Compare And Contrast Judaism And Islam 500-750 words, double spaced Do not use external sources 72 Copyright © 2017, 2014, 2011 by Pearson Education, In

Compare And Contrast Judaism And Islam 500-750 words, double spaced

Do not use external sources 72
Copyright © 2017, 2014, 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

Chapter 8 – Judaism

Learning Objectives
8.1 Contrast biblical Judaism with rabbinic Judaism.
8.2 Examine the role the European Enlightenment played in the development of Judaism.
8.3 Identify the key tenets of the Jewish faith.
8.4 Summarize the main sacred practices.
8.5 Describe the High Holy Days and key festivals in the Jewish calendar.
8.6 Differentiate between the major branches of contemporary Judaism.

Chapter Overview
Biblical and rabbinic Judaism

Biblical stories
Teaching Story: Abraham’s Willingness to Sacrifice Isaac
Ten Commandments

Return to Jerusalem
Rabbinic Judaism

Evolving Judaism
Kabbalah and Hasidism
Judaism and modernity
The Holocaust
Zionism and contemporary Israel

Religion in Public Life: Rabbi Michael Melchior

The one God
Love for God
The sacredness of human life

Living Judaism: An Interview with Eli Epstein
Suffering and faith

Sacred practices
Holy days
Contemporary Judaism

Major branches today
Jewish feminism

Religion in Practice: Inclusiveness
Jewish renewal

Key Points


x Judaism has no central leader or group making theological decisions.
x It may be defined as an ethnic group or as a religious group.
x In religious terms, Jews are those who understand their faith as an ongoing

dialogue with God, both in the past and in the present and into the future.

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x In a religious sense, the term “Israel” refers to all those who answer the call of
God and strive to live the teachings of the Torah; some Jews, however,
maintain a sense of ethnic identity as Jews but may not be involved in Jewish
religious practices.

x The Jews preserved memories of a homeland in the land of Israel and in exile.
x After the horrors of the Holocaust, some Jews lobbied for a Jewish State so that

Jews would not be persecuted any longer; it gave them the ability to resist anti-
Semitism and survive.

x Knowledge of Judaism is also essential to understanding the later development
of Christianity and Islam, both of which draw from Jewish tradition.

x Contemporary expressions of Judaism take many forms: Orthodox, Hasidic,
Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist branches.

8.1 Biblical and rabbinic Judaism

x The Jewish sense of history begins with the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. The
Hebrew Bible begins with a supreme deity’s creation of the world and details the
experiences of the patriarchs, matriarchs, Moses, and the prophets who brought
commandments from God to his people.

x This portion of Jewish history ended roughly at the end of the second century

x Jewish history continued with the temples in Jerusalem; after the destruction of
the Second Temple in 70 CE, the Jewish people dispersed, finding unity through
their teachings and traditional practices, which were eventually compiled into the

Biblical stories

x It is difficult to ascertain the historical accuracy of events detailed in the Tanakh.
x The Pentateuch, or “five books of Moses,” which appear at the beginning of the

Tanakh, is held to be the most sacred portion of the Tanakh.
x The traditionalist view is that these books were divinely revealed to Moses;

contemporary biblical researchers hypothesize that the books are reworked oral
traditions later set down by different sources.

x Some stories, such as the Great Flood, resemble earlier Mesopotamian legends.
x The Pentateuch seems to have assumed its final form in the days of Ezra the

Scribe in the fifth century BCE.
x Whatever approach one takes to the origin of these stories, they are spiritually

significant to both Judaism and Christianity.

