Among the main reasons that decided me to approach this topic, it is because I have always been passionate about knowing, studying and investigating the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Perhaps because my ancestors were Jews converted to Christianity, I was born in a country (Iraq), with a Muslim majority. Also, the fact that there are so many religions in a world that have been shrunken by the speed of travel and communication makes people from all over the planet feel the impact of different beliefs, like it or not.
With the passage of time, my great bewilderment, was at a conference in Madrid, under the heading “The Arab-Israeli conflict”, intervening, with a “Jewish teacher”, who began his speech saying that he is Jewish, but is an atheist, who does not believe in God or in Jewish history and even less in Zionism and the State of Israel. My intervention was very clean and clear, responding directly to the colleague “Jewish teacher”, saying: “Judaism is a monotheistic religion gets its dogmas and rules, mainly, believe and love Yahweh the only true God, you do not believe in God nor in Yahweh, presuming atheist. Therefore, you can present yourself as a Hebrew or Israelite of race or ethnicity, you can not look like a Jew because a Jew and an atheist are incompatible concepts. The truth is that unfortunately many people like you do not know how to differentiate between the following terms; Hebrew and Israelite as a race, Judaism as Faith, Zionism as a social-political movement. ”
Some may ask: Why should we be interested in Judaism if the Jews are such a small minority, some 15,000,000 in a world where there are more than 5,000 million people? It is true that Jews are a minority in a very large world, but Judaism is the kiss of all monotheistic religions. Judaism has roots about 5,000 years old, knowing Judaism is part of knowing Christianity. The 2/3 of the Koran, the sacred book of Islam, are Biblical stories collected from the Tanach (Old Testament). Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, rooted in Abraham and consider him as a friend of God and the father of the Prophets. In this way, the three religions mentioned above share or have a common history.
In general, knowing the past, history serves to live the present and pose the future. The Sacred Scriptures of the Jewish people are an essential part and are present in many ways in the Christian Bible. Without the Old Testament, the New Testament would be an indecipherable book, a plant deprived of its roots and destined to dry up. The New Testament recognizes the divine authority of the Sacred Scriptures of the Jewish people, rests on that authority and when it speaks of the Scriptures or of what is written, it refers to the Holy Scriptures of the Jewish people. The New Testament affirms that these Scriptures must necessarily be fulfilled since they define the design of God, which can not fail to be realized, whatever the obstacles he may encounter and the human resistances that oppose him. All this unites Christians closely with the Jewish people, since the first mandate of the fulfillment of the Scriptures is that of conformity and continuity. This aspect is fundamental.
The Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Persians rose, filled the planet with noise and splendor, and then vanished and disappeared; the Greeks and the Romans followed, made a great deal of noise, and are no longer there; other peoples have sprung up and kept their fire for a time, but it was consumed and now they are in darkness or have disappeared. The Jew saw them all, he defeated them all and it is still the same as it always was, without exhibiting decay, or due to age, or weakening of its parts, or diminishing of its energies, or obstruction of its liveliness or its aggressive mind. All things are mortal except for the Jew; all forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?
The Jewish people are truly incredible. The proportion of Nobel Prizes that have been awarded to Jewish people is 100 times greater than the proportion of Jews in the world. In every part of the world, there are Jewish leaders in business, art, politics, and science. And when in human history has a small country achieved as much as Israel has in its short life?
But who are the Jews really? Many definitions have been tried: a nation, a people, a race, a religious group, an international pressure group … etc. The Jews themselves do not find a unanimous description.
Judaism is undoubtedly Education and Transmission. He is a pioneer in monotheism and has fought against powerful empires as well as attractive ideologies, remaining united and faithful to his principles.
Judaism believes in the Freedom of the individual and is based on the fact that the Creator allows us Free will. Everything is not predetermined. We own our actions and our omissions.
Judaism combines faith with great wisdom and at the same time Reason without excluding any. The Jewish People have a totally abstract vision of God but their Biblical account is full of details of cities, names and very earthly rituals, almost as leaving a map of evidence for the future for the unbelievers.
Judaism is Religion, People, and civilization at the same time. These People always open to debate is composed of different races and ethnic and religious, agnostic and even some who call themselves atheists.
Judaism does and demands to be coherent and correct in all aspects of life. That is why there are precepts that legislate in the commercial field (for example: do not cheat), commandments that concern family life (for example, love and respect for parents), sentimentally (love your neighbor).
Judaism is not just another aspect of life, as well as the emotional, work, family, religious, etc., but it covers all aspects together.
