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What is it?

Simply as a religion is too narrow.

It is:

A people (ethnic component)

A land (Judah) Tribal lines as a division

Monarchy as sign of unity and Judaism as a nation

A culture (2


BCE in Hellenistic Age)

Judah as Kingdom is the root of term of Judaism

Used first in 2nd


used to differentiate these people from Hellenists

A religion that has developed and changed over time

Shared collective memory and history is an essential element of Judaism to be studied and relived through ritual. Present and past continually coming together



The period of the Bible (The most central)

The formation of a people

Patriarch Abraham: his faith, his steadfast acceptance of God in the face of suffering; a land and covenant signed by circumcision

Bondage and Exodus from Egypt

Moses leading them out of Egypt. Transition from a family to a nation of people. They were in Egypt for hundreds of years.

Wandering in the Desert and The Torah

Giving by God of the complete system of laws: Decalogue; the covenant code and the holiness code.

Entering the Land and Becoming a Nation

Take the land led by Joshua promised to Abraham, formation of a monarchy. David emerges as sign of unity and the promise of a messiah in his line. David moved capital to Jerusalem and Solomon built the Temple that became only place to worship God.

Exile and the destruction of the Temple (twice)

Formative stage ends with a hope of restoration. Hebrew Bible ends its story here.


Emergence of Rabbinic Judaism

Sage and wise men begin to emerge who are the forerunners of the Rabbi

Emergence of a


of Jewish people spread throughout the world

Without a Temple then how would the religion survive

Rabbinic literature – These were scholars who wrote a tremendous amount of literature.

New forms of prayer

Adapting Bible to new reality

Challenges of Medieval and early Modern

Jewish people scattered throughout the world as minority

Philosophers – Developed thought in dialogue with outside forces including academic and political forces.



882-942 (Iraq) Prominent leader of Rabbinic movement in Babylonia

He wrote in the context of serious challenges from


and Arab thinkers.


questioned the oral Torah and also actually some removed God from the act of creation. He wrote against Greek philosophical discourse to religious truths and developed



He wrote a philosophical defense of Judaism

Distinguishes between those truth of reason and those of revelation

He saw these truths as complimentary and as an example attempted a proof that God created the world.


Maimonides 1135 – 1204 (Spain and North Africa)

Codified Jewish law into 14 books known as the



(Repetition of the Torah)

Influenced by Arab philosophers trained in Aristotelian thought and science as a doctor.

Develop theology on questions of God and how one can even know God, how God can have so many attributes what is the essence of God unity and existence. Guide to the Perplexed:

Well versed Jewish believers with an understanding of science.

Concept of God presented in Bible in anthropomorphic form and how can God be that way

He also addressed prophecy and how a highly developed human intellect can then receive an emanation from God.

In Middle ages numerous legal codes were produced not only interpreting the


but including insights of the


that had developed over time.

Maimonides –



Rabbi Jacob


Asher produces the Four Rows: 14



Prayer and festivals

Dietary laws

Family law

Civil law

Rabbi Joseph


1488-1575 wrote the Bet Josef (The House of Joseph) and then a digest of it called the



which became the definitive statement of Jewish law.

Until 18


century traditional Judaism maintained that following the


was the true sign of a faithful Jew.


Enlightenment Period:


movement was trying to reconcile new modern secular world with Judaism

In 19


century led to emergence of Reformed Judaism in Germany

Questioned for the first time the need to follow


Stressed the central role of prophetic ethical teaching.

Later dropped many ritual components

Synagogue called Temple

Dropped a belief in a national restorative element

Dropped a belief in a personal messiah.

Present day division:


movement leads to unprecedented split in Judaism.

Adherence to


is seen by some as not required which was unheard of in the past


who ascribe to a strict adherence to the legal system of the Torah, the oral Torah of the Talmud and the



. It is an umbrella term obviously coming out of the Christian world for a wide variety of expressions of traditional Judaism.

Conservative find their roots in the thought of Frankel but is an American development maintain traditions but with an openness to the historical development of those traditions and frequent need to reconcile it with new realities. Basically saying the Reform group went too far


Besides those mentioned above Contemporary Judaism is marked by


Assimilation into society is ever-growing challenge

Christian Europe opens up to Jews but with the restrictions of giving up certain practices that set them apart.

Emergence of critical study of Bible


emerges with Jewish people also who were rather secular in their orientation.