Teaching Note: To illustrate a text-critical approach to the Hebrew Bible, ask
students to consider the text account of the two versions of the creation story in
Genesis. Students with a background in Judaism or Christianity may be familiar
with different ways of viewing these two passages.

x The theme of exile recurs throughout the Hebrew Bible. Jews are repeatedly

exiled from their homes because of God’s displeasure with their disobedience.
o Some Jews adapted an optimistic understanding of exile believing that the

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diaspora dispersed Jews throughout the land for a sacred purpose.
o Rabbinic Judaism, which began in the first century CE, emphasized that the

way out of exile was through study and righteous living.
x Also central is the concept of covenant, a contract between God and the people,

which was considered a “special” relationship and unique because they were
the one God’s only “chosen” people.
o In the Ancient Near East, every nation had a god with whom they had a

contract whereby both parties were held accountable.
o The stories of Noah and Abraham illustrate covenants, each with its own

x Scholarly debate continues over the question of early monotheism, that is,

whether the early patriarchs (and presumably matriarchs) were strictly
monotheistic. The neighboring Canaanites, who influenced the Israelites, were
polytheistic with an emphasis on ritual and myth rooted in agriculture.

x In time, the Israelites rejected the traditions of the people surrounding them and
saw themselves as having been chosen by a single divinity. This divinity may
have initially been understood as a private god and then later became known as
the sole, supreme universal deity.

x The Israelites were likely of mixed ethnic stock; scholars debate the origins of the
term “Hebrew.”

x The word “Semite” is a modern linguistic term applied to Jews, Arabs, and others
whose languages are classified as Semitic. It is inaccurate to use “Semite” as an
ethnic designation.

x The genealogies of the Pentateuch explain that the people called Israelites were
the descendants of the offspring of Jacob (and his wives).

x After wrestling with an angel of God, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel,
meaning “the one who struggled with God.”
o For the people of Israel, this theme of human struggle has allowed the

people to be reborn at a higher level of spirituality.
o The nation Israel—“the smallest of all peoples”—is perceived as being the

spiritual center of the world whereby one can go and grow toward God.
x Jacob, with his wives and his wives’ maidservants, had one daughter and twelve

sons. The twelve sons became the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.
x The whole group left for Egypt during a famine; the book of Exodus opens there

about four centuries later.
o The pharaoh persecuted the Israelites.
o Moses escaped the pharaoh’s order that all male boys born to Israeli women

be killed.
x The book of Exodus relates that Moses was chosen by God to lead the Israelites

out of Israel.
o God then led the Israelites to Mt. Sinai in order to reestablish the covenant.

x There, according to Exodus, God gave Moses a set of rules for the people that
included the Ten Commandments. He also gave Moses instructions for a portable
tabernacle with a holy ark, the Ark of the Covenant, where the people would keep
the stone tablets on which the commandments were inscribed.
o While Moses was receiving these instructions, the people reverted to

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idolatry; upon discovering this, Moses smashed the original stone tablets and
then got a new set after another forty-day meeting with God.

x Accepting the new laws brought a new dimension to the covenantal relationship.
x God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt; now they were to accept the

Torah, or the “five books of Moses.”
x The Hebrew Bible explains that the Israelites wandered through the desert for

forty years before being able to reenter the land earlier promised to them. This
began the wilderness tradition, which becomes a familiar metaphor in the
Hebrew text.

x The entry to the promised land is remembered differently in two biblical books:
Joshua and Judges.

x Archeological evidence indicates that between the thirteenth and eleventh
centuries BCE, major military conflicts existed on the land.

x Israel’s second King, David, is remembered to be their greatest king who united
the kingdoms.

x Under the reign of King Solomon, David’s son and successor, a Temple was built
in Jerusalem to house the Ark of the Covenant and serve as a place for making
burned offerings of animals, grains, and oil to God.

x After a long period of wandering, Judaism had a central location. But Solomon
became very wealthy and built altars to the gods of his wives.

x After Solomon’s death, the kingdom was divided into Israel and Judah.
x Under these circumstances, prophets—men and women who underwent

transformational ordeals that made them instruments for the word of God—began
to exhort the people.
o The early prophets warned against idolatry; later prophets cautioned that

social injustice and moral corruption would signal the end of the Jewish state.
x During the eighth century, the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by

Assyria and the Israelites were taken into exile among the Gentiles or non-Jewish
o Most of the Israelites lost their distinct identity and came to be known as the

“Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.” In 586 BCE, the Babylonians conquered
Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.

o Many Judeans were taken into exile in Babylonia, where they were called
“Jews” because they were from Judah.

o The prophets interpreted these events as God’s retribution for the people’s
wicked ways. Nonetheless, the Jewish people sought to maintain their faith,
and prophets prophesied that God would bring a new era of justice and peace.

