Depth Study: Judaism

The Life of Abraham Students learn to outline the life of Abraham
Key Questions:

  • Who was the first Jewish patriarch?
  • Where is Abraham's story found?
  • What three promises were made to Abraham?
  • Who was in Abraham's family?
  • Who did Abraham sacrifice? Why?
  • Why is Abraham a model for Jewish life?
Notes:

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  • Abraham, initially Abram, was the first Jewish Patriarch. God promised Him that he would be the Father of a great people if he followed God's directions
    • Abraham rejected paganism and was the first person to recognise a single God. As such, the Hebrews were distinguished by their faith in One God and their confidence in the Covenant between Jews and God
  • Abraham's story is found in Genesis. God ordered him to leave his home (Ur in Mesopotamia) and travelled to Haran “Leave your country, your relatives and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you” (Gen 12:1)
  • It was here that God made the covenant with Abraham. The covenant was based on three promises
    • Promise of a relationship with God
    • Promise of numerous descendants
    • Promise of land
  • God promised Abraham to be the father of a great people, with his descendants being God's people. In return, God would provide protection and guidance and give them the land of Israel. “ancestor of a multitude of nations” (Gen17:5).
  • Abraham had a son, Ishmael, with his wife's servant at 86. He had a son with his wife Sarah when he was 100 years old and called him Isaac.
    • Abraham expelled Ishmael from his house
  • God instructed Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham obliged, highlighting his devotion and love for God. At the last second, God told him to sacrifice an animal instead
  • Abraham, therefore is a model of Jewish life - his example is one of faith, integrity and compassion
  • Abraham is the founder of three world religions - Islam, Judaism and Christianity, of which Judaism is the mother-faith.
    • All three date back to Abraham, who discovered the one true God
  • The Covenant was later reaffirmed at Mount Sinai through the giving of the Decalogue, revealing the way in which to act and serve God
Summary : Abraham was the first patriarch of the Jewish people. He made a covenant with God that, in return for his obedience to God's teachings, God would grant him descendants, land and a relationship with Him. So great was Abraham's love for God that, when directed, he was willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, in accordance with God's will. Abraham is the father of the three Abrahamic religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism and is a model of Jewish life, as he sets an example of faith, integrity, compassion and bold loyalty to God, the sole creator.
Covenant with the Patriarchs (Promise of a People/Land) Describe the Covenant with the Patriarchs, including the promise of a People and a Land
Key Questions:

  • What is the Covenant with the Patriarchs?
  • What is the significance of the covenant for Jews?
Notes:

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  • This covenant is believed to exist between God and Jewish people from the time of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his 12 sons)
  • The covenant details God's promise of land and protection of Israel's children if they honoured and respected him (observed in Genesis 12:1-13
Summary : The Covenant with the Patriarchs was made between God and Abraham and was transferred down the Abrahamic line, where it still exists today. The Covenant details God's promise of land and protection if the Israelites obey His will.
The Exodus, Moses & Giving of the Torah Outline the story of the Exodus and the giving of the Law at Sinai, including the 10 Commandments
Key Questions:

  • What is the Exodus?
  • What is the life of Moses?
  • Where did Moses bring the Israelites?
  • What is the Torah?
Notes:

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  • The story of Exodus details the freeing of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and the unification of the people with God through the Mosaic covenant
  • The story begins in Exodus 1, where Pharaoh orders the enslavement of Jewish people and slaughtering of Jewish new-borns
  • To protect Moses, his mother put him in the river. He was found by Pharaoh's daughter and raised an Egyptian
  • God calls to Moses several years later through the Burning Bush, telling Moses to tell pharaoh to let his people go
    • Pharaoh refuses, so God sends 10 plagues. After the death of his first born son, he releases the Israelites and leads them through the Red Sea and to the Promised Land after 40 years
  • During the 40 years of wandering, Moses brought the Israelites to Mt Sinai, where he received the Torah, reinstating the Abrahamic Covenant
    • This also created a new covenant, the Mosaic Covenant
  • The Torah contains the laws of Jewish people - including 10 Commandments, moral and ethical imperatives, dietary laws and religious principles
    • Adherents abide by these laws to continue the validity of this Covenant
Summary : The Exodus details the bringing of the Israelites out of Egypt, led by Moses, a former Egyptian. Moses leads the Israelites through the desert for 40 years, during which he receives the 10 Commandments atop Mt Sinai and renews the Abrahamic Covenant. God gives Moses the Torah, which contains the laws of the Jewish people that are abided by to ensure the validity of the Covenant.
Passover - Legacy of the Exodus Outline the story of the Exodus and the giving of the Law at Sinai, including the 10 Commandments
Key Questions:

