According to Emile Durkheim, religion is in fact a sociological process that is derived from the collective needs of the clan, or society. The totem, or quasi- divine found in a plant or animal unites the society as a clan and this totem becomes their emblem or mascot one could say. Durkheim then proposes the idea that, "Thus, if the totem is the symbol of both the god and the society, is this not because the god and the society are one and the same the god of the clan, the totemic principle, can be none other than the clan itself, but the clan transfigured and imagined in the physical form of the plant or animal that serves as the totem" (Durkheim 208). In other words through what Durkheim terms collective effervescence, or a misidentification of societal connectivity, the clan mistakes their own collective energy as a clan as the influence of a higher power. Thus the first religions were born as a unified system of beliefs and practice relative to the sacred totem, or emblem; the sacred has transcended the mere ordinary plan of existence and thus must be protected from the profane or ordinary. Hence, when one takes this idea of the sacred and societal energy and applies it to Judaism, one finds that the many of the practices and beliefs of the Judaic religion directly correlate to Durkheim's theories on totemism.
First and foremost the most apparent Jewish practice that relates to Durkheim is the practice of circumcision. When God entered into his covenant with Abraham, he required that all future generations of Abraham's family identify themselves as God's people;
Such shall be the covenant between Me and you and your offspring to follow which you shall keep: every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And throughout the generations, every male among you shall be circumcised at the age of... [continues]
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