Return to Jerusalem

x After fifty years in exile, only a small number of Jews returned to Jerusalem; the
remaining Jewish people were said to be living in the diaspora (from the Greek
word for “disperse”).

x The Persian king Cyrus authorized the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, and
it was completed in 515 BCE.

x A hereditary priesthood focused on temple rituals and the redaction of the stories
of the Jewish people.

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x The Torah now became the spiritual and secular foundation of the dispersed
Jewish people.

x In the diaspora, Jews may have adopted concepts from other traditions such as
that of Satan, the hierarchy of angels, resurrection, and an afterlife (perhaps from
the Zoroastrianism of the Persian Empire).
o Not all Jews accepted these beliefs.
o Ideas from rationalistic, humanistic Hellenism introduced by Alexander the

Great also affected some Jews.
x In the second century BCE, a Hellenistic ruler of Syria (Antiochus IV Epiphanes)

sought to impose Hellenistic practices on all his subjects, including the Jews,
which led to the Maccabean rebellion.
o The successful rebellion led by the Hasmon family of priests established an

independent kingdom called Israel, centered around Jerusalem, which lasted
until 63 BCE, when it was conquered by a Roman general.

o It was the last independent Jewish nation until the twentieth century.
x Three sects formed under the Hasmonean king:

o Sadducees (priests and wealthy businesspeople, intent on the letter of the law)
o The Pharisees (who sought to study applications of Torah to everyday life)
o The Essenes (considered the priesthood corrupt; a similar or related group

retreated to Qumran and developed library now known as Dead Sea Scrolls).
Scholars are still studying the Dead Sea Scrolls for information about the
period between biblical and rabbinic Judaism.

x After the Romans took over in 63 BCE, Jews began to express belief in a
messianic age in which the Jews would be able to return to their homeland. This
belief was bolstered by the words of some of the earlier prophets.

x Prior to this, apocalyptic literature, which views the world in stark terms of good
and evil and foresees God’s victory over evil, became popular.

x Some Jews concluded that a Messiah would come to bring evil to an end and
establish peace.

x In 66 CE, led by the anti-Roman Zealots, Jews rebelled against Rome.
x In 70 CE, the Roman legions destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. Only the

Western Wall remains to this day.
x A second ill-fated revolt in 132 CE lead to the destruction of all Judean towns,

and remaining Jews were forbidden to engage in their traditional practices, such
as reading the Torah, observing the Sabbath, and circumcising their sons.

Rabbinic Judaism

x The Jewish people scattered throughout the Mediterranean and western Asia.
x The inheritors of the Pharisee tradition, the rabbis, established new Jewish

x Liturgical prayer and ethical behavior substituted for temple rituals.
x People met in synagogues (meeting places) to worship and read the Torah.
x A minyan, or quorum of ten adult males, was required for community worship.
x Torah study became increasingly important for many men; women were

excluded from such study, their responsibilities understood to be in the home.

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x The interpretation of the Torah gave unity to the Jewish people.
x The rabbis’ study, called Midrash, brought about two types of interpretation:

halakhah (proper conduct) and haggadah (folklore, historical/sociological
knowledge, etc.).

x The literature of the Midrash process came to be known as the oral Torah.
x In 200 CE, Judah the Prince produced an edition of the legal teaching of the oral

Torah called Mishnah.
o The Mishnah includes directives about the role of women.
o Later, the Mishnah and commentaries on it were organized into the Talmud

(of which there were two authorized versions, Jerusalem and Babylonian;
each contained the same Mishnah but had differing Gemara or additional
� The Talmud preserves multiple, sometimes varying interpretations of

religious questions.
x The ongoing process of exegesis provides a means of introducing new ideas

into Judaism—such as the concept of the soul and the concept of Shekhinah
(a feminine noun), God’s presence in the world.