  • What is the Passover?
  • Where is the Exodus recorded?
  • What are the three themes of the Exodus?
Notes:

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  • To commemorate the Exodus Story, the Passover is celebrated. This is a significant event in the Jewish calendar, representing liberation and freedom of Jewish people
  • The last four books of the Torah tell the story of the Exodus; a pilgrimage which developed the identity of the self and the faith itself
  • The Exodus demonstrates the following themes
    • Divinity of God - seen through the Burning Bush
    • Only one God - Building of the Golden Calf
    • Justice - punishment is given to those who do not uphold the covenant + 10 plagues of Egypt, death of Egyptians in Red Sea “for God fights for their cause, and strikes those who strike them”
Summary : The Passover is a commemoration of the Exodus and a celebration of the freedom that was granted to them by God. The Exodus itself is recorded in the last four books of the Torah, demonstrating the themes of divinity, the sole God and justice.
Jewish Variants Outline the unique features of Conservative, Orthodox and Progressive Judaism
Key Questions:

  • What are the unique features of Conservative Judaism?
  • What are the unique features of Orthodox Judaism?
  • What are the unique features of Progressive Judaism?
Notes:

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  • The destruction of the two holy Jewish temples caused the Jewish people to be scattered across the world, leading to variants of the Faith emerging
  • Conservative
    • Fosters traditional Judaism while embracing modernity. Yet more traditional than progressive Judaism, especially in relation to worship.
    • Study of Holy texts is embedded in belief that Judaism is constantly evolving to meet contemporary needs.
    • Belief that the laws of the Torah and the Talmud are of divine origin, and therefore requires the following of Jewish law (halacha) yet acknowledges the human element in the sacred texts.
    • Belief that God’s will is made known to man through revelations. The revelation at Sinai the most public, but also belief in revelations to the prophets.
    • Service is in Hebrew but includes prayers in English
    • Places great importance on a universal people of Israel and the centrality of the land of Israel.

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      • Orthodox
        • Traditional observances as prescribed by law, limited interpretation of the Torah.
        • Distinguished by its worship in traditional Hebrew.
        • Belief in Biblical laws, with respect for the law’s divine origin.
        • Not administered by any central authority
        • Synagogues are established by groups and individuals and each has their own distinctive ideology and culture.

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          • Progressive
            • Created in an effort to modernise the Faith for younger generations.
            • Views the sacred heritage of the Torah as evolving and adapting. Belief that the Torah needs to be reinterpreted to capture the age.
            • Rejected belief in a personal Messiah, resurrection of the dead, rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem
            • Main ideological distinction with the Orthodox is the temple service, uses English and is adapted and shortened. Men and women sit together and women Rabbis may officiate, use of organ music and liturgical features.
            • Since the Holocaust have been more supportive of Zionism (national movement for return of the Jewish people to their homeland) and greater interest in revival of ritual.
Summary : The Jewish temple's destruction dispersed Jewish people across the world, causing the development of many different Jewish variants. Each variant has their own individual differences, however, they are united in the belief of a sole Creator and the maintenance of the Covenant.
Sole God - Creator of the Universe Students learn to discuss the belief in the one God and the attributes of God
Key Questions:

  • What is the belief of the Jews in God?
  • Is God transcendent or immanent?
  • What are the three aspects of God?
  • How do Hebrew Scriptures describe God?
  • What do Jewish people seek to do with the attributes of God?
Notes:

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  • Jewish people believe that God is the solve divine God, who was, is and always will be. This poses Judaism as a monotheistic religion.
    • “You shall have no other God before me, you shall not make for yourself an idol”
  • God is believed to be transcendent, immanent and the Creator. He is separate from the world, however, is still present through the Covenant with Abraham
  • Adherents avoid material representation of God, believing he is incorporeal - as a result, they avoid iconography and physical representations of Him
  • Jewish people believe that God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. Although God is separate from the physical world, He has a deep relationship with humanity through His love for them. Demonstrated in Genesis 1:26 "Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
  • God is good and everything that He creates is good. He does not act out of anger or personal preference, but rather morality itself.
  • God is holy, “You shall be holy because I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev 19:2). Holiness ennobles ethics, which enables life
  • Hebrew scripture describes God in three ways
    • As a clan - e.g. God of Abraham and his descendants
    • God of the land of Israel - Covenant with God and Jews is lined by the land
    • Universal God - creator of the universe
  • Jewish people aim to emulate the attributes of God through their lives. They do this in many ways, inclusive of the Shema; a declaration of faith proclaimed twice a day by Jewish adherents. It consists of three Torah passages. The first one demonstrates Jewish monotheism, reading "Hear, O Israel: The Hashem our God, the Hashem is one" Deuteronomy 6:4
Summary : The Jewish people believe in one, transcendent, immanent God who creates everything. He is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient and has a deep relationship with the Jewish people through the Covenant. Hebrew scripture describes God as a clan, the God of the Land of Israel and the Universal God. Jewish people seek to like a life like God's, proclaiming their faith and living in His ways.
Moral Law Prescribed by God Students learn to outline the concept of a divinely inspired moral law
Key Questions:

  • What is the source of the moral law?
  • What is a divinely inspired moral law?
  • What are the Mitzvot?
  • What is the significance of the divinely inspired moral law?
Notes:

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  • Found in the Jewish sacred text, moral law binds Jewish people to God. The main source of law is within the Torah, containing the 613 Mitzvot (commandments)
    • 248 are positive commandments - rituals of Jewish people, obedience to covenant
    • 365 are negative commandments - actions one must refrain from doing
  • The Mitzvot contain all aspects of life and worship and are used by the Jewish people to express their faithfulness to the Covenant.
  • Orthodox Jews believe that the laws were revealed to humans by God and are therefore Divine. Non-Orthodox Jews believe that the laws are divinely inspired
  • Some Mitzvot no longer apply to modern life. Some Mitzvot apply not only to Jews, but to all people of the world.
    • Eg - Noahide Laws are 7 basic laws that should be followed by all people
    • Women are exempt from some positive Mitzvot, others apply only them.
  • The commandments further express various aspects of Jewish life, such as the distinction between men and women in areas of worship and daily life
Summary : Jewish people believe that their law is divinely inspired by God, and is found in the Torah. The law contains the 613 Mitzvot, which can apply either to men, women or both. The Mitzvot and the moral law itself dictate all aspects of Jewish life, showing adherents the way in which to adhere to God's will and sustain a deep relationship with Him.
The Covenant Students learn to identify the importance of the Covenant for the Jewish people
Key Questions:

  • What is the Covenant?
  • What is the purpose of the Covenant?
  • How are Jewish people provided with their identity?
Notes:

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  • The Covenant highlights the unique relationship between God and His people - it is a central expression of the faith and the identity of the Jews "And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people" Leviticus 26:12
  • The covenant serves as an immanent aspect of the Jewish faith and limits God's omnipotence by giving the Jewish people freewill. However, this comes with many moral obligations
  • The Torah is an expression of the Covenant and is further developed in Hebrew Scriptures. The requirements of keeping the Covenant active (Halachah) are seen within the 613 Mitzvot in the written Torah
    • Jewish adherents return God's unbounded love by following the Halachah
  • Orthodox Judaism believes the Covenant's importance is through the Torah - a guide for everyday living. Progressive Judaism believes that the covenant is highlighted through the engagement of sacred texts and writings in order to live a spiritual life.
    • The Covenant, overall, is expressed through a deep concern for the people and state of Israel
  • The covenant acts as a point of communication for adherents - God engages in mundane human activity through this relationship. The covenant's main goal is to restore perfection to the world through peace and participation
  • The Covenant unites Jewish people with a sense of identity - all share common beliefs, practises and laws. Circumcision is a sign of accepting and ratifying the covenant (Brit Milah)
Summary : The Covenant is the immanent presence of God on earth, giving the Jewish people freewill. The Torah is an expression of the Covenant; within it are the Halachah, which are the requirements of the Covenant that must be fulfilled in order to ensure its maintenance. God is made known to adherents through the Covenant and it provides the Jewish people with a sense of identity through shared beliefs, practises and laws.
The Tanakh Students learn to identify the importance of the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud

Students learn to examine extracts from the Hebrew Scriptures which demonstrate the principal beliefs of Judaism

Key Questions:

  • What is the Tanakh?
  • What books are found within the Tanakh?
  • What is the significance of the Tanakh?
Notes:

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  • The Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) was written over 1000 years ago and has three main sections
    • Torah (Law) - the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. It has the 613 Mitzvot and commandments are the essence of this book. The teachings it encompasses include: monotheism, love of God, human life is sacred.
      • Also includes the Halachah - legal code of Judaism based on the Torah and rabbinical interpretation over many years
      • It is forbidden to add, subtract or interpret commandments contrary to Jewish tradition “Things that are revealed to us belong to us and our children forever, to keep all the words of this Torah (Deut 29:28).
    • Nevi'im (Prophets) - includes the writings of those who were called by God to communicate His message to humanity on Earth.
      • Books include - Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and The Twelve minor prophets
    • Ketuvim (Writings) - Writings that are collected over time by ordinary members of the community. Not believed to be divinely inspired (except Danciel)
      • Books include - Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Ruth, Daniel
  • The Tanakh has 24 books in total and is written primarily in Hebrew (believed to be a divine language)
  • There are numerous interpretations of the Tanakh - seen through Rabbinic literature speaking of the '70 faces of Torah' - for each word or phrase within the Bible, there are at least 70 interpretations
Summary : The Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) contains three books - the Torah, which is the law of the Jewish people, the Nevi'im, which are the writings of the prophets, and the Ketuvim, which are the writings of Jewish community members. The Tanakh provides for Jewish adherents their moral law through the Torah and an expression of identity through the beliefs within it.
The Talmud Students learn to identify the importance of the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud

Students learn to examine extracts from the Hebrew Scriptures which demonstrate the principal beliefs of Judaism

Key Questions:

  • What is the Talmud?
  • What are the parts of the Talmud?
  • How are the Talmud and Tanakh related to the principal beliefs of Judaism?
Notes:

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  • A collection of discussions and comments by prominent Rabbis regarding the Tanakh. It also serves to define laws, customs and ethics
    • Can be seen as a guide-book for Jewish adherents, allowing them to uphold the covenant
  • The Talmud is divided into two parts
    • Mishnah - earliest written compilations of the Oral Torah. It includes interpretations, opinions and debates explaining how to live and apply the Mitzvot
    • Gemara - addition commentary regarding the Mishnah and an extension of the teachings found within it
  • The Talmud and Tanakh confirm the principal beliefs of Judaism, seen through extracts from the Bible itself
    • God is Omniscient - "Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it already" Psalms 139:4
    • God is Omnipotent - Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. (Exodus 14: 26, 31)
    • God is Pure in Spirit and has no physical form - seen through the Creation story (Genesis 2:4-7) as He created everything
Summary : The Talmud is a collection of interpretations, debates and comments regarding the Tanakh, helping to explain its significance to Jewish adherents. The Talmud is divided into two parts - Mishnah, which contains interpretations, opinions and debates on the Mitzvot, and the Gemara; additional commentary on the Mishnah. The Talmud and Tanakh's extracts confirm the principal beliefs of Judaism, indeed, that is where they are derived from.
Commandments of the Torah Students learn to outline the principal ethical teachings of Judaism, which include: the Commandments of the Torah, the Prophetic Vision (including social justice and Tikkun Olam) and the Book of Proverbs - wisdom, righteousness, purity and generosity of spirit
Key Questions:

  • What are the Torah's commandments?
  • How do the Torah's commandments guide Jewish adherents?
Notes:

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  • Serve as a guide to spiritual life and rituals as well as justify Jewish ethical principles. The 613 Mitzvot provide a standard of behaviour and create an ordered society that shares mindfulness of God
  • The 10 Commandments form part of the 613 Mitzvot - the first three concern worship of God and the remaining 7 concern relationships one has with others
  • The remaining 603 Mitzvot detail every aspect of Jewish life - from ethical eating practises to clothing
  • “God wanted to benefit Israel; he therefore gave then Torah and commandments in abundance.” God gave these laws as a guide for all, so that they may live well with each other and Him
  • The whole of the Torah's teachings are guided by the central principle of - “what you find hateful, do not do to others”
  • Jewish adherents who are faithful must keep the commandments of the covenant “If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession”(Exodus 19 : 5)
Summary : The Torah's commandments include the 613 Mitzvot, 10 of which are the Decalogue. The commandments detail every aspect of Jewish life, providing for adherents a guide to Jewish life. Adherents to these commandments ensures maintenance of the Covenant.
Prophetic Vision & Tikkun Olam Students learn to outline the principal ethical teachings of Judaism, which include: the Commandments of the Torah, the Prophetic Vision (including social justice and Tikkun Olam) and the Book of Proverbs - wisdom, righteousness, purity and generosity of spirit
Key Questions:

  • What is prophetic Vision?
  • What is Tikkun Olam?
  • What is the significance of prophetic vision and Tikkun Olam?
Notes:

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  • Prophetic vision refers to an experience where an individual, item or event appears vividly within the mind, being under the influence of the divine or another agency
  • In the context of Judaism, God called prophets who walked the earth to communicate God's message to the Jewish people
  • A prophet's main goal is to ensure that the covenant is maintained and protected, through administering God's direct messages to all
  • Tikkun Olam refers to 'repair the world', which is a social justice principle. The need for social justice is a strong theme within the books of the prophets. For example, “trample on the heads of the poor and deny justice to the oppressed.” (Amos 2:7).
  • Social justice is present across all Jewish variants, being one of the 613 Mitzvot. Tikkun Olam itself illustrates a system of vales that guide adherents' actions with the world
    • For example, Jews are called to be stewards of God's creation. They should cultivate His work through deeds of loving kindness (Gemilut Chasadim)
    • "See to it that you do not spoil and destroy my world, for if you do there will be no one else to repair it" (Ecclesiastes 7:13)
Summary : Prophetic vision was used by God in the old testament to convey God's mission and Will to humans on Earth. The main goal of the prophets was to ensure the maintenance of the Covenant. Tikkun Olam refers to the concept of social justice or 'repair the world', which is a central theme across all Jewish variants. Indeed, Tikkun Olam is one of the 613 Mitzvot, making it a central teaching for all Jewish people.
Book of Proverbs - Wisdom, Righteousness, Purity & Generosity of Spirit Students learn to outline the principal ethical teachings of Judaism, which include: the Commandments of the Torah, the Prophetic Vision (including social justice and Tikkun Olam) and the Book of Proverbs - wisdom, righteousness, purity and generosity of spirit
Key Questions:

  • What is the book of Proverbs?
    • Who was it written by?
  • What is the purpose of the book?
Notes:

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  • The Ketuvim (writings) of the Tanakh illustrate Jewish Values. A main component of this is the book of Proverbs (written by Solomon) and is called wisdom literature
  • The book is not a group of laws - it is a collection of ethical instructions on how to approach everyday life
  • The central themes of wisdom, righteousness, purity and generosity of spirit are present throughout this book
Summary : The Book of Proverbs was written by Solomon and is a group of ethical instructions regarding how one should approach everyday life. The central themes of wisdom, righteousness, purity and generosity of spirit are observed throughout this book and guide adherents in decision making.
Importance of Ethical Teachings Describe the importance of ethical teachings in the lives of adherents
Key Questions:

  • What is the importance of Jewish ethical teachings?
Notes:

  • Jewish ethical teachings procure a peaceful and successful community and are based upon notions of kindness, loyalty and wisdom.
  • Promotion of goodwill is seen through the various sources of ethical teachings, which ensure a strong Jewish community
  • Ethical teachings are essential to adherents, firstly, as they provide a guide on approaching everyday life and relationships
  • They also help maintain and protect the covenant through obligation to God's word and promise
Summary : Jewish ethical teaching is based upon actions of goodwill, in accordance with the aforementioned sources of teaching. Ethical teachings both maintain the Covenant and guide adherents to approach everyday life and relationships with a mind like God's.
The Shabbat Students learn to describe the importance of Shabbat
Key Questions:

  • What is the Shabbat?
  • What is the importance of the Shabbat?
Notes:

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  • Shabbat begins at sunset on Friday and concludes at nightfall on Saturday - it is a Jewish representation of the 7th day of Creation
  • The Shabbat is one of the three pillars of Judaism - Jews live out their faith by participating in the Shabbat ritual
    • Also adheres to the commandment of 'remembering and observing the Sabbath Day', which is a day of relaxation and a gesture of respect to God
  • There are 39 categories of work a Jew must abstain from when celebrating the Shabbat.
  • The Shabbat is brought in by lighting 2 candles. Praying forms a crucial role within the Shabbat, as does family time and togetherness
  • Elaborate rituals are performed within the Shabbat, including the Shabbat meal
    • At the beginning of the Friday night and Saturday lunch meals, the Kiddush (sanctification ceremony) is recited over a cup of wine
  • The period of the Shabbat gives the opportunity for adherents to attend the Synagogue and study the Torah.
  • It allows commemoration of the Exodus and meditation on the greatness of God
  • The conclusion of the Shabbat is celebrated with a Havdalah (separation) ceremony. A candle, win and sweet smelling spices are used so the pleasantness of the Shabbat lasts into the week
Summary : The Shabbat refers to a day of rest lasting from sunset on Friday until nightfall on Saturday, remembering and observing God's creation of the world. It is a gesture from God to humanity to relax, and adherents abstain from work and pray, visit the synagogue and study the Torah. The Shabbat is central to Jewish life as it abides by the laws of the Covenant and develops a stronger connection with God through prayer, meditation and reading. In addition, the Shabbat binds family closer together through rituals, meals and ceremonies and unites them in a love for God and His will.
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