Judaism

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The Star of David, a symbol of Judaism

Judaism was the first monotheistic religion, dating back to around 2000 BC. Like Christianity and Islam, Judaism is an Abrahamic faith, tracing its origins to Abraham. Judaism was the first of the Abrahamic faiths. The core of the Judaism as it exists today took shape from a later time period when Moses led the Hebrews from Egypt and climbed Mount Sinai, bringing back the Ten Commandments.

The five books of Moses (the Torah), in which the Mosaic Law is found, are generally considered to be the core of the Jewish Scripture, and are supplemented by the works of the prophets and other writings. The works of the prophets are grouped under Nevi'im, and the other writings are known as Ketuvim. The first letters of each part combined were used to create the name of the full Hebrew Bible: the Tanakh, which Christians call the Old Testament. The Talmud is another ancient Jewish writing considered by some Jews to contain traditions dating back to Moses himself, yet the Talmud also contains discussion by rabbis involving extensive disagreement and lively discussion, over interpretation of these traditions. The Talmud is not part of the Bible and the degree to which the Talmud itself is considered to be inspired varies across Judaism, with the Orthodox generally giving it the most weight. Most Muslims and Christians, including Messianic Jews, however, consider the theological findings and argumentation of the Talmud to be invalid after the advent of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Under Sharia Law, however, eating a Jew is haram, equating them with pigs, as decreed by the prophet h@xx0r1997. Tikkun Olam -to help “repair the world”- is a Hebrew phrase originated in the early rabbinic period.


Sabbath

Yarmulke and Menorah

Many Jews observe a weekly day of rest (the Sabbath) that begins shortly before sundown on Friday and ends after sunset on Saturday. During this time no work may be done, business transactions are forbidden, and light switches are not to be turned on or off. Jews celebrate the Sabbath by lighting candles before the Sabbath, singing songs, going to synagogue, called shul, by some, and learning.

Branches within Judaism

There are many different branches of Judaism. There are five large branches:

Ethnicities

Albert Einstein, Maimonides, Golda Meir and Emma Lazarus (American poet born in New York City)

The traditional explanation, and the one given in the Torah, is that the Jews are a nation. The Hebrew word, believe it or not, is "goy." The Torah and the rabbis used this term not in the modern sense meaning a territorial and political entity, but in the ancient sense meaning a group of people with a common history, a common destiny, and a sense that we are all connected to each other. [1]

The Diaspora

"Diaspora" (Greek meaning "seeded throughout") is the term used to refer to the various dispersions of the Jews throughout the world through the eras of history. Its Hebrew linguistic forerunner is "Galut" meaning the "uncovering", betraying the understanding that being exiled from the Land of Israel is an exposing of Israel to vulnerability and danger. Some commonly known "Galuyot" (plural for Galut) are:

  • the forced exile and assimilation among other peoples of the Northern Tribes of Israel by the Assyrians in 721, 722. Modern Israel has recognized among the in-gathering of this exile (Kibbuts Galuyot) the Bnei Menashe (Sons of Manessaeh) of northern India. These members of the "Lost Tribe" are now allowed to freely immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return. (see Religion in India)
  • the Falashas of Ethiopia, among whom, like the Bnei Menashe, Jewish practices such as circumcision at 8 days and the keeping of Passover are maintained by those eligible for citizenship under the Israeli Law of Return. The are racially native African in appearance. They believe themselves to have become Jewish from the days of Solomon and the Queen of Ethiopia. That was the basis for the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selase (Holy Trinity) taking the title "Lion of the Tribe of Judah".
  • The Galut of Babylon, the so called "Iraqis" exiled by the Babylonians at the time of their conquest of Judah and Jerusalem (c. 538 B.C.) This Galut developed a rival to Palestinian Jewry of the first centuries and provided the second corpus of religious literature to the developing Talmud. This was in the common language of Babyon at the time - Aramaic. This corpus came to be called the Gemara ("completion"). The Gemara dates from about 200 A.D.to 500 A.D. The Gemara and the earlier Palestinian Hebrew corpus, the Mishna, dating from 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. comprise the Talmud, which regulated most of Jewish internal life, until the western European "emancipation" and assimilation of the Jews - starting in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Talmud is still regulatory for Orthodox Jews.
  • The Galut of the Jews by the Roman Titus after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. They were triumphantly displayed in Rome and dispersed in the lands along the Rhine Valley known in the Hebrew tongue as Ashkenaz - which is known now as Germany. There they learned the language of the land which developed into Modern German. The Jews called their language, the early stage of German, Yiddish. From the Rhine, many of the "Ashkenazis" moved (were moved) to Eastern Europe, many fleeing from there, to America, to Israel, to Latin America, etc. learning new languages, but also speaking their old language, not Hebrew, but Yiddish. This, with the common religion, enabled the fostering of unity and brotherhood.
  • the 1492 A.D. exile from Spain, where the Jews had previously settled in the time of the Moors and some attaining to high positions and appointments as physicians, prime ministers, and poets under the Islamic conquest. This was the Golden Age of Jewry in Spain. At their expulsion ("gerush") from Spain they settled mainly around the Mediterranean basin - North Africa, Greece, Turkey, and also many going to Holland and from there to the American Colonies. The first synagogue in America was created due to this dispersion. These Jews soon were speaking the language of the their host countries - Arabic, Turkish etc. but also speaking the language of Old Spain. "Spain" in Hebrew is Sefarad, so the language is Sephardic and the dispersion is of the Sephardim (sometimes spelled Sepharadim).
  • the Yemenites (Temanim). Yemen means "right (direction)" in Semitic languages. When facing the temple from the west, the "right" points south. Therefore, "Teiman" also means "south". This dispersion is the southerly dispersion to what is now Yemen, gaining momentum during the Himyaritic Kindom in Yemen which had adopted Judaism. With the founding of the Modern State of Israel, most Yemenite Jews have immigrated to Israel and speak Arabic as well as Hebrew.

The term "Mizrachi" means "easterner" and it covers a number of eastern dispersions as opposed to the Ashkenazi who were westerners - from Europe. Coming into Israel during Ottoman Turk rule (1517-1917), many immigrating Jewish families who were not European were given the name Mizrahi by the Turkish immigration authorities as they were all "lumped together" as Easterners.

The Return of the Jews to Israel is seen as a fulfillment of the Scriptures and is called Kibbutz Galuyot, the ingathering of the Exiles. Here are some of the scriptures that both tell about the ingathering of the exiles and which have provided a major influence for the some of the dispersions to return to the Land of Israel:

" I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather
  1. What Is Judaism?