Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906 edition)
The religion of the Jewish people (II Macc. ii. 21, viii. 1, xiv. 38; Gal. i. 13 = , Esth. R. iii. 7; comp. , Esth. viii. 17); their system of beliefs and doctrines, rites and customs, as presented in their sacred literature and developed under the influence of the various civilizations with which they have come in contact, widening out into a world-religion affecting many nations and creeds. In reality the name "Judaism" should refer only to the religion of the people of Judea, that is, of the tribe of Judah, the name "Yehudi" (hence "Judean," "Jew") originally designating a member of that tribe. In the course of time, however, the term "Judaism" was applied to the entire Jewish history.
A clear and concise definition of Judaism is very difficult to give, for the reason that it is not a religion pure and simple based upon accepted creeds, like Christianity or Buddhism, but is one inseparably connected with the Jewish nation as the depository and guardian of the truths held by it for mankind. Furthermore, it is as a law, or system of laws, given by God on Sinai that Judaism is chiefly represented in Scripture and tradition, the religious doctrines being only implicitly or occasionally stated; wherefore it is frequently asserted that Judaism is a theocracy (Josephus, "Contra Ap." ii. 16), a religious legislation for the Jewish people, but not a religion. The fact is that Judaism is too large and comprehensive a force in history to be defined by a single term or encompassed from one point of view.
Extending over thirty-five centuries of history and over well-nigh all the lands of the civilized globe, Judaism could not always retain the same form and character. Judaism in its formative period, that is, in the patriarchal and prophetic times, differed from exilic and post-exilic Judaism; and rabbinic or pharisaic Judaism again presents a phase quite different from Mosaic Judaism, to which the Sadducees, and afterward to some extent the Karaites, persistently clung. Similarly Judaism in the Diaspora, or Hellenistic Judaism, showed great divergences from that of Palestine. So, too, the mysticism of the Orient produced in Germany and France a different form of Judaism from that inculcated by the Arabic philosophy cultivated by the Jews of Spain. Again, many Jews of modern times more or less systematically discard that form of Judaism fixed by the codes and the casuistry of the Middle Ages, and incline toward a Judaism which they hold more in harmony with the requirements of an age of broader culture and larger aims. Far from having become 1900 years ago a stagnant or dried-up religion, as Christian theology declares, Judaism has ever remained "a river of God full of living waters," which, while running within the river-bed of a single nation, has continued to feed anew the great streams of human civilization. In this light Judaism is presented in the following columns as a historic power varying in various epochs. It is first necessary to state what are the main principles of Judaism in contradistinction to all other religions.
Judaism is above all the religion of pure monotheism, the proclamation, propagation, and preservation of which have been the life-purpose and task of the Jewish people. "God is One, and so should Israel be of all nations the one vouching for His pure worship" (Josephus, "Ant." iv. 8, § 5; Ber. 6a, with reference to I Chron. xvii. 20, 21; Deut. vi. 4, xxvi. 17-18; Sifre, Deut. 31; and Sabbath afternoon liturgy: "Attah eḥad"). Judaism is not the mere profession of belief in the unity of God which each Jew is enjoined to make every morning and evening by reciting the nullShema' ("Ant." iv. 8, § 13; Sifre, Deut. 34; Ber. i. 1 et seq., ii.). It is the guardianship of the pure monotheistic faith; and this implied the intellectual and spiritual elaboration as well as the defense of the same throughout the centuries against all powers and systems of paganism or semipaganism, and amidst all the struggles and sufferings which such an unyielding and uncompromising attitude of a small minority entailed (see Jew. Encyc. vol. vi., s.v. God).
Judaism did not begin as an abstract or absolute monotheism arrived at by philosophical speculation and dogmatic in its character. Its God was not selected out of many, and invested with certain attributes to suit the requirements of an age or of a class of thinkers. Judaism at the very outset was a declaration of war against all other gods (Ex. xx. 3). Yhwh, its Only One, from Sinai, spoke at the very birth-hour of Israel, His first-born, the words: "Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord" (Ex. xii. 12); and to Babylon went forth His word: "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens." "They are vanity, the work of error" (Jer. x. 10, 15). "All the gods of the nations are things of nought ["elilim"; A. V. "idols"]: but the Lord made the heavens" (Ps. xcvi. 5). The contrast between the living God and everlasting King, the only true God, and the idols worshiped by brutish man (Isa. xliv. 9-19; Jer. x. 8-15; Ps. cxxxv. 16-18) was too striking to allow Judaism to regard heathenism and all its folly otherwise than with sarcastic contempt; while the heathen, on their side, were at a loss to comprehend the Jew worshiping an unseen God and without any images (Tacitus, "Historiæ," ii. 5, 9; Juvenal, xiv. 97). But idolatry, as well as idolaters, was consigned to relentless extermination by Judaism, not so much on account of its intrinsic error as because of the abominable rites connected with it, which led to the degradation and moral depravity of man (Ex. xx. 5; xxiii. 24, 33; Lev. xviii. 24-30; Deut. iv. 24, vii. 2-5, 23; ix. 3; xiv. 16; xx. 17-18). From the days of Moses (Num. xxv. 1) down to the time of Philo and the rabbinic schools (Philo, "De Humanitate"; Döllinger, "Heidenthum und Judenthum," 1857, pp. 682 et seq., 700-718; see also Jubilees, Book of; Sibyllines), pagan cults were steeped in vice and cruelty, rendering them "an abomination" unto "Israel's God, who hateth lewdness" (Sanh. 106a), wherefore rigid intolerancetoward every form or snare of idolatry became the characteristic feature of the rabbinical law (ib. vii. 6 et seq., x. 4; Maimonides, "Yad," 'Akkum, ii-vii.; ib. Melakim, vi. 4; see Worship, Idol-, Judaism brooks no compromise with polytheism or idolatrous heathenism. Indeed, it enjoins the Jew to give up his life rather than to act disloyally toward his pure monotheistic faith (Dan. iii.; I Macc. i. 63; II Mace. vii.; Sanh. 74a). As soon as the Jewish people were scattered among other nations, and thereby found the opportunity of drawing comparisons between other beliefs and their own, it was inevitable that they should be so impressed with the superiority of their faith as to look forward with perfect confidence to its ultimate triumph, like Abraham, conscious of their mission to proclaim the only God everywhere and to establish His kingdom throughout the earth (Isa. ii. 2, xv., xlvi., xlix.; Zech. viii. 23; Gen. R. xxxix.; see also Polemics and Polemical Literature); and this hope for the final victory of pure monotheistic truth over all pagan error found powerful utterance in the daily prayer of the Jew (see 'Alenu), and especially in the solemn New-Year liturgy (see Liturgy).
