Facts about Judaism

We found 24 facts about Judaism

One of the three great Abrahamic religions

Judaism is the world's oldest monotheistic religion, with origins dating back to 2000 BC. It is based on belief in a single God and is a set of beliefs, ethical values, and attitudes derived from the customs and traditions of the Jewish people. Jews see Judaism as an expression of the covenant that God has made with them as a chosen people. Christianity and Islam have their roots in this religion.

Judaism is a monotheistic religion based on the belief in a single God, the Creator of the world and its Protector.

This God made an everlasting covenant with the people of Israel, to whom he promised protection and help in exchange for obedience to the laws he established.

It is the first of the Abrahamic religions.

Abrahamic religions are religions that have their roots in the ancient accounts of the Jewish holy book, the Torah, about Abraham, the biblical patriarch.

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Judaism is the national (ethnic) religion of the Jews.

An ethnic religion is a system of beliefs held by a particular ethnic group, developed within that group, and closely related to its traditions, culture, and the specifics of the area it inhabits.

Judaism evolved from Biblical Judaism (Yahwism), which took shape from the second century BC until 70 AD, when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed. It then underwent a profound reorientation, after which it became the national religion of the Jews.

It derives from the beliefs of the Hebrews, who were probably part of the nomadic Habir tribes that came from across the Euphrates River into Syro-Palestine (the collective name for the lands that include modern Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon).

The Hebrews, recognizing Abraham as their ancestor, preserved the tradition of his journey from Mesopotamian Ur to Canaan and the covenant he made with God, who promised him many descendants and dominion over the land of Canaan. Circumcision became the symbol of this covenant.

The preservation of traditions also applied to Abraham's descendants.

Son of Isaac, grandson of Jacob (also known as Israel), and twelve great-grandsons (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad, Dan, Naphtali, Asher, Joseph, and Benjamin), from whom the Twelve Tribes of Israel would be descended.

The tradition of the Hebrews also tells of the captivity of the descendants of Israel in Egypt, Yahweh's new covenant with Moses, the plagues God sent on Egypt, and the escape from Egypt with God's help.

The account also speaks of the wilderness journey, the establishment of the priesthood (from the sons of Levi - the Levites), and the conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua. It also speaks of the establishment of a unified Israelite monarchy.

The united kingdom of Israel was founded around 1030 BC, with Saul as its first king.

During the reign of the second king, David, the Israelites conquered Jerusalem and established it as their national and religious capital.

Historically, Judaism is divided into Biblical Judaism and Rabbinic (Talmudic) Judaism.

Biblical Judaism developed around the 10th century BC, when Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem and placed the Ark of the Covenant there. The prophets played an important role in the continuation of Judaism, exhorting the Israelites to remain faithful to the covenant they had made with God.

Thanks to the prophets and the priests who preserved the tradition, the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians and the Babylonian captivity did not lead to the decline of Judaism, but to its transformation into a religion that was practiced regardless of the territory in which its followers lived.

After liberation from slavery, the Second Temple was built, and Judaism, as a religion based on the Law, became the foundation of life in the land.

Its followers fulfilled religious obligations such as circumcision, resting on the seventh day of the week or Sabbath, and observing strict dietary and ritual purity. They also held out hope for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel.

During the period from the 4th to the 2nd century BC, several groups coexisted in Judaism, differing, among other things, in their attitudes toward Roman political domination, authority, and the laws handed down by oral tradition.

These groups were: Maccabees, and later Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, Zelots, and others. There was also the final codification of the first two parts of the Hebrew Bible - the Torah and the historical and prophetic books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and others). In addition to the written Torah, there was also its interpretation and development, called the Oral Torah - according to Jewish tradition, the two Torahs are one and come from Moses.

The codification of the oral tradition came through the writing down of the Mishnah (the oldest part of the Talmud).

The destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 AD ushered in the period of Rabbinic Judaism, whose essential features are discipline and ritual in daily life, the synagogue as the center of worship, prayer in place of sacrifice.

The destruction of the Temple caused the dispersion of the Jews (Jewish Diaspora - Galut). Rabbis (who replaced the priests, the former "scribes"), experts and teachers of the Torah, established the canon of the Hebrew Bible and the rules of Judaism without the Temple.

Rabbinic Judaism, also known as Talmudic Judaism, takes its name from the Talmud, a collection of rabbinic teachings, both in the form of a commentary on the Mishnah and a commentary on the Bible, written in the 5th-7th centuries.

Judaism in the Talmudic form was accepted as valid by virtually all Jews (the Talmud was not recognized by the Karaites). Rabbinic Judaism became the basis for all later branches of Judaism.

During the Middle Ages, Judaism developed into two main strands: the Sephardic and the Ashkenazic.
  • The Sephardic stream developed in the Jewish communities of the Mediterranean basin under the influence of Arab-Muslim civilization, with a center in Muslim Spain.
  • The Ashkenazi stream developed in the Jewish communities under the influence of the Latin-Christian civilization, which existed mainly in France and Germany and, from the 16th century, moved mainly to the territory of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, where the largest concentrations of Jews were established.
The history of Judaism includes both attempts at rational explanation and mystical speculation about the mysteries of creation.

The rationalist approach is represented by Moses ben Maimon's The Guide for the Perplexed - a synthesis of Jewish thought and Aristotle's philosophy. Judaism's most important mystical work is the Sefer Jecira - an ancient Jewish treatise on the creation of the world that has been an inspiration to Jewish mystics.

