Everything we do, believe or see cannot be defined and complied just in one sentence. If this was possible, than it would have been really easy for everyone to understand and master the universe. All we would have to do would be to just look it up in the dictionary and define it. There would be no conflicts or arguments over the same word. This would also make Experience and history less important to today’s world, but things do not work like that. Even a simple word like Religion is defined in infinite different ways. Though Webster’s dictionary tries to define it by saying it is only a noun. Religion according to Webster’s dictionary is defined as “A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”. Science takes this one step further and tries to explain every phenomenon. But if you type the word religion in today’s modern online Google mania world, you would find numerous definitions for the word religion. This just shows that there different ways to look and describe the same thing. People tend to believe what they like or what they think is right. Like the movie matrix it’s all about choice.
The topic of my paper is Judaism. Just like religion, Judaism can be defined in many ways. We can argue weather Judaism is a religion, race, ethnic group and so on. With all this in mind let us be more flexible and look into more detail to what does Judaism really mean or how can you explain it.
According to Webster’s Dictionary Judaism is defined as the “monotheistic religion of the Jews, tracing its origins to Abraham and having its spiritual and ethical principles embodied chiefly in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Talmud”. But can this one sentence definition satisfy or explain us everything what Judaism means and stands for. Clearly Judaism is a religion. In the book Understanding Judaism author Benjamin Blech tries to define Judaism by saying that: Judaism is primarily a religion of actions rather than beliefs. When Jewish people accepted God’s covenant, they committed themselves first to obedience and practice, and than to striving to understand the message implicit in Torah. He contends that Judaism is an active religion based on performance of mitzvot(commandment of the Jewish law)(1991 p. 1). While author Leon Roth defines Judaism in his book Judaism: A Portrait: As unity of intellectual doctrine and moral discipline. The intellectual doctrine can be expressed in thirteen articles of faith; the moral discipline is contained in the precepts of the Law. Both are rational, not however in the sense that they proceed from reason but that they accord with reason. The moral discipline in particular being attuned with the human condition contains historical elements which are not deducible from a priori premises. It has however a general basis in the principles of morality and its practice leads to religious truth. (1961, p. 214). Author Alfred J. Kolatch of the book The Jewish book of why defines Judaism as follows: Judaism is more than a religion. It is a way of life. Over the centuries it has created standards of practice, most of which have been codified in the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law). These laws spell out what the conduct of the Jew should be from the moment he opens his eyes in the morning until the moment his head touches the pillow at night. (1982, P. 14) Author Tracy R. defines Judaism as “A set of ideas about the world and the way we should live our lives that is called "Judaism." It is studied in Religious Studies courses and taught to Jewish children in Hebrew schools. She further narrows it down by saying that “There is a lot of flexibility about certain aspects of those beliefs, and a lot of disagreement about specifics, but that flexibility is built into the organized system of belief that is Judaism” (http://www.jewfaq.org/judaism.htm)
Some of the Common Beliefs and practices
Sometime back during the beginning of this semester I had...
Bibliography: 1. Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (10th Ed.). (1993). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
2. Benjamin, Blech (1991). Understanding Judais, Northvale, New Jersey, London: Jason Aronson Inc.
3. Albert M. Shulman, (1971). Gateway to Judaism: Encyclopedia Home Reference Volume II, Cranbury, New Jersey: Thomas Yoseloff Publishers.
4. Perle Epstein, (1978). Kabbalah: The Way of the Jewish Mystic, Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc.
5. Norman Solomon, (2000). Judaism: A Very Short Introduction, New York: Oxford University Press Inc.
6. Alfred J. Kolatch, (1981). The Jewish Book Of Why, New York: Jonathan David Publishers, Inc.
7. Leon Roth, (1961). Judaism: A Portrait, New York: The Viking Press.
8. Lee A. Bell, (1982). Introduction to Judaism, New York: Frendrich & Company
9. Tracey R Rich, Judaism 101, (2004, May 25).
10. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary online, (2004, May 15).
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