The people of Israel have always aroused the envy, hatred and admiration of the Europeans. Even having lost their state and forced to wander for nearly two thousand years, its representatives did not assimilate among other ethnic groups, but retained their national identity and culture based on a deep religious tradition. What is the faith of the Jews? Indeed, thanks to her, they survived many powers, empires and entire nations. They went through everything - power and slavery, periods of peace and discord, social well-being and genocide. The religion of the Jews is Judaism, and it is thanks to it that they still play an important role in the historical scene.
Yahweh's first revelation
The religious tradition of the Jews is monotheistic, that is, it recognizes only one god. His name is Yahweh, which literally means "he who was, is and will be."
Today, Jews believe that Yahweh is the creator and creator of the world, and they consider all other gods to be false. According to their creed, after the fall of the first people, the sons of man forgot the true god and began to serve idols. To remind people of himself, Yahweh called for a prophet named Abraham, whom he predicted to become the father of many nations. Abraham, who came from a pagan family, received the revelation of the Lord, renounced the old cults and went on a pilgrimage, led from above.
The Torah, the Holy Scriptures of the Hebrews, tells of how God tested the faith of Abraham. When a son was born to him from his beloved wife, the Lord ordered him to be sacrificed, to which Abraham responded with unquestioning obedience. When he had already brought a knife over his child, God stopped him, regarding such humility as deep faith and devotion. Therefore, today, when the Jews are asked what kind of faith the Jews have, they answer: "Faith of Abraham."
According to the Torah, God fulfilled his promise and from Abraham through Isaac produced a large Jewish people, also known by the name of Israel.
The origin of Judaism
The veneration of Yahweh by the first descendants of Abraham was not, in fact, Judaism or even monotheism in the strict sense of the word. In fact, the gods of the biblical religion of the Jews are numerous. What distinguished Jews from other pagans was their reluctance to worship any other gods (but, unlike monotheism, they recognized their existence), as well as a ban on religious images. Much later than the time of Abraham, when his descendants had already multiplied to the scale of a whole nation, and Judaism took shape as such. This is briefly described in the Torah.
By fate, the Jewish people fell into slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, most of whom treated him quite badly. To free his chosen ones, God called a new prophet - Moses, who, being a Jew, was brought up at the royal court. After performing a series of miracles known as the Egyptian executions, Moses led the Jews into the wilderness, and then brought them to the promised land. During this journey on Mount Sinai, Moses received the first commandments and other instructions regarding the organization and practice of the cult. This is how the formalized Jewish faith, Judaism, arose.
While in Sinai, Moses, among other revelations, received from God the guidance on the construction of the Tabernacle Tabernacle - a portable temple designed to offer sacrifices and other religious rites. When the years of wandering through the desert ended, the Jews entered the promised land and established their statehood on its expanses, King David set out to replace the tabernacle with a full-fledged stone temple. God, however, did not approve of David's enthusiasm, and his son Solomon entrusted the mission of building a new sanctuary. Solomon, becoming king, began to fulfill the divine command and rebuilt an impressive temple on one of the hills of Jerusalem. According to tradition, this temple stood for 410 years, until in 586 the Babylonians destroyed it.
The temple was for the Jews a national symbol, a banner of unity, fortitude and the physical guarantor of divine protection. When the temple was destroyed and the Jews captured for 70 years, the faith of Israel shook. Many began to worship pagan idols again, and the people were threatened with dissolution among other tribes. But there were also zealous supporters of paternal traditions, who advocated the preservation of previous religious traditions and social structure. When in 516, Jews were given the opportunity to return to their native lands and rebuild the temple, this group of enthusiasts led the process of reviving Israeli statehood. The temple was restored, divine services and sacrifices began to be held again, and along the way, the Jewish religion itself took on a new face: the scripture was codified, many customs were streamlined, and an official doctrine took shape. Over time, several faiths arose among the Jews, differing in their doctrinal and ethical views. However, their spiritual and political unity provided a common temple and worship. The era of the second temple lasted until 70 A.D. e.
Judaism after 70 AD e.