The most famous school of Jewish mysticism became the Kabbalah (the spiritual-mystical-philosophical school of Judaism), with its book Zohar (a mystical commentary on the Torah, the Song of Songs, and the Book of Ruth) - a work published in Spain in the 13th century.

Jewish mystics include Isaac Luria, who lived in the 16th century, and the founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov, in the 18th century. Messianic hopes were reflected in the Sabbatarian and Frankist movements, derived from the names of the "messiahs" Sabbatai Zevi and Jacob Frank (about whom Olga Tokarczuk wrote "The Books of Jacob").

These "messiahs", however, made religious conversions, the former to Islam, the latter to Christianity.

Judaism is the religion of only one people - the Jews, but in the past there were non-Jewish peoples and ethnic groups who adhered to this faith.

These were the inhabitants of various Middle Eastern countries conquered or resettled by Neo-Assyrian Empire (an ancient Semitic state), including Babylonia. The non-Jewish settlers embraced Judaism, and after mingling with the Jews who remained in the area, they gave rise to a new ethnic group - the Samaritans.

Among the Jewish peoples with their own state were the Turkic-speaking Khazars, who professed rabbinic Judaism.

Among the non-Jewish peoples who adhered to Judaism were the Arabs, who, until the advent of Muhammad, followed native cults, Christianity, and Judaism. The follower of Judaism was originally Muhammad's first wife, Khadijah. Judaism was also widely practiced in Ethiopia. Another group of adherents of Judaism are some of the Iranian-speaking Tatars living in the Caucasus, known as Mountain Jews.

There are several modern varieties of Judaism.

These include:

  • Hasidism - strongest today in the United States and Israel. According to Hasidim, the most important thing in religion is the performance of rituals, piety, and the joy of serving God. Its charismatic leader is a tzaddik.
  • Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Haredi) - negative towards all change and cultural progress, and its members adhere to the principle "Everything new is forbidden by the Torah".
  • Modern Orthodoxy (Neo-Orthodoxy) - this type of Judaism seeks to reconcile Orthodox Judaism with modern culture, science, and society.
  • Reform (Progressive) Judaism - recognizes tradition as historical and subject to reform. It rejects the messianism of the Jewish people, and its adherents recognize only the Jewish faith as a nationality. The largest groups of Reform Judaism are found in the United States and Great Britain, and the smallest in Israel.
  • Conservative Judaism - indirectly combines elements of Orthodox and Reform Judaism, advocating the preservation of the Hebrew language in liturgy, the observance of the Sabbath, and a kosher diet.
  • Falasha - this faction is represented by descendants of Judaized settlers of Ethiopian origin. They adhere to the principles of Judaism without Hebrew in the liturgy (they use the Ethiopian language Geʽez).
  • Karaite Judaism - rejects the Talmud, with Moses as the greatest prophet.
  • Messianic Judaism (Judeo-Christianity) - combines the use of Jewish law with Christian law.
  • Liberal Judaism - a variant of Reform Judaism.
  • Humanistic Judaism - a theistic form of Judaism

Jewish law - halacha - ("way to walk, way to behave") is an authentic and authoritative interpretation of the Law of Moses (Torah) that shows how to apply the Law to specific life situations.

Jewish law regulates the lives of its adherents in great detail. It is based on the Torah, which is interpreted in the Halachic portion of the Talmud.

Halacha deals with cultic and liturgical regulations, food regulations (kosher), and various aspects of daily life that apply to Orthodox Jews. Traditionally, there are said to be 613 commandments (mitzvot), consisting of 248 commandments and 365 prohibitions.

There are several major Jewish holidays that are celebrated at certain points in the annual cycle, which form the basis of the ritual and define the meaning of the festival days.

These include:

  • Rosh Hashanah - the New Year.
  • Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement.
  • Sukkot - the Festival of Booths.
  • Hanukkah - the Festival of Restoration.
  • Purim - Festival of Destiny.
  • Pesach (Passover) - The Feast of Spring or Unleavened Bread, Matzah, Freedom.
  • Shavuot (Pentecost) - the Feast of First Fruits.
One of the most important prayers in Judaism is the Kaddish.

It is part of all Jewish communal prayers. It is a liturgical formula in Aramaic that praises God's name, expresses submission to His will, and calls for the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God. Kaddish is often mistakenly referred to as a prayer for the dead.

The primary symbol of the Judaism is the Star of David (Magen David), also known as the Shield of David.

It is a six-pointed star (hexagram) composed of two overlapping isosceles triangles (usually equilateral) that are rotated relative to each other.

The vertices of the Star of David, in the case of equilateral triangles, lie on a circle at points corresponding to the even hours on a clock face. In Jewish esoteric teachings, it is known by the traditional name of seal of Solomon.

The second symbol of Judaism is the menorah - a seven-branched candelabrum.

It is one of the oldest and most widely used symbols in Jewish religious art. It is considered a symbol of Judaism, and its image was used in the coat of arms of the State of Israel.

In Jewish tradition, the menorah was a sacred, golden, seven-branched candelabra placed in the First Tabernacle (Moses' tabernacle, the portable temple of the ancient Israelites) and later used in the Jerusalem Temple.

A distinctive, recognizable symbol of the Jewish faith is the kippah (yarmulke), a popular head covering.

Wearing a kippah is not a requirement of the Torah, is not derived from the Bible or Talmud, and is a custom that originated in Middle Eastern culture, where a covered head is a sign of respect.

Wearing a yarmulke is absolutely required during prayer and Torah study.

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