Judaism is a philosophy of life. It is the goal of life. It is to develop human potential and what makes us human. It is to be fully aware of reality, but not to live divorced from the spiritual. It is to accept our weaknesses for which we were cast by God from the Garden of Eden, but not for that reason to throw God out of our lives. It is to assume a position committed to the scale of values. It is to give the body what is of the body without thereby burying the soul. Judaism is a set of basic ideas. It is a discipline and overcoming the soul and the body. It is the instruction manual to achieve maximum improvement, in all aspects of life and to do the right thing.
Judaism refers to God as the “Heavenly Father”. Just as our parents want us to have all that is good, God wants the same for us: Let us get as much pleasure as possible! The Jewish Scriptures contain the instructions for life. The latest technology devices come with large instruction manuals without which we could not take advantage of their full potential. Life is much more complicated than that, and if we want to get the most out of it, a set of instructions can certainly make a difference. For Judaism, the Tanach or the Jewish Bible sets the course for man, it is his north and compass, it is the word of God, it is the counsel of the Creator, it is the whisper of the Heavenly Father, it is the instruction manual. God, the Creator of man, gives us the instructions to know how this world works and how to use it in the best possible way. The Tanach or the Jewish Bible is a guide to ethical conduct, but then comes the difficult part: the application of these moral principles and living according to them on a day-to-day basis.
Judaism begins with the premise that every human being is created in the image of God. Now, with such a high starting point, self-respect is a birth command of every human being. The commandments (mitzvot) in Judaism guide the human being, on how to treat other people, and are based on the recognition that man has dignity and essential value regardless of whether he has achieved something relevant or not. In Judaism what matters is the effort and not the achievement in itself, since the final result is in the hands of God anyway.
Judaism is not all or nothing. Many people think that if the Jew does not do everything that Judaism demands, then it does not make any sense to remain a Jew. It is not true because if only one part of a commandment is made, the life of a Jew is enriched forever.
Judaism is a process, a path, on which each step counts. Anything that can be done is great! Can you know who the good Jew is? The Talmud says: “Nobody knows whose blood is redder”. No one can judge the value of another person because no one knows where the other person is on the ladder of life: where he started and how many steps he has climbed. The best policy for a Jew is to stop judging others and instead begin to respect each other.
Judaism has had a long and varied history. Its concepts and formative principles were developed during the biblical period. Towards century II C. a consensus on the rabbinical tradition was developed, that became the base of the law and the following beliefs. The Middle Ages witnessed the advent of the serious discussion of Jewish theology and philosophy. This combination of law and theology not expressed in words determined the character of Judaism and the Jewish people who would face the tide of modernization. While this confrontation weakened the faith of some in the tradition, it strengthened that of others. For others, it radically transformed the meaning of tradition. But the years of independence and the Enlightenment were clouded by the tragic destruction of one in three Jews in the hands of the Nazis. However, as if his intention was to snatch the victory of the Nazis and revive the spirit and body of the Jewish people from the ashes of the Holocaust, it produced the greatest triumph of this people. After 2,000 years, he was finally able to return the village to his home and to establish the Jewish State in Israel. There as in the Diaspora, the history of Judaism based on the multimillion-dollar tradition continues, but with great strength and willingness to adapt to changing circumstances and with hope and faith in the future. The fundamental doctrine of Judaism as a religion has been generally identified with its monotheism and a particular conception of history that derives from it. God is conceived as omnipotent, creator of the universe, whose action in the world has a plan of salvation: the action of Israel, the chosen people, to be an example for all humanity.
Judaism is the history of the Hebrew people (or people of Israel) as a whole, from its beginnings in the biblical period to today, in its diverse historical, religious and cultural forms of said people.
Judaism is not only a religious system but has a vital element, which allows the Jewish people to maintain and renew themselves continuously, adapting to political, social and cultural situations, with the risk of assimilation to dominant cultural models and loss of their own identity. From the destruction of the first Temple of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and the expulsion of the Jews from the land of Israel by the Romans, at that precise critical moment in Jewish history, a group of Jews called “Prushim or Pharisees” emerged. Rabbis, who were responsible for the survival of Judaism to the present day by replacing the central power of the hereditary priestly lineage with the knowledge of the Jewish Law that has since acquired the value of normative Judaism
Judaism teaches being responsible in the world. The Talmud says that each person should feel that “the world was created personally for me and it is up to me to take care of it”. I urge you through this book “All about Judaism” to remember the divine mandate to respect difference and to know and love your neighbor.
Photo Credit: Raad Salam Naam