Judaism is a result of the coming together of the Hebrew tribes who had a common, unique belief in one God; Yahweh. The practice of Judaism centers on the observation of the Torah. Judaism is the religious culture of the Jews also called the people of Israel. It is the world’s oldest continuing religious tradition. The origin of Judaism can be traced to the Middle East in the land of Israel. Consequently, the Jews are in almost every corner of the globe due to exiles (forced) or intended migration. Historical (or rather Pre-modern) Judaism, comprised of a well-formed cultural system integration that promoted communal and individuals mutual existence. Under this integrated system, all people had to be considered under God’s rules for consecration. This was carried out by use of justice and cosmic order that had a Devine revelation.
As noted by Robinson (1995) Judaism is based on a covenant or a conceptual agreement between God and the Jewish people. According to the Jewish custom, God the creator of heaven and earth entered an extraordinary agreement with them at Sinai. They followed and observed his laws for they accredited him as their sole representative and definitive king. The creator in turn accepted Israel as his children and became watchful of them.
The notion of the covenant (agreement) greatly concludes the historical as well as natural view in Judaism. The well-being of the people of Israel was based on their obedience to God’s commandments. They interpreted everything whether natural or historical that happened to them as emanating from God and as a result of religious behavior influence. They behold a perception of having a direct causal connection with God which intensifies the theodicy problem (Robinson, 1995).
Jews make prayers thrice a day i.e. at sunrise, at noon, and sunset. These prayer times corresponded with the sacrifice offerings in the Jerusalem temple. All Jewish worship services have a single requirement called the benedictions called Tefillah or standing prayer for they are recited while standing. They also have a major rubric the recitation of Shema in the morning and evening, all their services are concluded with two prayers are the messianic prayers. As a gesture of respect for God, the head is covered during prayer with either a skullcap or a hat. The Torah reading (that is highly regarded as God’s will to the Jews) is taken to be a form of worship. Every day morning payers could not be complete without reciting phrases from the scriptures (Judaism).
Apart from the daily prayers, several other benedictions were recited before performing commandments throughout the day. According to the Jews, humans are gardeners and tenants, for the earth is the Lord’s; hence the owner is worth of all appreciation before partaking of the fruits. They also observed dietary laws which can be classified as the temple cult. One’s table at home is a representation of the Lord’s table therefore certain animals which are termed unclean were not eaten. There was thorough draining of blood before taking any meat. Milk and meat were consumed separately.
They abstained from all manner of work on every Sabbath day; they claimed to return the world to the owner recognizing that humans extract resources on sufferance from it. Prayers, family banqueting, scripture reading as well as resting characterized the Sabbath day. The Jews’ year was marked by seven events i.e. two minor and five most important occasions.
The Jews emphasize physical washing which is a religious ritual that is washing of persons or objects usually with water. This is called ablution. This outward physical cleansing provided religious traditions with strong symbols of inward purification. In the diaspora, the Hindus have bathed in the waters of the sacred Ganges River in India to attain holiness. The Muslims before their five times of prayer have washed their faces with sand if water is not available. Lots of religious ablutions are performed by the Mandaeans of Iraq, most notably bathing in the river Euphrates every morning before sunrise. Among the Jews, a ritual bath is used in some purification ceremonies especially purification of a person converting to Judaism or of women after menstruation. In the western world, the form of religious ablution which is believed by some Christian denominations to wash both original and personal sins is baptism (Robinson, 1995).
Place and location of worship visited
The western wall in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism. The wall is all that remains of the second temple, built by Herod the Great. Customarily the Jews visit this site, which is commonly referred to as the Wailing Wall, to express grief for the carried out destructions of the first and the second temples. It is a traditional site of the Jews pilgrimage; lamentation and prayer. They also hold religious ceremonies here.
Their services of worship whether in the temple or at the western wall are characterized by recitation from Torah and prayers. The prayers in the temple are guided by books. They are done like the current day prayers in Catholic and Anglican churches. The prayers are recited led by the Rabbi. Their worshiping is carried out on Saturday with the Sabbath beginning on Friday (sunset/ evening) all through to Saturday (sunset/evening). This is purely a time to pray, rest, and may behold family feasts but not for business as usual. The Jewish male regularly visits the synagogue or temple.
The synagogue in their locality is administered by the parishioners and is usually presided over by a rabbi chosen by the worshippers. A rabbi is a teacher who has been educated in Jewish law and tradition. Any adult male believed to have adequate understanding can always be chosen to front religious services. In some conservative congregations and reforms, women are allowed to preside over mostly done in congregations without a rabbi. In Israel, two chief Rabbis have authority in areas of family laws
We the Jews are the oldest people history has known. We have maintained a unique cultural identity based on the idea of a covenant and a special relationship with God. Over time we have settled in most if not all parts of the world impacting many civilizations which our religion have has influenced beyond its adherents. Christianity emanated from Judaism and the Muslims have accepted most practices and traditions of Judaism.