Zionism was more secular saying that we must reclaim our land vs. the very religious understanding that God will restore us to the land

Some saw the return to the land was also a return to the Biblical faith but the fact is that Judaism had changed in its religious beliefs and self-identity.

Then what is the relationship of the Judaism outside of Israel to that of Israel.




Judaism is understanding the writings of Judaism. Study of Torah is prayer.

The Hebrew Bible (Christian Designation)


Torah: Creation to Moses Death

Traditional Jews consider that this was given to Moses in its entirety by God

It is read as part of synagogue ritual

It can be produced only on parchment with quill and special ink

All legal components of Judaism are considered to have their source in the Torah

In antiquity it was the primary if not the only text studied in formal education.


: Prophets (Up to the first destruction of the temple)

They are narrative and prophetic in nature

Prophesy is seen as exhortation to follow the Torah

Prophets cannot introduce new laws or change existing ones.

These books are only secondary in the synagogue service.


: Scriptures

Psalms- poems that were originally attributed to David.

The five scrolls each of which is read in synagogues on a specific festival day: Esther; Song of Solomon; Lamentations; Ecclesiastes which asks what is this world all about; Ruth that tells the story of a process of conversion of a Moabite woman who became ancestor of King David.

Job, Proverbs, Daniel and Ezra and Nehemiah

Ends with Second Temple period.


(Search or examine) Commentaries

Produced in the first 6 centuries of CE by Rabbinic Judaism revitalizing the faith in a post-temple period.

Follow the torah primarily commentating on its meaning

It is much more than exegesis and contains various literary forms like fables, examples, parables.

Often homiletic in approach.


Mishna and Talmud Follows topics rather than text of Torah

More of a legal texts

Mishna was completed by 3


century CE

Two major Rabbis as sources

There are six sections: Laws of agriculture; festivals, marriage laws, civil laws, laws of the temple (even though there is no Temple) and aspects of ritual purity (what they touched and what they ate etc.)

Talmud based on the Mishna

Completed by 6



Rabbinic centers of learning in Palestine and Babylonia and each produced their own Talmud

The Babylonian Talmud assumed preferred status

While it became the basis of Law, it is anything but a legal manual.

It is a compilation of discussions and debates over issues related to the Mishna and to life.

It is the opinions of respected Rabbis

Entering Modernity (distinct categories leads to a code) Rabbi Joseph Karo in 16


century produces a compilation of legal codes known as Shulhan Arukh

It has four sections: Rituals of daily life (prayers, Sabbath, holidays), dietary laws; laws of marriage and divorce; and civil law.

Responsa Literature, Commentaries, Prayer Book

Responsa were aimed at specific questions by followers of Judaism

There are thousands of such compilations

They are valuable as a source for Social history.

Later Biblical Commentaries in Middle ages.

Rashi was the most famous and his work became the source of study.

Almost every region had their scholars who were producing their works.

Prayer Book

Earliest is in the 8


century CE

A wide variety of these books reflects the diversity that existed in Judaism

Passover Text of Haggadah

Respect for Books (geniza)



Emergence of Rabbinic Judaism

Ancient Hebrew Religion

Worship in the Temple only - High level of centralization

Animal sacrifices by priests. A whole family grows up as the priests dedicated to temple worship

No mention of Rabbis but rather Kings, Priests and Prophets

Changes came about as a result of destruction of the Temple and grew with the destruction of the Second Temple by Romans

The second temple stood for nearly 600 years

The first for nearly 400 years

Jews from the “diaspora” supported it with funds, pilgrimages and prayed facing the Temple

Questions raised

Did this mean that the God of the Romans was stronger

Is there anything to live for without a temple

Others respond with an ascetic mourning. No eating of meat or drinking of wine

How will our sins be atoned for.

Finally there is the Rabbinic solution – we have to get on with life. Remember it but move on with life

It is attributed to Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai

Rabbi – A wise teacher of the Torah.



Rabbinic Judaism


Synagogue becomes center of Worship

Rabbi is learned profession and not hereditary like Temple priesthood

Rabbis are mobile and able to establish disciples all over the world

Study of Torah is central and is a form of Religious Devotion. It is prayer.

Innovation is balanced with emphasis on continuity with the past and the Torah. There is always in this early period of eventually the temple being rebuilt.