However tribal or exclusive the idea of the God of Israel may have been originally, Judaism boldly assumes that its God was the God of man from the very beginning; the Creator of heaven and earth, and the Ruler of the world from eternity to eternity, who brought the Flood upon a wicked generation of men, and who established the earth in righteousness and justice (Gen. i.-x.). In the light of this presentation of facts, idolatry or the worship of other gods is but a rebellious breaking away from the Most High, the King of the Nations, the universal God, besides whom there is no other (Deut. v. 39; Jer. x. 7), and to whom alone all knees must bend in humble adoration (Isa. xlv. 23, lxvi. 23). Judaism, accordingly, has for its sole object the restoration of the pure worship of God throughout the earth (Zech. xiv. 9); the Sinaitic covenant, which rendered Israel "a kingdom of priests among the nations"—itself only a renewal of the covenant made with Abraham and his descendants for all time—having been concluded for the sole purpose of giving back to mankind its God of old, the God of the Noachian covenant, which included all men (Gen. ix. 17, xviii. 18-19; Ex. xix. 3-6; Isa. xlix. 6-8). Surely there is nothing clannish in the God of the Prophets and the Psalmist, who judges all men and nations alike with justice and righteousness (Amos i.-ii., ix. 7; Jer. xxvi.; Ezek. xl.; Ps. xcvi. 13, xcviii. 9; and elsewhere). Judaism's God has through the prophetic, world-wide view become the God of history, and through the Psalms and the prayers of the Ḥasidim the God of the human heart, "the Father," and the "Lover of souls" (Isa. lxiii. 16; see Wisdom, xi. 26, and Abba). Far from departing from this standpoint, Judaism in the time of the Synagogue took the decisive forward step of declaring the Holy Name (see Adonai) ineffable, so as to allow the God of Israel to be known only as "the Lord God." Henceforth without any definite name He stood forth as the world's God without peer.
Judaism at all times protested most emphatically against any infringement of its pure monotheistic doctrine, whether by the dualism of the Gnostic (Sanh. 38a; Gen. R. i.; Eccl. R. iv. 8) or by the Trinitarianism of the Church (see Jew. Encyc. iv. 54, s.v. Christianity), never allowing such attributes as justice and pardoning love to divide the Godhead into different powers or personalities. Indeed, every contact with other systems of thought or belief served only to put Judaism on its guard lest the spirituality of God be marred by ascribing to Him human forms. Yet, far from being too transcendental, too remote from mortal man in his need (as Weber, "Jüdische Theologie," 1897, pp. 157 et seq., asserts), Judaism's God "is ever near, nearer than any other help or sympathy can be" (Yer. Ber. ix. 13a); "His very greatness consists in His condescension to man" (Meg. 31a; Lev. R. i., with reference to Ps. cxiii. 6). In fact, "God appears to each according to his capacity or temporary need" (Mek., Beshallaḥ, Shirah, iv.; see Schechter in "J. Q. R." vi. 417-427).
Judaism affirms that God is a spirit, above all limitations of form, the Absolute Being who calls Himself "I am who I am" ("Eheyeh asher Eheyeh"; Ex. iii. 14), the Source of all existence, above all things, independent of all conditions, and without any physical quality. Far, however, from excluding less philosophical views of the Deity, so ardent a Jew as R. Abraham b. David of Posquières contends against Maimonides that he who holds human conceptions of God, such as the cabalists did, is no less a Jew than he who insists on His absolute incorporeality (Haggahot to "Yad," Teshubah, iii. 7). Indeed, the daily prayers of the Jew, from "Adon 'Olam" to the "Shir ha-Yiḥud" of Samuel b. Kalonymus, show a wide range of thought, here of rationalistic and there of mystic character, combining in a singular manner transcendentalism and immanence or pantheism as in no other faith. While the ideas of the various ages and civilizations have thus ever expanded and deepened the conception of God, the principle of unity was ever jealously guarded lest "His glory be given to another" (Isa. xlii. 8; see God).
But the most characteristic and essential distinction of Judaism from every other system of belief and thought consists in its ethical monotheism. Not sacrifice, but righteous conduct, is what God desires (Isa. i. 12-17; Amos v. 21-24; Hos. vi. 6; Micah vi. 6-8; Jer. vii. 22; Ps. xl. 7 [A. V. 6], 1. 8-13); the whole sacrificial cult being intended only for the spiritual need of man (Pesiḳ. vi. 57, 62; Num. R. xxi.; Lev. R. ii.). Religion's only object is to induce man to walk in the ways of God and to do right (Gen. xix. 19; Deut. x. 12), God Himself being the God of righteousness and holiness, the ideal of moral perfection (Ex. xx. 5-6, xxxiv. 7; Lev. xix. 1; Deut. vii. 9-10). While the pagan gods were "products of fear," it was precisely "the fear of God" which produced in Judaism the conscience, the knowledge of a God within, thus preventing man from sin (Gen. xlii. 18; Ex. xx. 20; Deut. x. 12; Job i. 1). Consequently thehistory of mankind from the beginning appeared as the work of a moral Ruler of the world, of "the King of the nations of whom all are in awe" (Jer. x. 7; Ps. lxv. 13, xcvi. 10; Dan. ii. 21), in whom power and justice, love and truth are united (Ps. lxxxix. 15 [A. V. 14]). As He spoke to Israel, "Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy" (Lev. xix. 1, Hebr.), so "He said unto man, Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding" (Job xxviii. 28; comp. Micah vi. 8; Isa. xxxiii. 15; Ps. xv., xxiv. 4: "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"). Quite characteristic of rabbinical Judaism is the fact that the names used for God are chiefly taken from His ethical attributes: "The world's Righteous One" ("Zaddiḳo shel 'olam," Gen. R. xlix.; Yoma 37a); "The Merciful One" ("Raḥmana"); and most frequently "The Holy One, blessed be He!" ("ha-Ḳadosh baruk hu"). Before Cain killed his brother, he said: "There is no divine judgment and no Judge" (Targ. Yer. to Gen. iv. 8). "The first question put to man at the Last Judgment will be: 'Didst thou deal honestly with thy fellow man?'" (Shab. 31a; see God).
