We explain what Judaism is, how it originated and the holy books it uses. Also, what are its characteristics, currents and more.
What is Judaism?
Judaism is the oldest of the three great monotheistic (Abrahamic) religions born in the Middle East , along with Christianity and Islam .
In addition, it is a set of traditions, representations and ritual practices belonging to the Jewish people . Jewish tradition and culture dates back to antiquity , and encompasses a fairly heterogeneous set of practices, traditions and attitudes towards the religious fact.
This is largely due to the diaspora that the Jewish people have experienced since ancient times , since they have been rejected and even persecuted by other nations, making them a kind of wandering people.
Judaism today gathers believers and practitioners to a greater or lesser degree throughout almost the entire planet , especially in the United States (6.5 million) and Israel (5.9 million).
Worldwide, there are approximately 14.3 million Jews in their various branches . Many of them keep Jewish languages alive, such as Hebrew and Yiddish, among other hybrid languages.
Origin of Judaism
Moses was the one who freed the people of Israel and led them back to the Promised Land.
Judaism traces its origins to biblical antiquity , specifically to the life of Abraham, a nomadic herdsman from Ur, in ancient Mesopotamia .
Abraham received a call from God himself to found his homeland in Canaan , between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
Their descendants, driven by hunger to migrate to the regions of the Nile , were subjected to slavery by the Pharaohs.
However, Moses freed them and guided them back to their Promised Land . Subsequently, God gave Moses, in stone, the ten commandments, thus giving rise to the Jewish doctrine.
How was Judaism founded?
Judaism does not have a recognized founder , although the tradition goes back to the first Hebrew, Abraham, the same patriarch of the Christian and Islamic creeds.
In its early days, the Jewish people called themselves Hebrew (“who came from elsewhere”) or Israeli, since their first established kingdom bore the name of Israel (“who has struggled with God”).
The term “Jew” appeared much later , as a result of the division of the kingdom into two: Israel and Judea or Judah.
history of judaism
The territory of Israel was divided into twelve Hebrew tribes.
The history of the Jewish people and their religion is told in the Old Testament of the Bible .
It begins with the exodus to Egypt , slavery , the recovery of freedom and the return to Canaan.
At the time of the founding of the kingdom of Israel, its territory was divided among the twelve Hebrew tribes : Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Zebulun, Issachar, Gad, Ephraim, Dan, Benjamin, Reuben, Judah, and Simeon.
This Hebrew kingdom was called Israel and was ruled by numerous biblical kings , until its division into two distinct territories (Judah and Israel). It was then dominated by various Asian empires: the Assyrians, the Babylonians , the Persians , and finally the Greeks around 170 BC. c.
The kingdom was recovered thanks to a revolt of Judas El Macabeo , to later pass to the administration of the Roman Empire .
At this time in history, Christianity was born as a continuation of the Jewish religion. However, later it took its own form and its own creed.
Eventually becoming the religion of the Empire and unleashing a centuries-long persecution against the Jewish people , accusing them of being the traitors of Jesus Christ .
By then, the Jews had already been sold into slavery by the Romans throughout the Empire. This was called “the diaspora”, which was the beginning of the dissemination of the Hebrew people in the world.
The Torah is equivalent to the first five books of the Christian Bible.
The Jewish faith has several holy books:
- The Tanaj. Equivalent to the Old Testament of the Christian Bible , made up of 39 different books:
- The Torah or Pentateuch, divinely inspired and equivalent to the first five books of the Christian Bible.
- The Neviim or the Book of the Prophets.
- The Ketuvim or “The writings”.
- The Mishnah. Supposedly given to Moses himself by God on Mount Sinai, and containing a collection of oral traditions and stories from the Torah.
- The Talmud or Gemara. A voluminous corpus of post-Mishnah annotations, as well as some later ones, from the religious corpus.
- The Zohar. The central book of the Hebrew Kabbalah, written by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
What are your beliefs?
The pact between the Jews and God is expressed through their initiation rites.
