The Hebrew God is portrayed as unitary and solitary and his principal relationship is with the people he created. According to the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), God promised Abraham he would make of his offspring a great nation. Many generations later, he commanded the nation of Israel to love and worship only one God; that is, the Jewish nation is to reciprocate God's concern for the world. He also commanded the Jewish people to love one another; that is, Jews are to imitate God's love for people. These commandments are but two of a large corpus of commandments and laws that constitute this covenant, which is the substance of Judaism.
Thus, although there is a mystical tradition in Judaism (Kabbalah), Fundamentally Judaism involves everyday personal experiences of God through ways or modes that are common to all Jews. This is played out through the observance of the Halakha (Jewish law) and given verbal expression in the Birkat Ha-Mizvot, the short blessings that are spoken every time a positive commandment is to be fulfilled.
The ordinary, familiar, everyday things and occurrences we have constitute occasions for the experience of God. Such things as one's daily sustenance, the very day itself, are felt as manifestations of God's loving-kindness, viewed as an imitation of God. It is concerned with daily conduct, with being gracious and merciful, with keeping oneself from defilement by idolatry, adultery, and the shedding of blood. And not only do ordinary things and occurrences bring with them the experience of God, everything that happens to a man evokes that experience, evil as well as good.
Judaism and Christianity and Islam are Abrahamic religions, which claim descent form the practices of the Israelites and the worship of the God of Abraham as described in the Bible. Judaism is the oldest viewing it’s start with Jacob, grandson of Abraham, beginning near 600 BC, Christianity 100 AD and Islam 700 AD.
In the 19th and 20th Centuries, Judaism developed a number of smaller branches including Orthodox, Conservative and Reform The Reform version became during the 1800s in German and in its modern form in the 1970s by Rabbi Abraham Geiger. It is a modernized form of Judaism stresses less on ritual and personal observance and more open to external influences and progressive values. Both Orthodox and Conservative Judaism place greater importance on tradition, ritual and history but the Orthodox version contains a component of revelation whereby truth or knowledge is acquired through communications with God and believes in much stricter core beliefs. There is argument by some as the extent to which this path focuses on rituals and traditions vs. dogma. The same may be said of differences within the Christian Faith.
Rituals and religious observance s are grounded in halakha meaning “the path one walks” which is comprised of commandments and rabinical law. This governs religious life, what to each and how to help the poor. It also provides a sense of Jewish identity and brings the sacred into everyday life.
Several significant occasions in a person’s like are recognized and celebrated. At 13, boys become a Bar Mitzvah or “”Son of the Commandments” and for girls it’s a Bat Mitzvah, daughter of the commandment”. Essentially it is a coming of age where adherence to the ideas of the Jewish faith are expected of them. The more celebratory version of this is a relatively new form but in all cases, learning the laws of the faith is required.
The process of mourning is extensive in Judaism and meant to show respect for the dead, comfort for those left behind but it provides a format to discourage excessive mourning and helps the bereaved return to normal life.
Children are named during the first Sabbath after a child is born and the father asks blessings for the health of mother and child. If she is a girl she is named at the time. Boys are named on the eighth day after birth as part of a rite of circumcision.
At the time of marriage, a two-part ceremony occurs, the first of which is an exchange of rings. In the second part the couple stands below a canopy symbolizing their new home together and cite seven marriage benedictions, share a glass of wine which the groom them smashed under his foot. Symbolically it represents the destruction of the temple or an act to scare away even or the taking of the bride’s virginity. The noise of the breaking of the glass begins the marriage celebrating with shouts of “Mazel tov!”
The Seder is a core religious tradition observed by Jews every year to mark the beginning of Passover. It symbolizes a reenactment of the story of the Jewish people’s descent into Egypt and begins with the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and recalls the suffering of the Jews under the Pharaoh and the 10 plagues visited visited upon him as punishment for the persecution and suffering he caused the Jews. This tradition includes various kinds of food in small amounts, each representing aspects of the suffering the Jews experienced as well. During the Seder, blessings are offered, Prayers recognizing the almighty are offered and a feast is enjoyed and ending with a phrase often sung at the end that evokes the desire to return to a rebuilt Jewish Temple in Israel, the original being built near 857 BC.
In the 12th Century, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon also known as Maimondides was born in present day Spain and worked as a Rabbi in present day Morocco and Egypt. As the most widely acclaimed scholar of the Torah, he developed fundamental principles of faith, which are widely considered the most popular tenets of Judaism.
13 Principles of Faith:
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is the Creator and Guide of everything that has been created; He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is One, and that there is no unity in any manner like His, and that He alone is our God, who was, and is, and will be.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, has no body, and that He is free from all the properties of matter, and that there can be no (physical) comparison to Him whatsoever.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is the first and the last.
- I believe with perfect faith that to the Creator, Blessed be His Name, and to Him alone, it is right to pray, and that it is not right to pray to any being besides Him.
- I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.
- I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses our teacher, peace be upon him, was true, and that he was the chief of the prophets, both those who preceded him and those who followed him.
- I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that is now in our possession is the same that was given to Moses our teacher, peace be upon him.
- I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be exchanged, and that there will never be any other Torah from the Creator, Blessed be His Name.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, knows all the deeds of human beings and all their thoughts, as it is written, "Who fashioned the hearts of them all, Who comprehends all their actions" (Psalms33:15).
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, rewards those who keep His commandments and punishes those that transgress them.
- I believe with perfect faith in the coming of theMessiah; and even though he may tarry, nonetheless, I wait every day for his coming.
- I believe with perfect faith that there will be a revival of the dead at the time when it shall please the Creator, Blessed be His name, and His mention shall be exalted forever and ever.