The unity of the world is a corollary of the unity of God. The many gods of heathendom divided the world into many parts and domains, and made it appear as the battle-ground of hostile powers. The One God of the Bible renders earth and heaven, light and darkness, life and death one—a universe ruled by everlasting wisdom and goodness, the work of one great Designer and Ruler who foresees in the beginning what will be in the end, who arranges everything according to His sublime purpose (Gen. i. 1-31; Isa. xlv. 5-7, xlvi. 9-10, lv. 8-9; Ps. civ. 24; Prov. iii. 19, 20; Job xxviii. 24-27, xxxviii.). Therefore God's covenant with the world which He created makes night and day and the seasons of the year maintain their order. He has given earth and heaven and everything therein their laws which they can not transgress (Gen. viii. 22; Jer. xxxiii. 20; Job xxxviii. 33; Ps. civ. 9, cxlviii. 6). At the same time God is ever present in the world watching and sustaining everything (Isa. xl. 28, xli. 4; Ps. civ. 27-30, cxxxix. 16, cxlv. 15-16; see Providence). Every single act of God is part of His wondrous work (Job v. 9, xxxviii.; Ps. lxxvii. 15 [A. V. 14], xcvi. 3). Accordingly all miracles are manifestations of His omnipotence (Gen. xviii. 14; Ex. ix. 16; Num. xvi. 30). The grand conception of an all-controlling Power and Wisdom creating order everywhere, and working after one great design, attainable only upon the basis of Jewish monotheism, finally paved the way for the idea of an empire of law in nature. How far this unity and immutability of the laws of nature, fixed by the will of the Creator, are compatible with miracle is a question the difficulty of which was felt by the rabbis of the Mishnah (Ab. v. 6; and Gen. R. v.). "God at Creation fixed the conditions for certain creatures under which they should change their nature" (the passage was misunderstood by Weber, l.c. p. 202, as well as by the medieval Jewish philosophers; see Miracles).
At any rate, Judaism, while insisting upon the unity of God and His government of the world, recognizes alongside of God no principle of evil in creation. God has no counterpart either in the powers of darkness, as the deities of Egypt and Babylon had, or in the power of evil, such as Ahriman in the Zoroastrian religion is, whose demoniacal nature was transferred by the Gnostic and Christian systems to Satan. In the Jewish Scriptures Satan has his place among the angels of heaven, and is bound to execute the will of God, his master (Job i. 7); and though sin and death are occasionally ascribed to him (see Satan), he can seduce and harm only as far as God permits him, and in the end must work for good (B. B. 16a). "God is the Creator of light and darkness, the Maker of peace and of evil" (Isa. xlv. 7). Everything He made was found by Him to be very good (Gen. i. 31); "also death," says R. Meïr (Gen. R. ix.). "What the Merciful does is for the good" (Ber. 60b). Whatever evil befalls man has disciplinary value: it is intended for his higher welfare (Deut. viii. 5; Ps. xciv. 12; Ta'an. 21a: "Gam zu leṭobah").
Because the Lord saw that the world could not stand to be measured by strict justice, He mingled the quality of mercy with that of justice and created the world with both (Gen. R. xii.). In striking contrast to the pessimistic doctrine that the world is the product of mere chance and full of evil, the Midrash boldly states that the world was (or is) a process of selection and evolution: "God created worlds after worlds until He said, 'This at last pleases Me'" (Gen. R. ix.; see Optimism).
Next to God's unity the most essential and characteristic doctrine of Judaism is that concerning God's relation to man. Heathenism degraded man by making him kneel before brutes and the works of his hand: Judaism declared man to be made in the image of God, the crown and culmination of God's creation, the appointed ruler of the earth, and vicegerent of God (Gen. i. 26, 28). In him as the end of Creation the earthly and the divine are singularly blended. This is the obvious meaning of the childlike Paradise story (Gen. ii.-iii.). The idea is summed up in the Psalmist's words: "Thou hast made him a little lower than godly beings [A. V. "angels"]" ("Elohim"; Ps. viii. 6 [A. V. 5]); "Thou hast made him ruler over the work of Thine hand" (ib. verse 7 ). This twofold nature of man, half animal, half deity, is frequently alluded to in Job (iv. 17-19, vii. 17, x. 9-12, xxv., xxxii. 8). The original meaning of "The Lord made man in the image of Elohim" is somewhat doubtful, though clearly some kind of "godly beings" is intended (Gen. i. 27, v. 1); the old translators have "angels"; see Book of Jubilees, xv. 27, and Mek., Beshallaḥ, vi.; Ex. R. xxx. 11, xxxii. 1; Gen. R. viii.; and Targ. Yer. to Gen. i. 27; Symmachus and Saadia translate: "God created him in a noble, upright stature" (see Geiger, "Urschrift," pp. 323, 324, 328). However this may be, R. Akiba, as spokesman for Judaism, takes it to signify that man is born free likeGod, able to choose between good and evil (Mek., l.c.). According to others (see Naḥmanides and Ibn Ezra, ad loc.), it is his intelligence which renders him "the image and likeness of God" (Gen. ii. 7; Isa. xlii. 5; Ps. civ. 29; Prov. xx. 27; Job xxxii. 8; Eccl. xii. 7). At any rate, it is the affinity of the human soul to God which is expressed in the words "image of God." The Rabbis say, "He is made for two worlds: the world that now is, and the world to come" (Gen. R. viii.; Tan., Emor, ed. Buber, p. 21).
The body makes man cherish sensual desires, and thus incline to sin (Gen. vi. 3-5, viii. 21; see Yeẓer Hara'); but it by no means forces him to commit sin. Judaism refutes the idea of an inherent impurity in the flesh or in matter as opposed to the spirit. Nor does Judaism accept the doctrine of original sin. The Paradise story (Gen. iii.) asserts in parabolic form man's original state of innocence (see Original Sin). "The soul that Thou hast given me is pure, Thou hast created it, Thou hast fashioned it, and Thou hast breathed it into me, and Thou preservest it within me, and at the appointed time Thou wilt take it from me to return it within me in the future." These are the words recited by the Jew every morning in his prayer (Ber. 60b). The belief of some, borrowed from Plato, that the body is "a prison-house of the soul" (Wisdom, ix. 15; Josephus, "B. J." ii. 8, § 11), never took root in Judaism, though the idea that Adam's sin brought death into the world (Wisdom, i. 13-16, ii. 21-24) is occasionally voiced by the Rabbis (see Death). Judaism knows of no "law of sin in the body" of which Paul speaks (Rom. vii. 23-25). Some commentators have found the doctrine of original sin in Ps. li. 7 (see Ibn Ezra and Delitzsch, ad loc.); but the view receives in general no support from rabbinical literature (see Lev. R. xiv. 5), though R. Johanan speaks of "the poison of the serpent" ('Ab. Zarah 22b; comp. Shab. 55b; Naḥmanides on Num. xix. 2; Zohar i. 52; Eccl. R. vii. 13).
