Judaism is the name given to the religious beliefs and practices of the Jews. One of the three great monotheistic world religions, Judaism began as the faith of the ancient Hebrews, and its sacred text is the Hebrew Bible, particularly the Torah. Fundamental to Judaism is the belief that the people of Israel are God’s chosen people, who must serve as a light for other nations. God made a covenant first withAbraham, then renewed it with Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. The worship of Yahweh (God) was centered in Jerusalem from the time of David. The destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalemby the Babylonians (586 BC) and the subsequent exile of the Jews led to hopes for national restoration under the leadership of a messiah. The Jews were later allowed to return by the Persians, but an unsuccessful rebellion against Roman rule led to the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70 and the Jews’ dispersal throughout the world in the Jewish Diaspora. Rabbinic Judaism emerged to replace the temple cult at Jerusalem, as the Jews carried on their culture and religion through a tradition of scholarship and strict observance. The great body of oral law and commentaries were committed to writing in the Talmud and Mishna. The religion was maintained despite severe persecutions in many nations. Two branches of Judaism emerged in the Middle Ages: the Sephardi, centered in Spain and culturally linked with the Babylonian Jews; and the Ashkenazi, centered in France and Germany and linked with the Jewish culture of Palestine and Rome. Elements of mysticism also appeared, notably the esoteric writings of theKabbala and, in the 18th century, the movement known as Hasidism. The 18th century was also the time of the Jewish Enlightenment, or Haskala. Conservative and Reform Judaismemerged in 19th-century Germany as an effort to modify the strictness of Orthodox Judaism. By the end of the 19th century Zionism had appeared as an outgrowth of reform. European Judaism suffered terribly during the Holocaust, when millions were put to death by the Nazis, and the rising flow of Jewish emigrants to Palestine led to declaration of the State of Israel in 1948 [Encyclopedia Britannica]. Israel was created at the cost of the original inhabitants, the Palestinians who are living in miserable inhuman conditions in camps.
According to Jewish Encyclopedia, Judiasm is the religion of the Jewish people (II Macc. ii. 21, viii. 1, xiv. 38; Gal. i. 13 = , Esth. R. iii. 7; comp. , Esth. viii. 17); their system of beliefs and doctrines, rites and customs, as presented in their sacred literature and developed under the influence of the various civilizations with which they have come in contact, widening out into a world-religion affecting many nations and creeds. In reality the name “Judaism” should refer only to the religion of the people of Judea, that is, of the tribe of Judah, the name “Yehudi” (hence “Judean,” “Jew”) originally designating a member of that tribe. In the course of time, however, the term “Judaism” was applied to the entire Jewish history.
A clear and concise definition of Judaism is very difficult to give, for the reason that it is not a religion pure and simple based upon accepted creeds, like Christianity or Buddhism, but is one inseparably connected with the Jewish nation as the depository and guardian of the truths held by it for mankind. Furthermore, it is as a law, or system of laws, given by God on Sinai that Judaism is chiefly represented in Scripture and tradition, the religious doctrines being only implicitly or occasionally stated; wherefore it is frequently asserted that Judaism is a theocracy (Josephus, “Contra Ap.” ii. 16), a religious legislation for the Jewish people, but not a religion. The fact is that Judaism is too large and comprehensive a force in history to be defined by a single term or encompassed from one point of view. Extending over thirty-five centuries of history and over well-nigh all the lands of the civilized globe, Judaism could not always retain the same form and character. Judaism in its formative period, that is, in the patriarchal and prophetic times, differed from exilic and post-exilicJudaism; and rabbinic or pharisaic Judaism again presents a phase quite different from Mosaic Judaism, to which the Sadducees, and afterward to some extent the Karaites, persistently clung. SimilarlyJudaism in the Diaspora, or Hellenistic Judaism, showed great divergences from that of Palestine. So, too, the mysticism of the Orient produced in Germany and France a different form of Judaism from that inculcated by the Arabic philosophy cultivated by the Jews of Spain. Again, many Jews of modern times more or less systematically discard that form of Judaism fixed by the codes and the casuistry of the Middle Ages, and incline toward a Judaism which they hold more in harmony with the requirements of an age of broader culture and larger aims. Far from having become 1900 years ago a stagnant or dried-up religion, as Christian theology declares, Judaism has ever remained “a river of God full of living waters,” which, while running within the river-bed of a single nation, has continued to feed anew the great streams of human civilization. Source: http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=666&letter=J&search=Judaism#2293
Articles on Judaism:
INTRODUCTION TO JUDAISM: By Dr.Zakir Naik
Judaism is one of the important Semitic religions. Its followers are known as Jews and they believe in the prophetic mission of Prophet Moses (pbuh). (II) CONCEPT OF GOD IN JUDAISM: (i) The following verse from the book of Deuteronomy contains an exhortation from Moses (pbuh): “Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad” It is a Hebrew quotation which means: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” [The Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4]
|The following verses are from the Book of Isaiah: (ii) “I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.” [The Bible, Isaiah 43:11] (iii) “I am Lord, and there is none else There is no God besides me.” [The Bible, Isaiah 45 : 5] (iv) “I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.” [The Bible, Isaiah 46:9] (v) Judaism condemns idol worship in the following verses: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” [The Bible, Exodus 20:3-5] (iv) A similar message is repeated in the book of Deuteronomy: “Thou shalt have none other gods before me.” “Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that in the earth beneath, or that is in the water beneath the earth.” “Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” [The Bible, Deuteronomy 5:7-9] In Judaism too, we find the same thread of monotheism, that is seen in other religions. (III) MUHAMMAD IN JEWISH SCRIPTURES (THE OLD TESTAMENT): 1) Muhammad (pbuh) prophesised in the book of Deuteronomy: a) God Almighty speaks to Moses in Book of Deuteronomy chapter 18 verse 18: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” b) Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is like Moses (pbuh): i) Both had a father and a mother. ii) Both were married and had children. iii) Both were accepted as Prophets by their people in their lifetime. iv) Both besides being Prophets were also kings i.e. they could inflict capital punishment. v) Both brought new laws and new regulations for their people. vi) Both died a natural death. c) Muhammad (pbuh) is from among the brethren of Moses (pbuh). Arabs are brethren of Jews. Abraham (pbuh) had two sons: Ishmail and Isaac. The Arabs are the descendants of Ishmail (pbuh) and the Jews are the descendants of Isaac (pbuh). d) Words in the mouth: Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was unlettered and whatever revelations he received from God Almighty he repeated it verbatim. Deuteronomy (18:18): “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” 2) Muhammad (pbuh) is prophesised in the book of Isaiah: It is mentioned in the book of Isaiah chapter 29 verse 12: “And the book is delivered to him that is not learned saying, ‘Read this, I pray thee’; and he saith, ‘I am not learned’. “When Archangel Gabriel commanded Muhammad (pbuh) by saying ‘Iqra’, he replied “I am not learned”. 3) Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is mentioned by name in the Song of Solomon chapter 5 verse 16: “Hikko Mamittakim we kullo Muhammadim Zehdoodeh wa Zehrace Bayna Jerusalem.” “His mouth is most sweet: ye, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughter of Jerusalem.” All the prophecies mentioned in the Old Testament regarding Muhammad (pbuh) besides applying to the Jews also hold good for the Christians (H Q. 61:6) Source: http://www.irf.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=141:intro-judaism&catid=52:comp-irf&Itemid=136 Books and Links