Judaism is a very old and interesting religion. If there is one pride its people deem as one of the most important, it is the antiquity of their religion. Judaism is one of the three major religions of the world that is monotheistic (the other two, Christianity and Islam). It believes that there is only one supreme God who created the world; a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere present, righteous and compassionate. It traces back its origin to Abraham, its founder and the first Jew (Genesis 12:1-4, The Bible, about 2000 B. C. )
(Robinson, 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, www. religioustolerance. org/). It is so old and influential that numerous scholars attributed to Judaism a lot of its contributions to the west and even to the world. One author said, “The western civilization owes its spiritual, moral, ethical and ideological roots in Judaism” (Max I. Dimont, Jews, God and History, p. 9 preface). Although this claim, to many, is yet to be proven, it appears to be backed by history.
Judaism believes that all the peoples of the earth descended from God. It believes that every human being is created after the very image of God and thus equal regardless of status in society, race, ethnicity, and nation. This “likeness” to God refers to moral and intellectual capacity in man and not anything outward. Because man is a moral being, every person has freedom to will and is therefore responsible and accountable to every action and for the choices opted. It is not difficult to perceive the ethical nature of Jewish religion.
Not only that its people distinguishes themselves as to the observance of the feasts which are distinctly jewish, but their commitment to follow the code of ethics which is widely known as the Ten Commandments differentiates them as the people of God. The Israelites accepted this Law through Moses from God at Mount Sinai (about 1200 B. C. from Abraham). They call these books of the law as the Torah. This law regulates their worship of God, their family life, and their treatment of their neighbors (other people). Modern day Jews exercise their religion basically through their observance of their special days.
One of those, which is very remarkable, since they celebrate it on a weekly basis, is the Shabbat. It starts at dusk on Friday till the close of Saturday, which is its sunset. This day is very important for the Jews around the world, and on this day, all of them cease from all work except works related to the celebration of Shabbat. In celebrating this special day of the week, a Jewish family creates solidarity among the Jewry around the world. It makes them feel their distinctness as a people and creates a feeling of union among the Jewish family worldwide.
Another tradition the average Jew celebrates is the Hanukkah. Also called Chanukah or the Feast of Lights, it is celebrated in the middle of December which corresponds to the Christian celebration of Christmas. It is nevertheless, not influenced by the Christian’s celebration of mass for Christ. It originates during the time of the Maccabees, when Mattathias of the Hasmonean family was the High Priest. It was the triumph of the Jews led by the High Priest and his family over the Seleucids led by Antiochos Epiphany and it features the cleansing of the temple of its pagan corruptions (Dimont, 1962, p.
85-86). Nine candles are lit and allowed to continue to burn throughout the festival, to commemorate the miracle the ancient Jews experienced that time. Succot or Sukkot, is another Jewish festival lasting eight or nine days. Jews would build Succah, which resembles a hut or tent. The observant Jews make it a point to put inside the Succah, tables and chairs, and at times, even a bed (Seymour Rossel, “Basic Judaism: Jewish Holy Days,” at: http://www. rossel. net/). . The Torah is vital to the life and tradition of the Jews.
It comprises of the first five books of the Old Testament which were the laws given to Moses in Mount Sinai. Literally means “teaching,” the Torah is also commonly known as the “Oral Law,” it is actually a part of the Jewish holy book. One can find its description in the Ten Commandments (as people now are familiar with) as found in Exodus 20: 3-17. Judaism is steeped with many traditional customs which as claimed, could be traced back to their antiquities, which are thousands of years old. Customs such as hygiene is remarkable since they scrupulously observe it in all its details.
It is interesting because it started during the time when sanitation was deemed irrelevant to health. Sanitation includes food preparation, its cooking and eating (© Copyright5761-5766 (2001-2006), Tracey R Rich, www. jewfaq. org) . Today, around the world, Jews organize their worship in a variety of ways. There is the Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, and the Reconstructionist liturgies which all express the modern day interpretation of their age-old traditions. All of these liturgies, however, reflect two thousand years of Jewish rabbinic and liturgical practices.
One distinguishing feature common to all these services is the reading of the Siddur, which is the traditional prayer book. Distinction nonetheless, is made between two kinds of prayer, the individual and the communal prayers. In the communal prayer, are certain characteristics which cannot be done without the prescribed setting which is the “quorum. ” Therefore, it is typically the most preferred type. A Yiddish term which is often used for Jewish style of prayer is the “Daven. ” From this word we take the English word “Davening. ” There are many Jewish services which cannot be covered in this article.
Nevertheless, another is worth mentioning. Aside from weekdays’ prayers, which are three times daily, there’s the “Mussaf”, the so-called additional prayers. It is called “additional” because typically, it is added on the Shabbat and other major holidays observed by Orthodox and Conservative congregations. They perform these during their service in their synagogues. The fifth prayer is on Yom Kippur and is only recited here. This is called the “Ne’ilah. ” All of the practices reflected in these rites and procedures are all based on the Jewish Bible (Deuteronomy 11:13) (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Jewish_services). It means their obedience to the One who has redeemed them and promised to keep them until the Messiah comes, their Ultimate Deliverer.
1. Dimont, Max I. , 1962. Jews, God and History. Signet Books, Madison, New York, 2. Rich, Tracey R. © Copyright 5756-5766 (1995-2006)www. Jewfaq. org 3. Robinson, BS. Copyright © 1996 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance www. religioustolerance. org/ 4. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Jewish_services 5. www.judaism.about.com.Sample Essay of StudyFaq.com