The fundamental principle of Judaism (see Maimonides, "Moreh," iii. 17) is that man is free; that is to say, the choice between good and evil has been left to man as a participant of God's spirit. "Sin lieth at the door, and unto thee shall be its desire; but thou shalt rule over it" (Gen. iv. 7, Hebr.) says God to Cain; and herein is laid down for all time the law of man's freedom of will. Accordingly Moses says in the name of God: "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; . . . therefore choose life" (Deut. xxx. 15, 19); and Ben Sira, commenting upon this, says: "God hath made man from the beginning and left him in the hand of his counsel. . . . He hath set fire and water before thee; thou mayest stretch forth thy hand unto whichsoever thou wilt. Before man is life and death; and whichsoever he liketh, it shall be given him" (Ecclus. [Sirach] xv. 14-17). Similarly R. Akiba declares: "All is foreseen; but the mastery [that is, free will] is granted" (Ab. iii. 15). Another rabbinical saying is, "Everything is determined by Heaven save the fear of Heaven" (Ber. 33b). Freedom of will constitutes man's responsibility; and his heavenly prerogative would be impaired were there an inheritance of sin. "Every man shall be put to death for his own sin," says the Law (Deut. xxiv. 16). It is the principle for which the prophet Ezekiel fought (Ezek. xviii. 20). Accordingly the Rabbis say: "The wicked are under the power of their hearts; the righteous have their hearts in their power" (Gen. R. lxvii.). Also, "Man is constantly led along the way he wishes to go. If he wishes to pollute himself by sin, the gates of sin will be opened for him; if he strives for purity, the gates of purity will be opened to him" (Yoma 38a; Mak. 10b; Nid. 30b). Regarding the difficulty of reconciling free will with divine omniscience, see Free Will. Notwithstanding man's propensity to sin, caused by the Yeẓer Ha-Ra', "the leaven in the lump" (Ber. 17a; comp. I Cor. v. 7), and the universal experience of sinfulness (Eccl. vii. 20; Ex. R. xxxi.), rabbinical Judaism denies that sin is inherited from parents, pointing to Abraham the son of Terah, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, and others as instances to the contrary (Tan., Ḥuḳḳat, ed. Buber, p. 4, with reference to Job xiv. 4), and insists on the possibility of sinlessness as manifested by various saints (Shab. 55b; Yoma 22b; Eccl. R. i. 8, iii. 2).
Sin, according to Jewish teaching, is simply erring from the right path, owing chiefly to the weakness of human nature (Num. xv. 26; I Kings viii. 46; Ps. xix. 13, lxxviii. 39, ciii. 14; Job iv. 17-21); only in the really wicked it is insolent rebellion against God and His order ("pesha'" or "resha'"; Isa. lvii. 20; Ps. i. 4-6, xxxvi. 2; and elsewhere). And there is no sin too great to be atoned for by repentance and reparation (Ezek. xviii. 23; Yer. Peah i. 16b; Ḳid. 40b). The whole conception, then, of mankind's depravity by sin has no place in Judaism, which holds forth the reintegrating power of repentance to Gentiles and Jews, to the ordinary and the most corrupt sinners alike (Pes. 119a; R. H. 17b; Sanh. 103a, 108a; Yoma 86a, b). "Before God created the world, He created repentance for man as one of his prerequisites" (Pes. 54a; Gen. R. xxi., xxii.; see Repentance; Sin).
The doctrine by which Judaism exerted the greatest influence upon the history of the world is, however, that of the unity of the human family. The first eleven chapters of Genesis, whatever the origin of the narrative may be (see Babylonia and Genesis), teach that all the tribes of men have descended from one parent, Adam (= "man"), and that consequently the various races constitute one family. This doctrine is the logical consequence of the other, the unity of God. The theology of Judaism shaped its anthropology also. Childlike as the story of the confusion of tongues at the building of the Tower of Babel may appear (Gen. xi. 1-9, probably based upon an old Babylonian myth relating to the battle of the giants with the celestial gods), the Jewish genius made it convey a great truth, namely: God dispersed men in order to cause the whole earth to be the habitation of the human race, and thus to found and establish the higher unity of man upon the greatest possible diversity. Accordingly the end of history is that the Lord shall "turnto the nations [A. V., incorrectly, "the people"] a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent" (Zeph. iii. 9; comp. Gen. ix. 1).
Here is foreshadowed the world-plan of salvation, the Kingdom of God, an idea peculiar to Judaism. As Creation is centered upon man, so is the perfection of humanity, through the unfolding of all the powers of man in the world, the aim of the world-drama of history (Gen. i. 28; Isa. xlv. 18). "The world was created for man" (Ber. 6b). "Abraham, the true type of humanity, would have been the first-created man had God not seen the necessity of making him the restorer of a world corrupted by sin since Adam's day." "The Torah given to Israel on Sinai was originally intended for Adam as the first man; but, seeing that the six Noachian commandments—that is, the unwritten laws of humanity—were kept by him, God reserved the Torah for the descendants of Abraham" (Eccl. R. iii. 11; comp. Gen. R. xvi. 9, xxiv. 5). By their non-observance of the Noachian laws (Gen. R. xxiii., xxxviii.) the early generations of men all failed to fulfil the design of the Creator; Abraham was therefore selected to bring men back to the way of righteousness (Gen. xviii. 19; Josh. xxiv. 3), and thus to reunite the world by making the God of heaven God of the earth also (Gen. R. xxxix. 13, lix. 11).
The Ten Words of Sinai, too, were intended for every nation; but when all the others refused to accept them and Israel alone merited the priesthood by promising "What the Lord sayeth we will do," the Owner of the whole earth rendered Israel "His peculiar treasure among the nations, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex. xix. 1-8, xxiv. 7; Mek., Yitro, Bahodesh, 5; Sifre, Deut. 343; Pesiḳ. R. xxi.). In fact, the Ten Words of Sinai were promulgated in seventy languages in order that they might be understood by all of the seventy nations (Shab. 88b). "Had Israel not accepted the Law, the world would have been turned into chaos" (Shab. 88a).
