that God literally looks and has the shape/body of a Human.) All people are equal, but only potentially, and all reign from God through Adam and Eve.

Because of their great importance the Human race is capable of God like attributes such as righteousness, intelligence, love, and wisdom. As a result they have a great relationship and love with and from God. This relationship with God is describe with the feminine noun Shekhinah.

However, as a people given the mandate of raising the world and bringing utopia to everyone, and as Human beings-made in the image of God and able to hold a relationship with the divine-Jews are also subjected to great responsibilities. These come in the form of the law.

The law is composed of 613 commandments in both spiritual and ethical behavior. These commandments are called mitzvoth. The singular of this word is mitzvah. However, these are not considered a tax, but rather a gift of structure. The mitzvoth include not only the ten commandments made famous by Christian efforts, but also an organized legal system dealing with events of day-to-day life.

The Jews have contradicting opinions about the suffering of innocents and righteous. Some believe that only through suffering can our fear of God evolve to love for God. Others say that the suffering serves a greater good that is above our comprehension. Still others say that our trials will return to us with even greater rewards.

The Jews are still awaiting their Messiah. In fact, there’s an old (true,) story about the map of Jerusalem. An old prophecy predicted the Messiah would come through the eastern gate, and so a Jew-hating tyrant of Jerusalem bricked the gate up. The Jews responded by saying that their Messiah could walk through walls. The tyrant then had a cemetery constructed in front of the gate, for no respectable Jew would walk on graves. The Jews, however, were not hampered by his efforts. The messiah would simply step through the bricks and float over the cemetery. (The bricked wall and grave-sites can still be seen today.)

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Posted 3/12/08 , edited 3/13/08

Anti-Semitism has been the spawn of the world’s greatest slaughters. In 70 CE Titus marched on Jerusalem. His attack created a rift between Jews and gentiles, for he allowed the latter group to escape the city, but not the former. The Jews felt abandoned, and the gentiles blamed them for the inexorable loss and near obliteration of the city after months of siege. Only about 97,000 Jews survived the battle. Seventy thousand were sold into slavery, while the others were executed, imprisoned, and tortured.

Shortly afterwards Constantine established Christianity (in its Roman form,) as the state-religion. Almost instantly he and his clergymen began to teach the hatred of the Jews. They passed laws and restrictive edicts against the Jewish people. Constantine and his clergymen segregated Jews from the rest of the world, isolated them, and humiliated them. The Roman Catholic church passed laws that they must dress in a specific and shaming attire, regardless of sex. They were forced to wear “the mark of shame,” and weren’t allowed to dine in the presence of gentiles.

The anti-semantic sentiments spawned from here would be the source for hatred against the Jews for many generations. The Jewish people were considered subhuman, and when Christian hatred for Jews climaxed St. John Chrysostom (The Bishop with the Golden Mouth) released a series of documents and sermons against the Jews. These became classic study material for young Christians. The documents used “Christ Killers,” synonymous with Jew.

It became church continuity to harass Jews on the street, and every Easter a Jew was mobbed, dragged to the altar, and stricken across the face. This was an annual tradition. At one point a Jew was stricken so hard on this day that his eye ruptured and brain was crushed.

In 1096 CE the Crusades were launched, and in six-months up to a third of the Jewish population in Germany AND France was obliterated. Tens of thousands of Jewish men, women, and children were slaughtered by “The Knights of the Cross,” and more were subjected to Islamic harassment.

Jews survived the Crusades by paying massive sums of money, for many of them had become wealthy. Those who could not afford it either mercifully executed their families before committing suicide or were hacked apart by Crusaders. The Catholic Church promised all sins against Jews were immediately forgiven. Christians began to rape and rob Jews, to vandalize their property, destroy their homes, and force them into exile.

Godfrey’s Crusade was the first to hit Jerusalem. The city was separated into Muslim and Jewish territories, and the former was particularly more powerful. The Crusaders, then, attacked the Jews. The Crusaders slaughtered the Jews in the street. Desperately those who survived, roughly a thousand men, women, children, and elder locked themselves in a synagogue. Rather than march onto their targets the invaders paused to set the building ablaze, and let the denizens within burn to death. About the bonfire they marched singing a popular song entitled, “Christ We Adore Thee,” to muffle the screams.