The beliefs of Judaism are those described by the Old Testament of the Bible . There, the formulation of the cult, of the laws and of the very society of the Hebrews is described, under the rigorous tutelage of their God, whose 10 commandments make up the code of ethics of the Jewish people.
According to these beliefs, the Israeli people, defined not so much by their place of birth but by their adherence to the true faith, would be the chosen ones of God , who promised them the Promised Land for their flourishing.
This territory is considered “Holy Land” by the Jews, and the rest of the world is simply “diaspora”.
The pact between the Jews and God is expressed through their initiation rites , especially circumcision, and attention to their food prohibitions (pork, non-kosher meats) and social duties (according to the Hebrew calendar).
The sacred and liturgical language of the Jews is Hebrew, a language that was considered dead for centuries and was recovered in modern times. Today it is the official language of the state of Israel.
god of judaism
The god of the Jews has no name, or rather, he has a name that cannot and should not be pronounced .
That is why it is called Yahveh or Yahvé , coming from the ancient Hebrew writing (which wrote down only the consonants) and from the tetragrammaton “YHWH” or “JHWH” (from the Phoenician alphabet), whose approximate pronunciation would be that.
That’s also where the name Jehovah comes from , which Christianity uses. This Jewish name of God has no translation or meaning, but it would imply the meaning of eternity.
What is the doctrine of Judaism?
Judaism can be interpreted as a source of religious ethics.
The doctrine of Judaism is contained in the Torah , which is its fundamental text of law and identity heritage. In this book, the total revelation of Yahweh to the Israeli people is told, and therefore it operates as a container of a sacred law.
It offers four different levels of interpretation:
- Literal. As individual code.
- Allegorical. As a teaching tool.
- Interpretative. As a source of a religious ethic .
- Mystical. The search for a hidden meaning.
The Torah is used as a ritual book, liturgical or decorative object, and Jewish study material.
Differences between Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Unlike its other two sister religions, Judaism continues to await the revelation of the messiah , the son of God who will come to the world to reveal his truths to humanity and subject us all to judgment.
Christianity, for its part, understands that Jesus of Nazareth was that messiah , and therefore awaits his second return. Christianity therefore understands the New Testament as the renewal of the pact of the ancient Jewish people with God, and reads both books in a set called the Bible .
Islam also understands Muhammad (Muhammad) as the last messenger of Allah, the name by which they call the very god of Abraham. Jesus of Nazareth, called “Isa” for Muslims, would be just another prophet like Adam, Noah, Abraham or Moses.
Its sacred text is the Koran (Qrán), dictated to Mohammed by the Archangel Gabriel ( Jibril ).
Currents of Judaism
Reform Judaism is a progressive and less dogmatic side.
Judaism comprises various branches, such as:
- ultra-orthodox. Called Haredi (“those who tremble before God”), he is particularly devout and far from Zionism. It includes the slopes of Hasidism and Mitnagdism.
- Reformist. Of Ashkenazi origin ( Central or Eastern Europe ), it is a progressive and less dogmatic side, much more modern.
- Orthodox. It strictly adheres to religious rules ( Halachah ) and lacks a single central direction, thus allowing some room for variation. It is, precisely, a conservative reaction against the reformism born in the 19th century.
- Conservative. Also called masorti or traditionalist. It is the American fruit of the union of Reform and Orthodox. They undertake more modern interpretations of Jewish law, understanding the Jewish people as a nation.
- Secular. Here would be all the Jews by blood or family belonging, but who do not practice the Jewish laws. They would be the atheist Jews.
This is an international political movement that advocated the re-creation of the nation of Israel, the ancestral home of the Jewish people.
He was one of the strongest promoters of the founding of the modern State of Israel . This goal was achieved at the end of World War II in 1948.
It is described as a “ diaspora nationalism ” and is attributed radical positions of Jewish self-determination that often put them in conflict with their Arab neighbors. This is reflected in the complex and endless Arab-Israeli conflict.
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