Israel, then, has been chosen, like Israel's ancestor Abraham, the descendant of Shem (Gen. ix. 26-27), to be a blessing to all nations on earth (ib. xii. 3, xix. 18); and the name by which the Lord calls him at the Exodus (Ex. iv. 22), "My first-born son," betokens in the language of the time his mission to be that of the priest and teacher in the house-hold of the nations, leading the rest by his precept and example to the worship of the Only One (ib. xix. 6; Isa. lxi. 6). "A people dwelling in solitude and not counted among the nations" (Num. xxiii. 9; Deut. vii. 7), but watched over by divine providence with especial care (Deut. xxvii. 18-19, xxxii. 8-12), the standard-bearer of incomparable laws of wisdom and righteousness in the sight of the nations (ib. iv. 5-8), Israel has been created to declare God's praise to the world, to be "His witnesses" (LXX., "martyrs") testifying to His unity, "the light of the nations," and the "covenant of the people to establish the earth" (Isa. xliii. 10, 21; xlix. 6-8). "To Israel's house of God the nations shall flock to be taught of His ways and to learn to walk in His paths." This is to bring humanity back to its normal condition, peace and bliss on earth, because righteousness will then prevail everywhere and the whole "earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord" (Isa. ii. 2-4, ix. 6, xi. 4-9, lxv. 25; Micah iv. 1-4). Israel, who when redeemed from Egypt proclaimed God as King (Ex. xv. 19; Lev. R. ii. 4), received the truth of Sinai as a trust; he is never to rest until his God shall become king of the whole earth, until all men and nations shall bend the knee before Him (Zech. xiv. 9; Isa. xl. 5, xlv. 13, xlix. 19; Ps. xxii. 29 [A. V. 28], xlvii. 9 , lxxvii. 5 , xcvi.-xcix.). "Israel, who proclaims God's unity, is proclaimed by God as His unique people" (Mek., Beshallaḥ, Shirah, 3). Israel, as the people of the saints of the Most High, is to establish the kingdom of God to last forever (Dan. ii. 44, vii.). But as teacher and guardian of mankind's purest faith and loftiest hope, he is dealt with more severely by God for every transgression (Jer. ii. 21; Ezek. xx. 33-41; Amos iii. 2). Nay more, as the servant of God he has been chosen for continual martyrdom in the cause of truth and justice; he, therefore, is the "man of sorrows" whose affliction is to bring healing to the world and to lead many to righteousness (Isa. lii-liii.; see Servant of God).
Whether the expectation is that the universal kingdom of God on earth will be brought about by an ideal king from the house of David, the Messiah, as Isaiah and his followers depict the future of Israel (Isa. xi. 1 et seq.; Ezek. xxxiii. 24), or by the dispersed people of Israel itself, as the seer of the Exile (Isa. lvi.-lxvi.) indicates (see Messiah); whether or not the great day when all flesh shall worship the Lord will be preceded by a day of divine judgment when all the wicked "shall be stubble" (Mal. iii. 19, 21 [A. V. iv. 3]; see Day of the Lord; Eschatology; Gog and Magog), Judaism by its idea of a divine kingdom of truth and righteousness to be built on earth gave to mankind a hope and to history a goal for which to live and strive through the centuries. Other nations beheld in the world's process a continual decline from a golden age of happiness to an iron age of toil, until in a great catastrophe of conflagration and ruin the end of all things, of men and gods, is to be reached: Judaism points forward to a state of human perfection and bliss to be brought about by the complete unfolding of the divine in man or the revelation of God's full glory as the goal of history. And herein lies its great distinction also from Christianity. Judaism's scope lies not in the world beyond, the world of the spirit, of which man on earth can have no conception. Both the hope of resurrection and that of immortality, in some form or other familiar and indispensable to all tribes and creeds, seem evidently to have come to the Jews from without—the one from Persia or Babylonia, the other from Greece. Judaism itself rests on neither (see Eschatology; Immortality; Resurrection). Its sole aim and purpose is to render the world that now is a divine kingdom of truth and righteousness; and this gives it its eminently rational, ethical, and practical character.
Judaism has a twofold character: (1) universal, and (2) particular or national. The one pertains to its religious truths destined for the world; the other, to its national obligationsconnected with its priestly mission. Upon the former more stress is laid by the Prophets and by most of the sacred poets, by the Alexandrian propagandists and the Palestinian haggadists, as well as by the medieval philosophers and the modern Reform school; whereas the Mosaic law, the Halakah, and the Talmudic and cabalistic schools dwell almost exclusively upon the latter.
As a universal religion Judaism differs from all other religions in that it is not a creed or a system of beliefs upon the acceptance of which redemption or future salvation depends (see Articles of Faith). It is a system of human conduct, a law of righteousness which man should follow in order to live thereby (Lev. xviii. 5); that is, according to R. Meïr, the law of humanity, since "man" is spoken of and not Israel nor priest nor Levite (Sifra, Aḥare Mot; 'Ab. Zarah 3a; comp. Sanh. 59a, where the meaning of R. Meïr's words is altered). It is a law "for life and not for the depriving of man's life" (Sifra, l.c.). When, in answer to a heathen mocker, Hillel summed up the entire Law in the Golden Rule: "What is hateful to thee do not unto thy neighbor" (the Targumic translation of "Love thy neighbor as thyself"; Lev. xix. 18; Shab. 31b; see Ab. R. N., Recension B, xxvi., ed. Schechter, p. 53, where the answer is ascribed to R. Akiba instead; comp. Sifra, Ḳedoshim, iv.), he simply voiced the truth of which Abraham and Job are set up as types, and which is expressed by lawgiver (Deut. iv. 8) and prophet (Isa. i. 10-17, xxxiii. 15; Hos. vi. 6; Amos v. 21-24; Micah vi. 6-8; Zech. viii. 16-17), by the Psalmist (Ps. xv., xxiv., xxxiv. 13-15) and the Book of Wisdom, as well as by the Rabbis (Mek. 23b-24a). Whereas heathenism by its cults of Moloch and similar gods fostered cruelty, the Torah enjoined man "to walk in the ways of a righteous and merciful God, and be righteous and merciful like Him" (Deut. xi. 22; Sifre, Deut. 49; Mek., Beshallaḥ, Shirah); to love the stranger and protect the fatherless and the widow as He does (Deut. x. 17-20).
