Judaism

What is Judaism

JudaismJudaism is considered to be one of the oldest religions in the world. The traditions and beliefs of Jews were recorded in the 8th century. Judaism is centered around the conviction that there is only one God. In the time of the creation of the religion, this was a minority view. However, this has changed over the years and monotheism is now dominant in the world. This is due to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

History

It is said that during the Roman Empire, 10 percent of the total population was of Jewish origin. Judaism first appears in Greek records, dating back to over 1500 BCE. While Judaism was founded in the Middle Eastern region, many Jewish populations have later moved to Europe. This was especially the case during the Roman Empire. During this time, many Jewish people were joined by traders when making their move out of the Middle East. Jewish populations moved to France, Germany as well as Spain. It is estimated that between 800 and 100, about 1.5 million Jews were living in Europe. During this time, Europe was predominantly Christian. It is for this reason that the Jewish population was not included as part of society. This implies that they did not have to perform heavy labor tasks or satisfy the military conscription. Instead, the Jewish population was protected by bishops and kings. They believed that Jews contributed to society in a different way compared to the Christian society. For example, they provides medical, administrative and financial services. However, when the Roman Catholic Church became more powerful as an institution, things changed for the Jews in Europe. In 1300, for example, local priests performed the play Passion during the Holy Week. During this play they depicted Jews as killing Jews, since this was the case according to the accounts of the Gospel. From this time onwards, Jews were persecuted and deported. It is for this reason that many Jews moved to Poland since they received relative security.

Beliefs

As a follower of Judaism, you believe that there is only one single God. He is not only the creator of the universe, but everyone is able to have a personal and individual relationship with Him. They also believe that God still has a great influence in the world and affects everything we do in our daily lives. In exchange for the deeds God has done for the universe and for you as an individual, Jewish people do something in return. For example, they do not only live according to the laws set by God, but they also aim to bring holiness into each aspect of their lives. Jews believe that God has chosen them to be an example of holiness for the rest of the world. This is also often claimed by rabbi’s. They emphasize the fact that God has appointed them to be the chosen ones setting an example of ethical behavior. Judaism is also considered to be a religion of a community since many activities are performed as part or with a community. For example, the Torah adopts the terms “we” and “our” instead of using “I” or “mine”, as is done in the prayer books of other faiths. Also, Jews also feel a special connection with the entire global community. Besides the fact that Judaism is a religion which performs activities in a community, it is also a family faith. Many Jewish customs, for example, revolve around the home. The Sabbath meal, for example, is a custom where Jewish families come together at home for the special day. Moreover, Jewish ceremonies start from a young age. This is clearly shown by the fact that a Jewish baby boy is circumcised when he is eight days old. This was one of the instructions given to the Prophet Abraham 4,000 years earlier.

Customs

One of the main customs of the Jewish religion are the dietary laws, which are also referred to as kashrut. Food which is prepared according to the Jewish dietary laws is called kosher. Food which is not prepared in line with these laws is named treifah or treif. Most of these dietary restrictions refer to animal-based products. In order for an animal to be considered to be kosher, it must have split hooves. Also, the animal should also chew their cud. A pig is probably the most well-known example of being a non-kosher animal. A pig is not only prohibited in Judaism, but is also not allowed in Islam. While some seafood is allowed in Judaism, there is also seafood which is prohibited. In order for seafood to be kosher, it must have scales and fins. Eels and shellfish are examples of fish which are not kosher. Regarding birds, the Torah mentions species which are allowed to be consumed and the ones which are not kosher. For example, turkey and chicken are allowed in most communities. Animals such as reptiles or amphibians are all considered to be non-kosher. Another requirement for meat to be kosher is that is should go through proper slaughtering practices. If an animal is not slaughtered according to these practices, the meat is considered to be treif. Jewish people are also not allowed to eat meat which still contains blood, certain fats or the meat around the sciatic nerve. Moreover, Jewish law also forbids eating dairy products and meat together. The period between eating meat and eating dairy products depends on the order in which the products are consumed.


Ethics

This paragraph will discuss both abortion and the use of contraceptives. Judaism does not prohibit abortion. However, is does not allow for abortion to happen on demand. Thus, abortion would only be permitted for serious reasons. It is recommended that before a Jewish woman decides for abortion, she should consult with a rabbi. He can give her on advice based on her personal circumstances and a woman should then act in live with the advice given by the rabbi. Orthodox Jews only allow abortion to take place when the life of the mother would be put in serious danger. Jewish law is more flexible regarding abortions in the first forty days of a pregnancy. This is due to the fact that an embryo is not considered to be a human being yet. Abortion which would protect the mental health of the mother are mostly prohibited. However, there are a few Jewish schools which allow for this to happen. Contraceptives are usually allowed in Judaism. Liberal schools of Judaism allow almost all contraceptives, while Orthodox Judaism is more strict regarding the use of contraception. The types of contraception which are allowed are those which do not damage the sperm. These include the contraceptive pill and the intrauterine device, also known as IUD. These are allowed because they also do not prevent sperm from reaching its intended destination. Condoms are considered to be unacceptable since they prevent the passage of semen. Also, it is said that it reduces the pleasure couples experience during sexual intercourse. The diaphragm is a contraceptive which causes much discussion. While some considered it forbidden since it blocks the passage of semen, while others say that semen still enters the female body.

The Torah

The Torah is known for being the first part of the Jewish Holy Book. The Torah are the first five books in the rabbinic literature as well as the Oral Torah. The Oral Torah are the interpretations of rabbinic traditions which are passed on from generation to generation, and are included in the Talmud. The Torah is the most important document in Judaism and has been used ever since Judaism existed. The Torah instructs its followers on how they should live their life according to God. The Torah are the first five books of Moses. They are called Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Jewish people believe that God dictated these books to the Prophet Moses. It is said that this happened fifty days after the had been released from slavery by the Egyptians. The Torah contains over 600 commandments. The ten which are best known and most important to the Jews are referred to as the ten statements. The Torah is written in the Hebrew language. Hebrew is considered to be one of the oldest Jewish languages. The Torah can also be referred to as the Torat Moshe. This means the Law of Moses, since it was written by the Prophet Moses. The term Torah does not have one definition in the English language. It can mean law, instruction and teaching. For Jewish people, the Torah provides and means all the terms mentioned. In synagogues, the Torah is read on the Sabbath. The Sabbath starts in the evening of a Friday until the evening of a Saturday.

Who is a Jew?

Someone is considered to be Jewish when he or she was born to a Jewish mother, or has converted to Judaism in line with Jewish Law. While this is believed by Rabbinic Judaism, Liberal Judaism accept someone to be Jewish when one of parents is Jewish and when the child is raised with a Jewish identity. All schools and forms of Judaism are now open to people who want to convert to Judaism. This is a rather new phenomenon, since conversion used to be discourages in the past. If someone wants to convert to Judaism, he or she needs to visit a higher authority. This authority then evaluates whether the individual is sincere about converting. The person is not only evaluated on their sincerity, but also evaluated on their knowledge. Judaism holds that once someone is born as a Jew, he will remain a Jew forever. This holds for both people who are a Jew by birth or who turned to Judaism by conversion. This implies that if a Jew wants to convert to another religion, he will still be considered to be a Jew according to the Jewish Law.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1471x
Added: 01-09-2016 20:16
Last modified: 28-09-2016 10:11

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