x Prayers that are still used to day replaced animal sacrifices of the Temple.
x The Kaddish, exaltation of God’s name recited repeatedly in Jewish prayer

services is preserved in the language of Babylonia—Aramaic.
x Rabbinic Judaism and institutional Christianity were developing in the same


8.2 Evolving Judaism

x During the early centuries of the Common Era, the Jewish population in Israel
declined and settled in other areas of the Roman Empire or among Zoroastrian
Persians in Mesopotamia. Babylon became the major center of Jewish intellectual
activity, until about the tenth century.

x Rabbinic study continued throughout the diaspora even after the Talmud was
o “Responsa” literature records rabbinic answers to legal questions.

x Jews typically fared well under Islamic rule. Known as “People of the Book,”
they were allowed to maintain their religious traditions as long as they paid a
substantial head tax.
o Under the Abbasid Empire, they were concentrated around the city of

o They were known as prosperous merchants, professionals, and craftsmen.
o In the Middle Ages, Jews played a significant role in international trade

because of the mastery of languages and were hospitable to people of
other faith traditions.

o Jews living in Muslim countries benefited from a climate of cultural
creativity and tolerance.

x There were times that Muslim rulers were not tolerant and Jews were forced
to flee to other territories. An example of this is Maimonides, who, noted for
his synthesis between reason and faith, fled his native Spain and settled in

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x There was less intellectual vibrancy in Christian lands during the Middle Ages,
and in the later Middle Ages, Jews were expelled from many of the countries in
which they had long resided.

x Christian prejudice against Jews was intense and driven by hatred for the Jews
because they had not accepted Jesus as the messiah.

x Beginning in 1095, Jews were targeted during the Crusades.
x In the twelfth century, strange rumors (ritual murder of Christians; stealing and

torturing the consecrated bread used for Christian communion; responsible for the
plague) were spread about the Jews as well.

x In the sixteenth century, Jews in some Italian and German cities were forced to
live in Jewish-only ghettos.

x Poland, meanwhile, became a haven for Jews expelled from western Europe, and
Jews there developed new forms of literature in Yiddish, a distinctive Jewish
language based on medieval German.

x Eventually, Jews came under attack in Poland as well after a revolt against Polish

x In the face of persecution, many Jews longed for a messiah to save them, and
“pseudo-Messiahs” such as Shabbetai Tzevi appeared to take advantage of this
dream. However, upon entering the Ottoman Empire and facing death, Tzevi
chose to convert to Islam and was given a government position, which shocked
his followers.

Kabbalah and Hasidism

x Mystical trends have always been part of Judaism; mystical traditions known as
Kabbalah were put into writing in the Middle Ages.

x Mystical concepts such as tikkun olam (repairing the world), developed by the
sixteenth century mystic Isaac Luria, remain central to Jewish thought.

x In eighteenth-century Poland and Ukraine, the ecstatic path of piety known as
Hasidism developed.

x The Baal Shem Tov offered joyous worship over academic Torah debates,
urging his followers to find God in everyday life.

x Hasidism claimed approximately half of eastern Europe’s Jews.
x Dov Ber emphasized the importance of the tzaddik (enlightened saint and

teacher) called a rebbe or Reb, when ordained as a Hasidic spiritual guide. This
later became a hereditary position.

x This stirred opposition from non-Hasidic leaders, who believe that each Jew
should be his or her own tzaddik.

Judaism and modernity

x Most Jews lived in eastern Europe during the time of the Enlightenment, but in
western Europe, the Enlightenment values of tolerance and reason over tradition
and authority led to lessening of restrictions on Jews.

x Moses Mendelssohn, an eighteenth-century German Jew and “father of the
Haskalah (reason),” adopted the Enlightenment ideal of the universalism of
humanity, and sought to integrate Jews more fully into European culture while

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deemphasizing the Talmud.
x Critics of this trend, such as Moses Sofer, argued that Jews must maintain their

traditional rituals and segregate themselves from non-Jewish secular culture.
This position came to be known as Orthodox Judaism.

x Meanwhile, those inspired by thinkers such as Mendelssohn spawned what
became known as Reform Judaism, which revised traditional references to a
return to Israel, changed some liturgies from Hebrew to the vernacular and
envisioned Judaism as changing with the times, its followers loyal citizens of the
nations in which they lived.

x In the mid-nineteenth century, Jews began immigrating to the United States.
Today the United States has the largest Jewish population of the world; it is a
highly diverse population.

