Judaism צץפִן ؤ ֲ The People of the Book סֻ ب םל ө ֱ إئ
Let My People Go! It is I, Moses! I am here to tell you About Judaism. But first, some Business…. Ahem… So where can we begin…
In the beginning…
God gave the Creation stories, aka, Genesis, via divine inspiration to Moses. His writings become the Penateuch, the first five books of the Bible, also called the Torah (it contains 613 laws).
His call for a monotheism is completely new to the enslaved Hebrews…
It probably took longer than his lifetime for it to be accepted and developed because of how radical it was (they probably thought Yahweh was simply the most powerful, but not the only).
It would be good for you to know that I’m the most important person in Judaism.
Era of Monarchy
1004 – 928 BCE – The time of David and Solomon – Rulers of a United Israel. After the defeat of the Philistine Tribe, Israel enjoys a period of prosperity.
David referred to as the prototype of the Messiah (Christians went to special lengths to bring Jesus’ lineage to David). His tomb in Jerusalem is a sacred Pilgrimage site.
Solomon builds the magnificent first temple of Jerusalem, which will last 500 years.
Kingdom divides into “Judah” and “Israel” after Solomon’s reign. “Judaism” comes from the name “Judah.”
The Mouthpieces of the Lord…
Seek to keep Israel’s leaders and peoples constantly cognizant of the Covenant with Yahweh.
Often receive much persecution, whether in the form of disbelief or ridicule
Are partly how Judaism forms its beliefs until the Babylonian Exile.
Types of Judaism:
Classical – Begins with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem (both in 70 CE and 135 CE). Jewish people are scattered in the Diaspora (Dispersion).
It is in this period that the Bible as it is currently was put together, to insure that Jews everywhere knew how to practice their religion.
This period is also marked with a hope for the return to the homeland (partly based on the experience of returning after the Babylonian Exile).
Realization the Return to Homeland may not be coming…Jews living under Christians and Muslims (Muslim rulers more tolerable than Christians)
Christians couldn’t be moneylenders (usurers) so Jews held that role and were resented for it. Christians also blamed Jews for the Bubonic Plague and subjected them to the Inquisition in Spain.
Many fled from Western to Eastern Europe because of persecution.
Jewish culture remained intact, and led to the intellectual combination of Arab, Jewish, and Greek thought, which culminated in academics like Maimonides.
Moses ben Maimon (1135-1204 CE)
Greatest Figure in the Spanish School of Hebrew Theology – Author of Guide to the Perplexed. Brings Aristotle to Jewish Theology.
“ The World Depends on God’s Will.”
Experience of the Prophets not an interruption of regular life, but possible for anyone sufficiently perceptive.
Famous for his 13 Articles of Judaism.
The Thirteen Articles, by Maimonides
A Short Creed of Judaism:
Existence of the Creator
The Necessity of Worshipping Him alone
The Truth of the Words of the Prophet
The Superiority of Moses to all Prophets
The revelation of the Law to Moses at Sinai
The immutability of the Law
The Omniscience of God
Retribution in this world and the next
The coming of the Messiah
The resurrection of the dead.
Note: This is what Jews believe…
Jewish Mysticism…akin to Muslim Sufism
Main work is called the Zohar (“Splendor”)
Unlike Sufis, these mystics continue to practice all elements of Jewish life. The Law needed to be enacted along with a mystical element.
God is called “En Sof” – from which 10 ideal qualities emanate, including wisdom, patience, mercy and justice.
They celebrate meekness and love, and glorify poverty.
Judaism in Modernity…
Modern Judaism has branched into three primary categories (this is most particular in the United States:
Reform -- a result of the Enlightenment, sought to purge Judaism of its ancient leanings, simplifying rituals and using science as a guide. Move beyond the reliance on the Talmud and History.
Orthodox -- Reject abandoning tradition in order to stay true to God and the struggle of the Jewish people.
Conservative -- a synthesis of the previous two that added emphasis on rituals and ethics, preserving community and revelation while not necessarily believing in a transcendent God.
“ Zion” – Another term for the eternal city of Jerusalem (you may remember it in “The Matrix”).
In wake of multiple persecutions up until the late 1890’s, Jewish leaders, most prominently Theodore Herzl, advocate for a National Jewish Homeland (so they can avoid future persecutions).
Original thought was that they would acquire land privately (financially) from the Arabs ruling Palestine (and actually do, setting up a Kibbutz in Northern Palestine in 1907).
Development of Zionism…
Herzl says that a Homeland would be a blessing to the rest of the world, and the world would be “liberated through our freedom.”
First Zionist Congress meets in 1897
Within twenty years popular support for a Jewish homeland gains enough ground that Great Britain (at that time “THE” world power, agrees to facilitate the process. (Remember that Britain had a League of Nations mandate over the Middle East).
But there were arguments… We Orthodox Jews feel a Homeland is trying to force the hand of God While Reformed Jews feel that a Homeland is more Nationalistic than Religious Within Judaism…
And outside of Judaism… Yes, it was tricky with we Palestinians, who would have to move from our homes for this Jewish homeland. We Brits lost our UN Mandate in Palestine because we tried to stop immigration to protect the Arab population. Even US President Harry Truman was very hard-pressed to recognize the State of Israel. However…
The Holocaust helps the cause…
As 6 million Jews are exterminated by the Nazis, international sympathy goes out to the Jewish people, and the state of Israel is declared on May 14, 1948.
While mired in controversy, the State of Israel has maintained their sovereignty as a Jewish nation in the Middle East.
They have had to repel invasions in 1948 (only days after declaring their independence), 1956, 1967, and 1973. Each time they lost tremendous numbers of people defending their borders.
The issue of a Jewish state, especially considering the Palestinians still living within its borders, is still topic for heated debate.
However, to an extent, the dreams of people like Herzl were realized in 1948 and since.