The holiday that I hold dearly to is the Passover which occurs in the lunar months. Here we celebrate the deliverance of the Jews from slavery it also lays the basis for the faith I strongly profess. On the first night of the Passover, a ceremonial dinner is prepared. The special food is symbolic of the elements of the story of the exodus. In Israel, it is celebrated for seven days but other parts celebrate it for eight days. It authenticates the right position I hold in the faith for it through deliverance the truth dawned. This festival with its uniqueness helps me acknowledge the fact that through the sacrifice of others, in terms of happiness and resources, am found and well-grounded
A true Jew’s life is entirely a continuous act of worship. “I keep the Lord always before me” (Psalms 16:8), which is inscribed on the front walls of the temple and also kept in their hearts. The devotional practices that I have strongly held to, are prayer times which have to be a minimum of three times a day; morning, afternoon, and evening. This in itself nourishes my life having no other secular life and my life been dictated by religious practices makes life very meaningful besides having money.
Hebrew teaches that human being as part of the creation is made in the image of him who created them. This helps me understand how special I am to God who owns everything and is his likeness that is I can do what he can accomplish with the help of the power he has released to me.
The Jews year commences from September to August, in it, there are several holidays. It starts with Rosh Hashanah (New Year) where the Jews commemorate the completion of the creation anniversary. Day of Atonement becomes second i.e. ten days after the New Year celebrations, which is characterized by fasting and prayers. It is referred to as the holiest day of the year. The feast of tabernacle follows which is eight days of festive harvest marked by thanksgiving. In the 1st century, it was considered the most important Jews festival. November or December 25 marks the Feast of Dedication. Jews bring to mind the warfare by the Maccabees in search of freedom (i.e. religious). Later follows the feasts of lots where they commemorate the Persian Jews slaughter preparation trounce by Queen Esther. April 15-22, is the well-known feast of Passover. It is in remembrance of the exodus of Israelites from slavery in Egypt. This feast is held at home. Lastly, we have the festive weeks commonly known as Pentecost, this is done in remembrance of God’s revelation of the Torah to us (Robinson, 1996).
Both the later Jewish tradition and the biblical authors have viewed the covenant of the Israelite as universal but something interesting is that they only had some successive failures. These collapses in establishing an agreement with the disobedient society led to God turning to a given section of people.
Comparison between Judaism and Christianity
Christianity originated from Judaism, it is said to have begun as a Jewish sect that adopted the Hebrew God, and scriptures of the Jews for Christians, the Old Testament. Christianity can be termed as a result of the Jews competing ideologies and consequently, most Jews have lived within the cultural confines of Christianity or Islam. These two religions have had a great impact on the resultant history of Judaism.
In both Christianity and Judaism, God is seemingly in terms of unison, transcendence, and character. In the opening scriptures in the book of Hebrews, God is presented as the creator which is impressive to the entire Jews converse about God. The whole idea of the world was created means it is not independent of God but it’s a product of his will. Both religions viewed God as merciful, just, righteous, and faithful though he had promised and threatened to be jealous and angry.
Christians believe in Christology; Jesus is a divine being. This brings tension with the monotheistic tradition of Judaism where Christ is a Prophet and God alone is divine. The solution to this tension was the development of the triune doctrine, the three ways of being of one God. Even though it was to ease the tension, the Jews are very strict on monotheists, to them God is a single, undivided entity. They do not believe in the trinity which is a single entity with three personalities (Robinson, 1995).
For those Christians who are conformists, belief is taken as principal whereas their actions have a propensity to deviate from the beliefs. For the Jews, on the other hand, actions and personalities are seen to be key values with belief coming out of actions. The Jews do not recognize the need for a savior and believe fulfilling commandments draws them closer to God.
In Judaism, there is no clear distinction between their spiritual and secular world. Their religious practices dictated the way of life for the people. There are no civic marriages and family problems are handled by religious courts. On the contrary the Christian world, spiritual matters are separate from the way of life of the Christians. They take the cultures of the tribes they originate from while the Jews only know their religious practices and adopt no other traditions.
There is a lot of similarity in the person of our God in Judaism and Christianity. They both believe that God exists, is one, and is unique. They hold strong on God being eternal and immaterial. To both religions, prayer is offered to God alone and no other. The Lord is omnipresent in that he is everywhere and understands the thoughts of man. The words of the Jewish prophets are believed and taken to be true according to Judaism but in Christianity, there are exceptional cases where prophets claim to be spoken to by angels but in the real sense they are false prophets thus in Christianity not every word coming out of a prophet is seen or taken to be true.
Judaism has been the oldest religion among the many we have can be identified with much of law-keeping. The relations between the two have been strained and the Christian scriptures can be interpreted as anti-Judaism. They claim that the Jews were responsible for the killing of God. There has been a lot of intra- religious friction throughout the literature of that era which is still remarkable today. Nevertheless, a good number of Christian denominations spread the teaching that those promises from God that were meant for the Jews have since been reassigned to the Christians. The claim has acted as a hindrance to evangelizing to the Jews. Nowadays, the association between the two religious groups has greatly improved and they are seen to relate well.
Robinson, B.A. (1995). Description of Judaism, Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Web.
Robinson, B. A. (1996). Jewish seasonal days of celebration and holy days, Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Web.
Robinson, B.A, (1997). Judaism: Weekly and ceremonial Sabbaths, Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Web.