Three pillars of Ancient Hebrew faith were Torah, Temple sacrifice and acts of loving kindness. Yohanan ben Zakkai says when one drops off, another one of the three will take up the slack. Acts of loving kindness will atone for our sins.

Jewish Worship and the Synagogue

Prayer emerges to replace animal sacrifice

Prayer did appear in the Torah but as a private form of devotion in a time of personal need but was not seen as normal mode of worship of God

Moses for Miriam

Even Solomon prayed but then he did the sacrifices that appears to be primary mode of public prayer

Hannah praying for a child

However in the far off diaspora prayer may have become more prominent in the post-exile period. First synagogue appears in 3


century BCE in Egypt. Called place of prayer.



century CE a synagogue in Israel was built with the inscription that this is a place of the reading of the Torah, the teaching of the law with facilities to care for aliens. No mention of prayer.


A fixed framework for when, where and how to pray after the destruction of the Temple.

The basic framework established in first century CE remained fixed to today with slight additions and modifications.Three mandatory times of daily prayer: morning and afternoon and then later a third evening prayer. (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.Prayer itselfCall to prayerAmidah Prayer said while standing containing 19 blessings as attributes of God on weekdays and preceeded by blessings and then theShma Yisreal “Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” Three short readings from Torah Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13 – 21; Numbers 15: 37 – 41. This the central prayer to be said at time of death; at time of martyrdom; and central to the prayer service..Bind them on your hand an frontlets between your eyes. Tefillin black leather boxes inside is contained the parchment with biblical texts. Tallit or prayer shawl with fringes.Prayer in Hebrew with few exceptions until the reform movement. Portions begin to said in vernacular. However, with rebirth of Hebrew it is now again predominant.Prayers and poems have been introduced at different times including the prayerf or national leaders and prayers for the state of Israel.Prayer should be public: “We” pray; a quorum is necessary of 10 people except for the orthodox who require 10 males.Synagogue (House of Assembly) is seen as main place of worship although not necessary. It can be done even at home.Prayer, Torah reading and sermon on Torah are ordinary synagogue components for the SabbathComplete Torah is read in course of one yearThe scrolls of the Torah are deposited in an ark which stands at front.Prayer said facing the Ark but more traditionally facing Jerusalem (facing the Temple)Orthodox Synagogues have separate seating for men and women.Architecture often follows that of the local public buildings.



The Calendar

Sabbath (Shabbat)

Genesis 1 - 2:4a is from Priestly tradition

Related to creation and worship by witnessing to God’s glory

Imitation of God

Messianic hope

Was well established by the Exile period

Our Saturday – from Sundown of Friday

Day consecrated by the Lord to “rest”

Anticipating Redemption

Ex. 20: 8-11 includes all family members, slaves, alien guests and animals

No parallels in other Near Eastern religions

It is a sign of setting apart God’s people as part of God’s covenant

The people of God are to be different

See Num. 15: 32-36

Was originally celebrated on Saturday by Christians but then by 2


century CE most moved to Sunday as Lord’s Day – Resurrection.



Holy Days. Days of Awe

Rosh ha-Shana (New Year) Yearly day of judgment

Yearly day of judgment of all includes all people

Blowing of Rams horn (Abraham and Isaac story)

Remembering Abrahams faith and also wakening us up

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Ten days of repentance from Rosh ha-Shana. It is day of total fasting and prayer.

Take stock of your life

Total fast from Evening to evening

Solemn but not sad

One final blast of rams horn

Seasonal Holidays come from Biblical Exodus


(Tabernacles) Winter and the beginning of the reading of the yearly cycle of Torah

Just five days after Yom Kippur

People leave house remembering the booths

They build the booths and eat in them

Eighth day of holiday is the final reading of the year of Torah


Passover – Six months after Sukkot. The First night is the Seder with symbolic food and the reading of the Haggadah.

The six items on the Seder Plate are:


and ; Two types of bitter herbs, symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery which the Jews endured in Ancient Egypt.


; A sweet, brown, pebbly mixture, representing the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt.


; A vegetable other than bitter herbs, usually parsley


; A roasted

shank bone

, symbolizing the

korban Pesach

(Pesach sacrifice), which was a lamb offered in the

Temple in Jerusalem

and was then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night.


