Judaism Essay, Research Paper
Jewish history began about 4000 years ago in the part of the world that today we call the Middle East. No one person ever began Judaism. The beliefs that became the Jewish faith came about gradually. However, some people were important in making it happen. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, known as the patriarchs are both the physical and spiritual ancestors of Judaism. They founded the religion known as Judaism and their descendants are the Jewish people. According to the Jewish tradition, Abraham was the first to believe there was only one God and left his home to go on a journey because he believe that was what God wanted him to do. He began to teach his beliefs to others. God promised Abraham that one day his descendants would posses a country called Canaan, which came to be known as the promise Land.
Judaism has no dogma, no formal set of beliefs that one must hold on to be a Jew. In Judaism, actions are far more important than beliefs, although there is certainly a place for belief within Judaism. Jews believe that there is only one God, who is external. He is always present everywhere and he knows everything . He made everything, including the world and everything in it. He cares about everything that he made and listen when people pray to him. The believe prayer is to be directed to God alone and to no other, when Jews pray to God they call him Adonai, this means Lord. Jews think that God s name is very important, so they use it with great respect. They never use it carelessly. Jewish believes the words of prophets are true and that Moses prophecies are, and Moses was the greatest of the Prophet. They believe the written Torah and Oral Torah were given to Moses and there will be no other Torah. They believe in the return of the Messiah and that the dead will be resurrected. Unlike many other religions, Judaism does not Focus much on abstract cosmological concepts. Although Jews have certainly considered nature of God, man, the universe, life and the afterlife at great length, there is no mandated, official, definitive belief on these subjects, outside of the very general concept discussed above. There is substantial room for personal opinion on these matters.
Observant Jews pray in formal worship services three times a day, everyday; at evening (ma riv) in the morning (shacharit), and in the afternoon (minchah). Daily prayers are collected in a book called a Siddur, which derives from the Hebrew root meaning order because the siddur shows the order of prayers. A Synagogue is the buildings were Jews go to worship God. For the Jews, worship means praying to God, thanking him for the things he has done and asking for his help in their life. They believe that worshiping God is very important. Every Sabbath, the Jewish holy day, many Jews go to the Synagogue because it is a special place to worship God. A synagogue service includes readings from the scriptures, prayers, and singing of Psalms. Usually there is a sermon. Some synagogue services include readings from the Torah; the books of teaching that are written on scrolls. The scrolls are carried carefully from the Ark to the Bimah to be read, and back again after the reading is finished. At services in the synagogue, men wear a Kippah. It is a skullcap, which is beautifully embroidered. It is worn as a sign of respect for God. At morning services, they also wear a tallit. A tallit is a prayer robe, usually made of silk or wool.
The Concept of Salvation from sin as it is understood in Christianity has no equivalent in Judaism. Salvation from sin is unnecessary in Judaism because Judaism does not belief that mankind is inherently evil or sinful or in need of Divine Intervention in order to escape external damnation. In fact, Judaism does not even believe in external damnation. When the Torah speaks of God as our Redeemer, it is not speaking of salvation or redemption from sin; rather it speaks of salvation from the very concrete day-to-day problems that we face, such as redemption from slavery in Egypt or salvation from out enemy in war.
Traditionally, Judaism firmly believes that death is not the end of human existence. However, because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and rather than on afterlife, Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife. Some scholars claim that belief in the afterlife is a teaching that developed late in the Jewish history. It is true that the Torah emphasizes immediate, concrete physical rewards, and punishment rather than abstract future ones. However, there is clear evidence in the Torah of belief in existence after death. The Torah indicates in several places that the righteous will be reunited with their loved ones after death, while the wicked will be excluded from this reunion. This spiritual afterlife is referred to in Hebrew as Olan-Ha-Ba, the world to come, although this term is also used to refer to the Messianic age. The Olam-ha-ba is another higher state of being.
Judaism has many kinds of celebration and holidays the observe which include; The Month of Tishri, Rosh Hashanah, Days of Awe, Yom Kippur, Sukkoth, Simhart Torah, Hanukkah, Tu b Sherat, Purim, Passover, The counting of Omer, Shavu ot, Tisha B Av, Minor Fast and Hanukkah. One of the important days at the time of The Jewish year is Rosh Hashanah. It reminds the Jews how God made the world. It is also the beginning of the solemn time of the year. This lasts for ten days, which are called the Days of Awe. In these ten days, Jews think about their past actions and sought for forgiveness for any wrong doing. Yom Kippur comes at the end of the days of awe. It is the Day of Atonement, which is the most solemn day of the year. At Yom Kippur, Jews fast for 25 hours. As well as praying for forgiveness, Yom Kippur is da day for remembering how kind God is and how much he loves them.
The Feast of Tabernacles is the next major festival of the Jewish year. In Hebrew it is called Sukkoth. The festival lasts a week. It celebrates two thing; It recalls how the Jews in old days used to take offerings of fruit to the temple. Secondly, it recalls how the Jews were once traveling in the desert and lived-in tabernacles. The most important part of Sukkoth is the roof. This is a reminder of the time in Jewish history when Jews were traveling in the desert with no real home. The day after the end of the feast of tabernacles is called Simhat Torah. This means rejoicing in the Torah. It marks the yearly reading of The Torah and is a day for spirited rejoicing. The scrolls are carried in procession around the synagogue, while all Jews people, including the learned and pious, join in with singing and dancing.
Hanukkah is a winter festival. It usually falls in December, and it lasts for eight days. It is sometimes called the festival of lights. Hanukkah reminds the Jews of events that happened over two thousand years ago. When they celebrate the festival today, Jews use a special branched candlestick in their homes. It is called a Hanukkiah. Purim, the festival that comes after Hanukkah is a very exciting festival, especially for Children. It takes place in February and March. Purim tells the story of a good Queen and a bad man. It is called the book of Esther. The story is in the Jewish scriptures and in the bible.
Passover is perhaps the most popular Jewish festival. It celebrates something that happened 3000 years ago. Passover reminds the Jews of three things; 1. God is good-he helped his people, 2. Death Passover the house of the Jew, 3.The Jew passed through the sea of Reeds when they were leaving Egypt. Sha vout, the feast of Pentecost is held seven weeks after the feast of Passover. It celebrates Jews beliefs that God gave the Ten Commandment to Moses.
The main groups of Jews in the world today are Orthodox, Reform and conservatives Jews. All followers of all religions are individuals and of course they do not all have the same ideas about their beliefs. Followers of all Judaism share belief in its basic teaching, but different groups of Jews do not agree about parts of the religion and about how they should live their lives. Orthodox Jews believe that traditional ways of observing their religion are important. They keep the traditional laws of Judaism more strictly than other Jews. Reform Judaism which is about 200 years old believes that Judaism can change to fit different circumstances. Conservatives Judaism was founded in the late 19th century as middle ground between Orthodoxy and Reforms.
In Spite of the many differences between Jews they are still united by their common past. Over thousand of years, they have shared a sense of destiny too. The principle of Klah Yisrael – the unity of Jewish people is an important reminder that Judaism is more than a religion. Judaism is a culture and tradition linking millions of Jews worldwide.