In 1481 the Spanish Inquisition was launched. Jews survived by “converting,” to Roman Catholicism on the surface, and continuing their ways behind the scenes. Even those who converted were still the lowest members of society. They were literally called, “the pigs.” Countless Jews were tortured to death. Roughly 325,000 Jews were burnt alive, and an additional 20,000 were burned in effigy.

Christian and Muslim hatred for the Jews was not lessened by the Protestant reformations. Quite the contrary, it was greatly exacerbated. Martin Luther, famed for his 95 thesis against the Roman Catholic church, sought Jewish support in his religious movement. The Jews refused to involve themselves with Church matters, perhaps leery of Christianity.

St. Bartholomew’s day massacre was partially accredited to the Jews for their failure to support the reformation. On this holiday protestants were slaughtered in large number by the Catholic church, and their leaders were assassinated. Martin Luther became one of the world’s chief anti-Semitists. In fact, Hitler ordered the first large scale Nazi program to be held in honor of Martin Luther King, and launched it on the founder of Protestantism’s birthday.

Dean Inge (who is famed for his writings on neo-platonic philosophy,) wrote:

“The worst evil genius of Germany is not Hitler, or Bismark, or Frederick the Great, but Martin Luther.”

In his, "Concerning the Jews and their Lie" Martin Luther wrote:

First, their synagogues and churche should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians...their rabbis should be forbidden, under penalty of DEATH, to teach...let the young and strong given the flail, the them out of the country for all time...that you and we may all be free of this burden-the Jews

Martin Luther and the Catholic Church were the indirect founders of the Nazi movement. Hitler never passed a law against the Jews, he simply revived forgotten or fallen Church laws, and modified them to the political situation.

The Nazi movement had an entire third of the world’s Jewish population gassed to death with Zykon B, an insecticide. The process took nearly twenty minutes, and the Jews were previously stripped naked and packed into rooms. Reports show that the Jews were so tightly packed that bodies did not fall, but stood even after death. Other Jews were starved and tortured.

While Christianity spawned Anti-Semitism Pope John Paul II revolutionized the Roman Catholic Church, and Christianity has been moving in protection of the Israel nation. However, Islamic hatred for Jews has reached a climax and continues to grow rapidly. Experts say that about 15 or 20% of Muslims are extremists, willing to die in order to kill a Jew. While most Muslims do not conform to this political movement the Qur’an has been used, cited out of context, to motivate holly-war against the Jewish people by many extremists.

Many Muslims have spoken out against this movement, but their voices are often drowned in the bloody-thirsty screams of tyrants.

The Nazi, who were equivalent to were the first people to set a criteria for Human beings to meet before being considered human. (The second are those we call pro-choice, which isn‘t to say that abortion is the equivalent to the Nazi movements, but the Nazis did support it.) Jews as well as blacks, cripples, elderly, unborn children, ext were defined as less than human. They practiced aborting Jewish children, killing them before they took their first breath outside of the womb.

Jewish women in labor were placed in carts full of lepers and other sickly cripples. The instant the child was pushed out it was hurtled outside the cart window as it sped off to concentration camps and ghettos. The Nazis also used fetuses for their research programs, and in large portion the children they took were those of the Jewish mothers. Young Jewish boys and girls as well as men and women were also used for research.

Much of our modern medical science can be directly and indirectly acredited to them.

Hitler produces his book “Mein Kampf” to express his political struggle and his hatred for the Jews. It is still the best-selling article of literature in many Palestine regions and middle-eastern nations.

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Posted 4/21/08 , edited 4/22/08
wow interesting especially the bit about bits about martin Luther and "Mein Kampf" keep up the good work.
Posted 4/21/08 , edited 4/22/08
Need a section on Kabbalah. I bet nobody knew that it was the basis of the modern 52 card deck of playing cards.
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24 / F / USA
Posted 7/16/08 , edited 7/16/08
thanks for writing this i learned more about my religon
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28 / M
Posted 7/25/08 , edited 7/26/08

golda884 wrote:

thanks for writing this i learned more about my religon

You’re Jewish? Sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I’ve become slightly inactive. Anyway, if you’re Jewish then perhaps there’s something you might want to add?
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