; A roasted egg, symbolizing the

korban chagigah

(festival sacrifice) that was offered in the

Temple in Jerusalem

and was then eaten as part of the meal on Seder night

Shavu’ot – Seven weeks (Pentecost) Commemorates the giving of Torah at Sinai.

Third Set of Holidays was added in the second temple period

Purim Jewish resistance to annihilation attempt in Book of Esther One month before Passover.

Hannukah Focuses on cultural clash between Judaism and Hellenism. Attempt to outlaw ritual in the Temple. Maccabees win the battle.

Fast Days

Ninth of Av remembering a multitude of misfortunes including the destruction of the Temple

Yom ha-Shoah - One week after Passover the Holocaust is remembered



Individual Life-Cycles

Marriage is for procreation

It is the very first commandment of the Bible. Be fruitful

Litany of blessings reflects it as a source of delight and joy and happiness.

Birth is followed by circumcision after 8 days normally however if the baby is not healthy then it is postponed until determined by a doctor.

Adult converts or Jews who were not circumcised must be circumcised although Reformed Jews opposed it in the 19



Sign of the covenant made with Abraham

Coming of Age – Rite of Passage

It is an assuming of the obligations of adulthood

Study of the Torah

Keeping of laws (mitzva commandments)

It is ritualized through in Reformed and Conservative.

Participation of service in Synagogue

Bar mitzva – son of commandments or belonging to the commandments

Around 13

Bat mitzva – daughter of the commandments or belonging to the commandments

Around 12

Rituals are much more recent development.

Introduction of children into the study of the Torah at about the age of 6 years for boys in antiquity but the growing involvement of women into Judaic learning. The study of Talmud and teaching of Talmud.



Nothing in the Torah prohibits polygamy but in fact since around 1000 it has not been an accepted


. Judaism is monogamous.

It is a process that involves (In the past it was a long process over time)

Betrothal (


) in which groom gives the bride a gift of specific value (a ring) in front of two witnesses and declares that “you are betrothed to me.”

Some months later The writing and signing of




. Marriage agreement if the groom divorces the bride. Protects the woman and couldn’t live together until this. The woman would give it to her mother for safekeeping.

They then go under the


symbolizing the house to which the bride is being introduced. After a number of blessings one of which is over a cup of wine they both sip from the cup

Then the


ceremony follows in which the groom gives a ring saying you are consecrated to me with this ring in accordance to the law of Moses and Israel” Then the


is read and wine is sipped again from the cup and then the groom is crushed under foot. (Destruction of Jerusalem)

Divorce. It happens. It was not meant to be and so lets get on with life. Some groups are now trying to restructure the


to be more symmetrical rather than just he man who can divorce the woman. The man initiates it by giving the document but the woman must accept it. Recently a woman can force a court to move a man to divorce her. Pressure him until he consents.

Death and Burial

Ideal death includes the recitation of the


and confession of faults

The corpse is cleaned and wrapped in plain white shroud and often men have their prayer shawls placed on them

Burial in the ground is traditionally the only way (Antiquity it was in two stages. Burial for one year in a cave to allow the corpse to decompose and then gather the bones one year later an put in urn and buried.)

Exclusive Jewish cemeteries.

Periods of Mourning follow

Shiva is a seven day period in which the family refrain from everyday activity; remain at home and receive condolences with daily prayers said at home

Second stage last for 30 days for all except the immediate offspring of the person

Third stage is for immediate offspring and lasts for another 11 months until the one year anniversary of the death and the


(prayer of sanctification) is prayed



Kabbalah (means tradition)

Distinction between God as God is and God as manifested in the world

God as God is unknowable

Manifestation of God is in ten powers known as sefirot and serve as bridge between God as God and us in our imperfect reality.

Bridge between en sof (limitless) and us.

Classic text is the Zohar which originally appeared in 13



Isaac ben Solomon Luria 16



God withdrew and created a void into which man and the sefirot crept in. What ensues is the ongoing process of emanations of God through the sefirot and withdrawal.

A mystical presentation of Israel’s vicissitudes between exile and redemption connected to God withdrawing and entering into creation.

Is connected to Hasidism.

God requires a clinging to God by prayer and devotion rather than study.

It was a revivalist movement founded in Poland and the community centers itself around a pious rabbi (zaddik) who maintained an personal relationship with God as intermediary of God to the Community.

Direct challenge to Rabbinic Judaism and opposed by them.






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