Judaism is, above all, the law of justice. Whereas in heathendom, except in the case of some exalted philosopher like Plato, might was deified, and the oppressed, the slave, and the stranger found no protection in religion, the declaration is everywhere made throughout Scripture that injustice committed by man against man provokes the wrath of the world's Ruler and Judge (Ex. xxi. 22-23; Gen. vi. 13, xviii. 20; Deut. xxvii. 15-26; Amos i. 3-ii. 8; and elsewhere), and that righteousness and compassionate love are demanded for the oppressed, the slave, the poor, the fatherless and homeless, the stranger, and for the criminal as having a claim on the sympathy of his fellow men; even for the dumb creature compassion is required (Ex. xxii. 20-26, xxiii. 5-6; Deut. xxii. 6; xxiv. 6, 10-xxv. 4; Job xxxi.). This is the "Torah" of which Isaiah speaks (Isa. i. 10), the "commandment" put by God upon every human heart (Deut. xxx. 11-14). And this spirit of justice permeates the Talmudic literature also. "For righteousness is one of the pillars of the world" (Ab. i. 18). "Where right is suppressed war comes upon the world" (ib. iv. 8). "The execution of justice is one of the Noachian laws of humanity" (Sanh. 56b). "Justice is demanded alike for the Gentile and the Jew" (Mak. 24a; B. Ḳ. 113a; and other quotations in Baḥya b. Joseph's "Ḳad ha-Kemaḥ," ch. "Gezelah"). To have due regard for the honor of all fellow creatures ("kebod ḥaberiyyot"; Tos., B. Ḳ. vii. 10) is one of the leading principles of rabbinic law (Shab. 94b).
Judaism furthermore is the law of purity. Heathenism by its orgiastic cults of Baal-peor, Astarte, and the like, fostered impurity and incest (Lev. xviii. 3, 24-30; Num. xxv. 1-9; Deut. iv. 3). The Torah warns against fornication, and teaches purity of heart and of action (Num. xv. 39; Deut. xxiii. 18-19, xxiv. 15; Prov. vii. 5-27; Job xxxi. 1), because God is too pure to tolerate unchastity in man or in woman (see Holiness; Purity). Judaism resents every act of lewdness as "nebalah" = "villainy" (Gen. xxxiv. 7, 31; Deut. xxii. 21; Judges xix. 24; II Sam. xiii. 12; see Folly), and most severely condemns lascivious talk (Isa. ix. 16; Shab. 33a).
Judaism is, moreover, the law of truth. Its God is the God of truth (Jer. x. 10). "The seal of the Holy One is truth" (Gen. R. lxxxi.; see Alpha and Omega). Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, Job, and Ḳohelet wrestled with God in doubt until He revealed Himself to them in a higher form (Gen. xviii. 25; Ex. xxxii.-xxxiii.; Jer. xii. 1; Job xxxi. 35). And as the Prophets had perfect faith in God as the God of truth and therefore shrank from hypocrisy (Yer. Ber. vii. 11c), so did all the Jewish philosophers show perfect confidence in truth while boldly expressing their lofty views concerning the Deity and divesting God of every trace of Anthropomorphism and Anthropopathism and of every attribute infringing upon the spirituality and unity of God. It was, says the Talmud, the last will of Canaan that his children should not speak the truth and should love lasciviousness (Pes. 113b). "The Torah of Moses is truth" and "desires men to speak the truth and assent to the truth, even as God Himself assents to the truth when honestly spoken"; for "Upon truth rests the world" (B. B. 74a; Ps. xv. 2; Ab. R. N. xxxvii.; Ab. i. 18). This honest search for truth made Judaism, indeed, the world's great power for truth as well as for righteousness.
Judaism promotes and fosters education and culture. In contrast to such systems of faith as foster ignorance of the masses, it renders it a duty for the father to instruct his children and for the community to provide for the general instruction of old and young (see Education; Philosophy). It sanctifies labor, and makes the teaching of a trade whereby a livelihood may be earned a duty incumbent upon the father or upon the municipal authority (see Labor, Holiness of). It makes the systematic care of the poor a duty of the community with a view to the dignity and self-help of the recipient (See Charity). It denounces celibacy as unlawful, and enjoins each man to build a home and to contribute to the welfare of human society (see Marriage). The high priest in Israel was not allowed to officiate on the Day of Atonement unless he had a wifeliving with him (Yoma i. 1; comp. Ta'an. ii. 2). It enjoins love of country and loyalty to the government, no matter how unfriendly it be to the Jew (Jer. xxix. 7; Ab. iii. 2; Ket. 111a; see Patriotism).
Judaism is a religion of joy, and it desires that man should rejoice before God and gratefully enjoy all His gifts, at the same time filling other hearts with joy and thanksgiving. Especially are its Sabbath and festal days seasons of joy with no austerity about them. Judaism discourages asceticism (see Asceticism; Joy).
Judaism is a religion of hope. It teaches men to recognize in pain and sorrow dispensations of divine goodness. It is optimistic, because it does not defer hope merely to the world to come, but waits for the manifestation of God's plans of wisdom and goodness in the moral and spiritual advancement of man. While the present world is, in comparison to the future one, declared to be "like the vestibule wherein one prepares for the palace," it is nevertheless stated that "one hour devoted to repentance and good works in this world is more valuable than the entire life of the world to come" (Ab. iv. 16-17); for "to-day is the time for working out one's destiny, while to-morrow is the time for receiving compensation" ('Er. 22a).
As its highest aim and motive Judaism regards the love of God. Twice every day the Jew recites the Shema', which contains the words: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deut. vi. 5); this verse is understood to enjoin him to willingly surrender life and fortune whenever the cause of God demands it, while it at the same time urges him to make God beloved by all his fellow creatures through deeds of kindness, as Abraham did (Sifre, Deut. 32). This love of God implies the most unselfish devotion and the purest motive of action; that is, acting not from fear, but rather for God's sake alone (Sifre, Deut. 32, 48; Ab. ii. 12); doing good not in view of any reward in the world to come (Ab. i. 3), but for its own sake (see Schreiner, "Die Jüngsten Urtheile über das Judenthum," 1902, pp. 145-151); and it also implies the love of man (Deut. x. 12-19; see Love).
Judaism, finally, is a system of sanctification of life. It teaches that the whole of life is holy, because God is manifested in it: "Be holy, for the Lord your God is holy" (Lev. xix. 1, Hebr.). Even in the functions of animal life the presence of a holy God should be realized (Deut. xxiii. 15); and when the perfect state of humanity shall have been attained, every road will be a holy road free from impurity (Isa. xxxv. 8), and "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holy unto the Lord" (Zech. xiv. 20, R. V.).