In 70 g. e., during the fighting during the Judean War, the military leader Titus began to besiege, and subsequently destroyed Jerusalem. Among the affected buildings was a Jewish temple, which was completely destroyed. Since then, Jews have been forced, based on historical conditions, to modify Judaism. Briefly, these changes affected the creed, but mainly concerned with subordination: the Jews ceased to submit to priestly authority. After the destruction of the temple, there were no priests at all, and the role of spiritual leaders was taken by the rabbis, the teachers of the law were lay people with high social status among the Jews. From that time to the present day, Judaism is represented only in such a rabbinical form. The role of synagogues, the local centers of Jewish culture and spirituality, came first. Liturgies are held in synagogues, scripture is read, sermons are delivered, and important ceremonies are performed. Yeshivas are arranged at them - specialized schools for the study of Judaism, the Jewish language and culture.
It is important to keep in mind that together with the temple in 70 AD e. Jews lost their statehood. They were forbidden to live in Jerusalem, as a result they were scattered throughout other cities of the Roman Empire. Since then, Jewish diasporas are present in almost every country on all continents. Surprisingly, they were quite resistant to assimilation and were able to carry their identity through the centuries, no matter what. Nevertheless, one must remember that over time, Judaism has changed, evolved and developed, therefore, when answering the question “What religion does the Jews have?”, It is necessary to correct for the historical period, for Judaism is 1st century BC. e. and Judaism of the 15th century AD e., for example, is not the same thing.
Creed of judaism
As already mentioned, the doctrine of Judaism, at least modern, is classified as monotheism: both religious scholars and the Jews themselves insist on this. The faith of the confession of the Jews consists in the recognition of Yahweh as the only god and creator of all things. At the same time, the Jews themselves see themselves as a special chosen people, the children of Abraham, on whom a special mission lies.
At some point in time, most likely in the era of Babylonian captivity and the second temple, Judaism adopted the concept of the resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment. Along with this, ideas appeared about angels and demons - the personified forces of good and evil. Both of these doctrines come from Zoroastrianism and, most likely, it was through contacts with Babylon that the Jews integrated these teachings into their cult.
Religious values of Judaism
Speaking of Jewish spirituality, it can be argued that Judaism is a religion, briefly characterized as a cult of traditions. In fact, traditions, even the most minor ones, are of great importance in Judaism, and severe punishment is imposed for their violation.
The most important of these traditions is the custom of circumcision, without which a Jew cannot be considered a full-fledged representative of his people. Circumcision is done as a sign of the Covenant between the chosen people and Yahweh.
Another important feature of the Jewish way of life is strict observance of the Sabbath. Saturday is endowed with utter holiness: any work, even the simplest, such as cooking, is forbidden. Also on Saturday you can’t just have fun - this day is intended only for rest and spiritual exercises.
Some people believe that Judaism is a world religion. But actually it is not. Firstly, because Judaism is for the most part a national cult, the path in which for non-Jews is rather difficult, and secondly, the number of its followers is too small to speak of it as a world religion. However, Judaism is a religion with worldwide influence. Two world religions emerged from the bosom of Judaism - Christianity and Islam. And the numerous Jewish communities scattered around the world have always had one or another influence on the culture and life of the local population.
However, it is important that Judaism itself is heterogeneous today and therefore, when answering the question of what kind of religion the Jews have, it is also necessary to clarify its course in each case. There are several such internal Jewish groups. The main ones are represented by the orthodox wing, the Hasidic movement and the reform Jews. There are also progressive Judaism and a small group of Messianic Jews. However, the Jewish community expels the latter from the Jewish community.
Judaism and Islam
Speaking about the attitude of Islam to Judaism, it is necessary, firstly, to note that Muslims also consider themselves children of Abraham, although not from Isaac. Secondly, Jews are considered the people of the book and the bearers of divine revelation, albeit outdated, from the point of view of Muslims. Reflecting on what kind of faith the Jews have, adherents of Islam recognize the fact of worship of the same god. Thirdly, the historical relations between Jews and Muslims have always been ambiguous and require a separate analysis. The important thing is that in the field of theory there is much in common between them.
Judaism and Christianity
Relations with Christians have always been difficult for Jews. Both sides did not like each other, which often led to conflicts and even bloodshed. Today, however, the relationship between the two Abrahamic religions is gradually improving, although it is still far from ideal. Jews have a good historical memory and remember Christians as oppressors and persecutors for one and a half thousand years. For their part, Christians blame the crucifixion of Christ to the Jews and associate all their historical hardships with this sin.
In a short article it is impossible to comprehensively consider the topic of what kind of faith the Jews have in theory, in practice and in relations with adherents of other cults. Therefore, I want to believe that this short review will lead to a further, deeper study of the traditions of Judaism.