Judaism Overview 1

Judaism Overview 1

The Judaism (Jewish religion) is the oldest world religion with a belief in only one God. The Jewish religion developed around 4000 years ago in what is now Israel and is an essential foundation for Christianity and Islam.

To go without a smartphone, game console and television for a day and to walk all routes would be quite difficult for most of them. Believing Jews do just this voluntarily and consciously every week on a special day, the Sabbath.

In this way they fulfill the divine command to remember that after the creation of the world God rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Sabbath is a day when no work is to be done, nothing to be created or destroyed. It begins at dusk on Friday evening, ends at sunset on Saturday and is also the highest Jewish holiday. The commandment to rest on the Sabbath is only one of a total of 613 God-given commands and prohibitions. These all come from the most important holy scripture in the Jewish faith, the Torah.

Who is a Jew?

According to electronicsencyclopedia.com, a Jew is anyone who was born to a Jewish mother. This principle still applies today. Apart from the fact that the mother is usually determined beyond doubt, the regulation assured the newborns that they would be accepted into the Jewish community. Anyone who is not born a Jew can convert to the Jewish faith. Such a conversion according to the provisions of the Halacha is tedious and often takes several years.

In contrast to Christianity and Islam, Judaism is not a so-called missionary religion that tries to win new followers for the faith. The reason for this is the traditional Jewish belief that God has chosen the people of Israel for an everlasting covenant.

Today around 14.2 million Jews live worldwide, almost 6.7 million of them in Israel. The Jewish communities in Germany currently have almost 100,000 members. According to estimates, there are around 90,000 Jews who have not joined any congregation.

Foundations of the Jewish Faith

The most important holy scripture in Judaism is the so-called Torah. It contains 613 religious do’s and don’ts that Jews should obey in their way of life. The best known are the so-called Ten Commandments. The Jewish creed and most important prayer, the “Schm’a Jisrael” or in German “Hear Israel”, is written in the Torah. It strongly emphasizes belief in one God.

A large part of the description of the Torah is devoted to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and their 40-year migration through the desert to the God-promised land of Canaan in the area of ​​today’s Israel. Against this background, the special importance of today’s State of Israel for Jews living in other countries of the world can be explained. Jewish holidays mostly go back to the explanations of the Torah.

The Torah forms the first part of the Tanach, the Jewish Bible. The second part comprises the 15 books of the prophets. These prophets such as Elijah, Jeremiah or Isaiah are people who are chosen by God according to religious ideas and who preach divine messages. The third part of the Tanakh is the so-called scriptures. These include 150 prayers and songs, the psalms. The scriptures also include various other texts such as the Book of Proverbs, the books of Ruth and Esther and the Song of Solomon.

The entire Tanach is contained in the Christian Bible under the name ” Old Testament ” and has an important meaning also for Christianity. Recently, Christians have increasingly used the term “First Testament” instead of the “Old Testament”.

Religious interpretation

Jewish religious scholars, the rabbis, already thought about 2000 years ago how one should understand the explanations of the Torah on the divine commands and prohibitions and how to apply them in everyday life. Extensive writings called the Talmud have been compiled from their various commentaries, interpretations and explanations.

As in Christianity, Islam or other religions, it is above all a personal decision for Jews how strictly they want to obey the many do’s and don’ts and which ones they may not adhere to at all. Judaism has different currents which interpret religious duties differently.

The strictest stance is held by the so-called Orthodox Jews. They direct their entire lifestyle towards fulfilling the God-given commands and prohibitions as literally as possible. Liberal Jews believe that the ethical principles of religion are immutable and permanent. From their point of view, the other religious obligations to act may be interpreted appropriately for the respective living environment in its temporal change.

Judaism Overview 1