The striking feature of Judaism, however, is that, while containing the highest spiritual and ethical truths for humanity, it is bound up with the Jewish nation. The One and Only God, Yhwh, is Israel's God in particular (Sifre, Deut. 31); and the separation of Israel from the rest of the nations in order to distinguish it as God's people is the express purpose of the Torah (Lev. xx. 24, 26), and the characteristic trait of Judaism from the time of Ezra (Ezra vi. 21; Neh. x. 21) and of the Scribes or Pharisees (see Pharisees). This national distinctness or aloofness of the Jew has brought him all the hostility, persecutions, and bitter attacks of a surrounding world from the days of Haman (Esth. iii. 8) and of Apion in Alexandria down to the most recent times (see Anti-Semitism; Apion). Even such historians as Mommsen ("Rümische Gesch." 1885, v. 487), Ed. Meyer ("Gesch. des Alterthums," iii. 167-236), Harnack ("Die Mission und Ausbreitung des Christenthums," 1902, p. 16), and Bousset ("Wesen der Religion des Judenthums," 1903, pp. 128-157) see in Judaism only a national religion, in Israel's God a national God. Nay, it may be affirmed without exaggeration that a just and unprejudiced estimate of Judaism is found nowhere in modern Christian writings (see Schreiner, l.c.). The fact of the matter is that Judaism, while representing the guardianship of the universal religious truths for humanity, surrounded the Jewish people, as the priestly people of the world's Only God, with laws and rites of a specific national character in order to keep these very truths forever intact and at the same time to invest the guardians of them with the sanctity of the world's priesthood. "The people of Israel have from the beginning sworn fidelity to God and have recognized Him as the world's Ruler" (Ber. 6a; Ḥag. 3a); therefore have they been called "the sons of God" (Deut. xiv. 1; Ab. iii. 13). Yet their especial sonship of God implies that they should be faithful to Him unto death, and by continued self-surrender and martyrdom should glorify His name before the world throughout the ages (Sifra, Emor, iv., on Lev. xxii. 32-33; comp. Ps. xliv. 18-23; Dan. iii.; II Macc. vii.; and Ḳiddush ha-Shem).
The Sinaitic covenant which rendered Israel "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex. xix. 6) became, the Rabbis say, "a source of hatred to the nations" (Shab. 89a: a play upon words, "Sinai"—"Sin'ah"), because it separated it from them by statutes and ordinances such as the dietary and the Levitical purity laws and others intended to prevent idolatrous practises. Like the priest in the Temple, whose garments and mode of life distinguished him from the rest in order to invest him with the spirit of greater sanctity and purity (I Chron. xxiii. 13), so Israel was for all time to be impressed with its priestly mission by all those ceremonies which form so prominent a feature in its religious life (see Ceremonies; Circumcision; Commandments; Dietary Laws). Particularly the Mosaic and, later on, the Pharisaic laws had for their object the separation of the Jewish people from all those influences prevalent in heathendom which led to idolatry and impurity; wherefore not only intermarriage, but also participation in any meal or other festive gathering which could possibly be connected with idol-worship was prohibited (see Worship, Idol-; Intermarriage; Jubilees, Book of.) This persistent avoidance of association with the Gentiles on the part of the Pharisees, which in the time of the Maccabees was termed ἀμξία = "keepingapart from the surrounding nations" (comp. II Macc. xiv. 38), became the chief cause of the accusation of a "hatred of mankind" which was brought against the Jews by the Greeks and Romans, and which has ever since been reiterated by the anti-Semites (see Schürer, "Gesch." iii. 3, 416).
In reality these very laws of seclusion fitted the Jew for his herculean task of battling for the truth against a world of falsehood, and enabled him to resist the temptations and to brave the persecutions of the nations and the ages. They imbued him with a spirit of loyalty unparalleled in human history; they inculcated in him the principle of abstinence, enabling him to endure privation and torture; and filled him with that noble pride which alone upheld him amidst the taunts and sneers of high and low. They brought out those traits of manhood which characterized Abraham, who, according to the Rabbis, was called '"Ibri " (Hebrew) because his maxim was: "Let all the world stand on the one side ["'eber eḥad"]—I side with God and shall win in the end" (Gen. R. xlvi.). But these laws also fostered a conception of the sanctity of life unknown to other creeds or races. By investing the commonest act and event with religious obligations, they made the whole of life earnest and holy with duty. Instead of being "a yoke of servitude," as Schürer and others have it, they "filled the home and the festal seasons with higher joy" (see Schechter and Abrahams in "J. Q. R." iii. 762 et seq., xi. 626 et seq.).
Notwithstanding its unmitigated severity against heathenism with its folly and vice, and against every mode of compromise therewith, Judaism does not, like other creeds, consign the non-believer to eternal doom. It judges men not by their creed, but by their deeds, demanding righteous actions and pure motives, since "fear of God" signifies fear of Him who looketh into the heart (Sifra, Aḥare Mot, iii. 2). It declares through R. Joshua b. Hananiah, whose opinion is generally accepted, that "the righteous of all nations have a share in the world to come"; the Shammaite R. Eliezer in consigning all heathen to Gehenna bases his argument on the Scriptural verse Ps. ix. 18 (A. V. 17), into which he reads, "The wicked are turned to Sheol because all heathen forget God"—not as R. Joshua does, "all those heathen that forget God" (Sanh. 105a). It is the moral depravity ascribed to the heathen, owing to his unchaste and violent habits, which is the cause of all the harsh haggadic expressions—such as "the people that resemble the ass" (Ket. 111a)—and halakic injunctions found in the Talmud against the heathen (Gentile or 'Akkum; see Jubilees, Book of). The latter is always under grave suspicion (see 'Ab. Zarah ii. 1; Yeb. 98a), yet, no sooner does he solemnly discard idolatry than his association is invited and he has a claim on protection (Giṭ. 45a).
