The people of Israel have always evoked envy, hatred and admiration among Europeans. Even those who lost their state and were forced to wander for nearly two thousand years, its representatives did not assimilate among other ethnic groups, but retained both their national identity and culture based on a deep religious tradition. What kind of faith do Jews have? Indeed, thanks to her, they survived many powers, empires and entire nations. They went through everything - power and slavery, periods of peace and strife, 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 on the historical stage.
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, the Jews believe that Yahweh is the creator and creator of the world, and they consider all other gods to be false. According to their doctrine, after the fall of the first people, the sons of men forgot the true God and began to serve idols. To remind people of himself, Yahweh called a prophet named Abraham, whom he predicted to become the father of many nations. Abraham, who came from a pagan family, having received the revelation of the Lord, renounced his previous cults and went on a pilgrimage led from above.
The Torah - Sacred - scripture of the Jews tells 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 raised the knife over his child, God stopped him, regarding such obedience as deep faith and devotion. Therefore, today, when the Jews are asked what kind of faith the Jews have, they answer: "The faith of Abraham."
According to the Torah, God fulfilled his promise and from Abraham through Isaac produced a large Jewish people, also known as Israel.
The origin of Judaism
The veneration of Yahweh by the first descendants of Abraham was not yet, in fact, Judaism and even monotheism in the strict sense of the word. In fact, the gods of the biblical religion of the Jews are numerous. What distinguished the Jews from other pagans was their unwillingness 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 an entire nation, and Judaism took shape as such. This is briefly described in the Torah.
By the will of fate, the people of the Jews fell into slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, most of whom treated them rather 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 out into the wilderness to lead them to the promised land. During this wandering on Mount Sinai, Moses received the first commandments and other instructions regarding the organization and practice of the cult. This is how the formalized faith of the Jews - Judaism - arose.
The first temple
While on Sinai, Moses, among other revelations, received from the Almighty guidance on the construction of the Tabernacle of the Covenant - a portable temple intended for the offering of sacrifices and other religious rituals. When the years of wandering in the desert ended, the Jews entered the promised land and established their statehood in its vastness, King David set out to replace the tabernacle with a full-fledged stone temple. However, God did not approve of David's enthusiasm, and entrusted the mission of building a new sanctuary to his son Solomon. Solomon, becoming king, began to fulfill the divine command and built an impressive temple on one of the hills of Jerusalem. According to tradition, this temple stood for 410 years, until the Babylonians destroyed it in 586.
The temple was for the Jews a national symbol, a banner of unity, fortitude and a physical guarantor of divine protection. When the temple was destroyed and the Jews were taken captive for 70 years, Israel's faith was shaken. 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 the old religious traditions and social structure. When in 516 the Jews were given the opportunity to return to their homelands and rebuild the temple, this group of enthusiasts spearheaded the process of reviving Israel's statehood. The temple was restored, divine services and sacrifices began to be held again, and along the way, the religion of the Jews itself acquired a new face: the Holy Scriptures were codified, many customs were streamlined, and the official doctrine took shape. Over time, several denominations arose among the Jews, differing in doctrinal and ethical views. Nevertheless, their spiritual and political unity was ensured by a common temple and worship. The era of the second temple lasted until 70 AD. e.
Judaism after 70 AD e.
In 70 A.D. e., during the hostilities during the Jewish War, the military leader Titus began to besiege and subsequently destroyed Jerusalem. Among the damaged buildings was the Jewish temple, which was completely destroyed. Since then, the Jews have been forced, based on historical conditions, to modify Judaism. Briefly, these changes also affected the doctrine, but mainly concerned subordination: the Jews ceased to submit to the priestly authority. After the destruction of the temple, there were no priests left at all, and the role of spiritual leaders was assumed by the rabbis, teachers of the law - laymen with a high social status among the Jews. From that time to this day, Judaism is presented only in this rabbinic form. The role of synagogues - local centers of Jewish culture and spirituality - came to the fore. In synagogues, services are held, scriptures are read, sermons are delivered, and important ceremonies are performed. Yeshivas - specialized schools for the study of Judaism, the Jewish language and culture - are arranged with them.
It is important to keep in mind that along with the 70 AD temple. e. Jews also lost their statehood. They were forbidden to live in Jerusalem, as a result they were scattered across other cities of the Roman Empire. Since then, Jewish diasporas have been present in almost every country on all continents. Surprisingly, they turned out to be quite resistant to assimilation and were able to carry their identity through the centuries, no matter what. And yet you need to remember that over time Judaism has changed, evolved and developed, therefore, answering the question "What religion do the Jews have?" e. and 1th century AD Judaism e., for example, they are not the same thing.
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 Jews' confession consists in the recognition of Yahweh as the only God and creator of all things. At the same time, the Jews 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 the Babylonian captivity and the second temple, Judaism adopted the concept of the resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment. Along with this, ideas about angels and demons appeared - the personified forces of good and evil. Both of these doctrines originate 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 about Jewish spirituality, it can be argued that Judaism is a religion that is briefly characterized as a cult of traditions. Indeed, traditions, even the most insignificant 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. The Sabbath day is endowed with extreme sanctity: any work is prohibited, even the simplest one, such as cooking. Also on Saturday you can't just have fun - this day is provided only for rest and spiritual exercises.
Currents of Judaism
Some 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 to 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 world-influential religion. Two world religions emerged from the bosom of Judaism - Christianity and Islam. And the numerous communities of Jews 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 today is heterogeneous within itself and therefore, answering the question of what religion the Jews have, it is also necessary to clarify its course in each specific case. There are several such intra-Jewish groups. The main ones are represented by the Orthodox wing, the Hasidic movement and the Reformed Jews. There is also progressive Judaism and a small group of Messianic Jews. However, the latter are excluded by the Jewish community 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 the children of Abraham, although not from Isaac. Secondly, the 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 admit the fact of worshiping the same god. Third, the historical relationship between Jews and Muslims has always been ambiguous and requires a separate analysis. It is important that in the field of theory they have much in common.
Judaism and Christianity
The Jews have always had a difficult relationship with Christians. Both sides disliked each other, which often led to conflicts and even bloodshed. Today, however, relations between these two Abrahamic religions are gradually improving, although they are 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 Jews for the crucifixion of Christ and associate all their historical hardships with this sin.
In a small 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 would like to believe that this small review will prompt a further, deeper study of the traditions of Judaism.