The Holocaust

x The Holocaust is, for many Jews, the defining event of the twentieth century.
x Centuries of anti-Semitism in various forms (such as pogroms in nineteenth-

century eastern Europe and Russia) came to horrible fruition in the murder of
nearly six million European Jews under Nazi leadership, half the Jewish
population of Europe, and more than a third of the world’s Jewish population.

x The Nazis sought the “Final Solution” or total extermination of all the Jews in

x Although some governments and individuals sought to protect Jews, many
historians believe that free Allied countries should have offered greater
resistance to Hitler’s genocidal actions.

x The Holocaust presents a daunting theological challenge to Jewish thinkers, for
how could a caring God have allowed the Holocaust to happen? Elie Wiesel
questioned how anyone could bless such a god and has sought to bring
attention to genocidal actions taken against other minority groups.

Zionism and contemporary Israel

x Zionism, which has deep roots in Jewish tradition, is a movement dedicated to
establishing a Jewish state in the biblical land of Israel.

x Political Zionism, led by journalist Theodor Herzl, developed in reaction to late
nineteenth-century European anti-Semitism.

x The 1917 Balfour Declaration stated Britain’s support for limited Jewish
settlement in Palestine at the end of World War I.

x Most Reform Jews did not initially support the Zionist movement and believed it
to be their mission to live among the Gentiles.

x A 1947 United Nations decision partitioned Palestine into two areas, one
governed by Jews, the other by Arabs, with Jerusalem an international zone.

x In 1948, Israel declared itself an independent state and soon came under attack.
x Conflict with neighboring countries has continued (e.g., the 1967 Six-Day War;

1973 attack by Egypt and Syria); conflict with Palestinians is especially acute.
x There are tensions within Jewish Israel due to the diverse origins of the


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x Some ultra-Orthodox leaders reject converts to Conservative and Reform
Judaism; there are differing views about the Palestinian situation as well.

x The 1950 Law of Return grants automatic Israeli citizenship to any Jew, and
immigration continues.

8.3 Torah

x Despite changes in Judaism over time, major themes of history and literature
may be identified. Jewish teachings are known as Torah and can be interpreted
in different ways:
o In the narrowest sense of the term, Torah (teaching) refers to the “five

books of Moses.”
o On the next level, Torah can mean the entire Hebrew Bible and Talmud, the

written and oral law.
o For some, Torah can refer to all sacred Jewish literature and observance.
o At the highest level, Torah is God’s will and wisdom.

The one God

x Monotheism is the central Jewish belief: there is one creator God, the “cause of
all existent things.”

x The metaphysical understanding of God’s oneness is difficult to explain due to the
constructs and limitation of language.

x Traditionally, God is perceived as a loving father who is infinitely majestic, who
will sometimes reveal divine power when his children need chastising.

Love for God

x Humans must love God, an essential commandment that is emphasized in prayers
and religious services.

x Central recitation during a religious service and the inscription on the mezuzah at
the doorpost recites Shema Israel.

x Maimonides asserted primacy for the love of God but emphasized that this love
should not come from fear. One should study Torah and fulfill God’s
commandments out of love.

The sacredness of human life

x Humans are created in God’s image (though this is typically not
interpreted anthropomorphically).

x People are potentially equal and perfectible; there is no elevation between

x God is limited because humanity has free will.
x Life is sacred.
x Sexuality is holy within marriage.
x The body is honored as an instrument through which the soul is

manifested on earth; some believe that body and soul are an inseparable

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x Acting in accord with Torah is the means to upholding humans’ part of

the covenant with God.
x Rabbinic literature indicates that there are 613 mitzvot (commandments;

singular mitzvah), ranging from ethical guidelines to civil matters such
as inheritance and family law. They are found in:

o The Book of Leviticus contains ethical guidelines called the Ten

o The Book of Genesis sets forth the Noahide Code of seven universal
principles for a moral and spiritual life, prohibiting idolatry,
blasphemy, murder, theft, sexual behaviors outside marriage, and
cruelty to animals, and affirming the rule of law and justice in society.

o The Talmud with its commentaries serve as the blueprint for Jewish
social, communal, and religious life.

Suffering and faith

x If God is all-powerful and rewards the righteous, then why do the innocent

x The parable of Job suggests that God’s wisdom is beyond human

8.4 Sacred practices

x Daily scriptural study has been a major practice for males since the rabbinic

x God is to be remembered in all aspects of life.
x Ritual male circumcision (brit milah) traditionally occurs on the eighth day of

x Orthodox Jews consider menstruating women unclean; seven days after their

menstrual periods end they immerse themselves in the bath known as a mikveh.
x Maintaining pure lines of descent is important; marital sexuality is sacred, but

adultery is strictly prohibited.
x Dietary practices are also part of Jewish tradition; the Book of Leviticus defines

ritually acceptable or kosher foods. Dietary rules, if strictly followed, are meant
to provide a feeling of sacred identity and community that links a Jew to the
eternal authority of Torah.

x Traditional Jews may begin each day with a prayer; male Jews wear a prayer cloth
(tallit katan) and tefillin (phylacteries) on the forehead and upper arm.

x There is a traditional prayer schedule for men; women are excused from this
schedule due to their household responsibilities.

x Various blessings allow one to thank God for all manner of occurrences.
x The Sabbath is observed from sunset Friday night to sunset Saturday night.

o Traditionally, no work is done on the Sabbath.
o Families may attend Sabbath services and begin the Sabbath with a special

Friday night dinner.
o Sabbath services vary in different forms of Judaism; Hasidic services may

focus on intense prayer or davening.

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x Jewish boys celebrate their coming of age at thirteen with the ritual known as the
Bar Mitzvah (son of the commandment). In non-Orthodox congregations, girls
may now celebrate a similar ritual called the Bat Mitzvah.

8.5 Holy days

x According to the Jewish lunar calendar, the year begins with the High Holy
Days of Rosh Hashanah (New Year’s Day), the ten Days of Awe, and Yom
Kippur (atonement and cleansing).

x Sukkot is a fall harvest festival where a simple outdoor booth (sukkah) is built
and decorated as a dwelling place for seven days. Some contemporary Jews will
live in the sukkah. The fragile hoe reminds the faithful that in God is their real

x After the seven-day Sukkot festival comes Simhat Torah (joy in Torah),
commemorating the end of the yearly cycle of Torah readings.

x Near the winter solstice, the darkest time of year, is Hanukkah, a celebration of
the Maccabean rebellion and the purification of the Temple.

x Tu B’shvat celebrates the reawakening of nature at the end of Israel’s winter rainy

x On the full moon of the month before spring begins is Purim, commemorating the
legend of Esther.

x Later in spring comes Pesach or Passover, celebrating the liberation from bondage
in Egypt.
o Pesach is marked by the Seder dinner.
o In contemporary Judaism, various movements for liturgical renewal have

produced special Passover liturgies for feminists, secular Zionists, and
interfaith celebrations.

x Some also celebrate a new holy day termed Holocaust Memorial Day. In Israel, a
countrywide minute of silence is observed whereby secular and religious Jews
remember the Holocaust together.

x Shavuot in early summer marks Moses’ receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai.
x After Shavuot, there are three weeks of mourning for the Temples of Jerusalem

(Tisha Be-av); this is one of the saddest times for Jews.

8.6 Contemporary Judaism

x There are many different contemporary Jewish groups, with differences
centering on issues such as adherence to the Torah and Talmud, conversion,
use of Hebrew, and women’s participation.

Major branches today

x There are three major ethnic groupings within contemporary Judaism:
o Descendants of the …

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