On the contrary, Judaism waits for "the righteous nation that keeps the faith" (Isa. xxvi. 2), and opens wide "its gates that the righteous from among the heathen world may enter" (Ps. cxviii. 20; Sifra, Aḥare Mot, xiii.), calling the Gentiles that serve God in righteousness "priests of the Lord" ("Otiot de-R. Akiba," letter "Zayin"). It declares that the Holy Spirit may rest upon the righteous heathen as well as upon the Jew (Tanna debe Eliyahu R. ix.). It pays due homage to the wise among the heathen (Ber. 58a; Soṭah 35b; Bek. 8b; Gen. R. lxv.). It recognizes the existence of prophets among the heathen (B. B. 15b: "Fifteen prophets God sent to the heathen world up to the time of Moses: Balaam and his father, Job and his four friends," etc.; comp. Lev. R. i. 12, ii. 8; Tanna debe Eliyahu R. xxvi.; ib. Zuṭa xi., etc.). The assertion made by Max Müller, Kuenen, and others, that Judaism is not a missionary religion, rests on insufficient knowledge. There existed an extensive proselyte propaganda literature, especially in Alexandria (see Didache; Propaganda); and, according to the Midrash, "the heathen world is saved by the merit of the one proselyte who is annually won" (Gen. R. xxviii.; comp. Matt. xxiii. 15; Jellinek, "B. H." vi., Introduction, xlvi.). Abraham and Sarah are represented as devoting their lives to making proselytes (Gen. R. xxxix.); and as the Psalmist accords to the proselytes—"those that fear God"—a special place (Ps. cxv. 11), so does the daily prayer of the Jew in the "Shemoneh 'Esreh" contain a special blessing for the proselytes ("Gere ha-Ẓedeḳ"). Only in later centuries, when the Church interfered through apostates and by edicts, was the proselyte declared to be a plague instead of a desired accession to the house of Israel (Isa. xiv. 1); the ancient Halakah endeavored to encourage the heathen to come under the wings of the Shekinah (Yeb. 47a, b; Mas. Gerim; Lev. R. ii.). In order to facilitate the admission of Gentiles, Judaism created two classes: (1) "proselytes of righteousness," who had to bring the "sacrifices of righteousness" while submitting to the Abrahamic rite in order to become full members of the house of Israel; and (2) "proselytes of the gate" ("gere toshab"), who accepted only the seven Noachian laws (ten and thirty are also mentioned) of humanity. Occasionally the necessity of undergoing circumcision is made a matter of controversy also in the case of the full proselyte (see Circumcision). But proselytism as a system of obtaining large numbers is deprecated by Judaism.
However, the Messianic age is regarded as the one when "the fulness of the heathen world" will join Judaism (Isa. xiv. 1; Zech. viii. 23; 'Ab. Zarah 3a). Especially characteristic of the cosmopolitan spirit of Judaism is the fact that the seventy bullocks brought as sacrifice during the Sukkot festival at the Temple were taken to be peace-offerings on behalf of the supposed seventy nations representing the heathen world (Suk. 55b), a view shared by Philo ("De Monarchia," ii. 6; idem, "De Septenario," p. 26; see Treitel in "Monatsschrift," 1903, pp. 493-495). Throughout the entire ethical literature of the Jews, from Tanna debe Eliyahu R. down to the various Ethical Wills of the Rabbis, there is voiced regarding the non-Jewish world a broadly human spirit which stands in strange contrast to the narrowness with which Judaism is viewed by Christian writers, even those of high rank (see Zunz, "Z. G." pp. 122-157). The same cosmopolitan attitude was taken by Judaism whenever its representativeswere called upon to act as intermediaries between Moslem and Christian; and the parable of the three rings, put by Lessing into the mouth of Nathan der Weise, was actually of Jewish origin (see Wünsche in "Lessing-Mendelssohn Gedenkbuch," 1879, pp. 329 et seq.).
Owing to the Paulinian antithesis of law and faith or love (see Löwy, "Die Paulinische Lehre von Gesetz," in "Monatsschrift," 1903, pp. 332 et seq., 417 et seq.), the Torah, the basis and center of Judaism since Ezra, has been persistently placed in a false light by non-Jewish writers, undue stress being laid upon "the burden of the Law." In reality, the word "Torah" signifies both "law" and "doctrine"; and Judaism stands for both while antagonizing Paul's conception of faith as a blind dogmatic belief which fetters the mind. It prefers the bondage of the Law to the bondage of the spirit. It looks upon the divine commandments as a source of spiritual joy ("simḥah shel miẓwah") and as a token of God's special protection (Ber. 31a), for which it enjoins the Jew to offer Benedictions and to display zeal and enthusiastic love (Ab. v. 20). "God has given the children of Israel so many commandments in order to increase their merit [Mak. iii. 16] or to purify them" (Tan., Shemini, ed. Buber, p. 12). Every morning after having taken upon himself the yoke of God's kingdom, the Israelite has to take upon himself the yoke of the divine commandments also (Ber. ii. 2); and there is no greater joy for the true Israelite than to be "burdened with commandments" (Ber. 17a). "Even the commonest of Jews are full of merit on account of the many commandments they fulfil" (ib. 57a.)
The Law was accordingly a privilege which was granted to Israel because of God's special favor. Instead of blind faith, Judaism required good works for the protection of man against the spirit of sin (ib. 32b). The Law was to impress the life of the Jew with the holiness of duty. It spiritualized the whole of life. It trained the Jewish people to exercise self-control and moderation, and it sanctified the home. It rendered the commonest functions of life holy by prescribing for them special commandments. In this sense were the 613 commandments regarded by Judaism.
Some of these are understood to be divine marks of distinction to separate Israel from the other nations—statutes ("ḥukkot") which are designated as unreasonable by the heathen world, such as laws concerning diet, dress, and the like (Sifra, Aḥare Mot, xiii.). Others are called "'eduyot" (testimony), in view of their having been given to make Israel testify to God's miraculous guidance, such as the festive seasons of the year; while still others are "signs" ("ot"), being tokens of the covenant between God and Israel, such as circumcision, the Sabbath (Gen. xvii. 11; Ex. xxxi. 13), the Passover (Ex. xii. 13, xiii. 9), and, according to the rabbinical interpretation, the tefillin (Deut. vi. 8, xi. 18).
Of sacraments, in the sense of mysterious rites by which a person is brought into a lifelong bodily relationship to God, Judaism has none. The Sabbath and circumcision have been erroneously called thus by Frankel (in his "Zeitschrift," 1844, p. 67): they are institutions of Judaism of an essential and, according to the generally accepted opinion, vital character; but they do not give any Jew the character of an adherent of the faith (see Ceremony; Commandments). At the same time the Sabbath and the festival seasons, with the ceremonies connected with them, have at all times been the most significant expressions of Jewish sentiment, and must be regarded as the most important factors of religious life both in the Synagogue and in the home (see Ab, Ninth of; Atonement, Day of; Ḥanukkah; New-Year; Passover; Purim; Sabbath; Shabuot; and Sukkot).
While the immutability of the Torah, that is, the law of Moses, both the written and the oral Law, is declared by Maimonides to be one of the cardinal doctrines of Judaism, there are views expressed in the Talmud that the commandments will be abrogated in the world to come (Nid. 61b). It is especially the dietary laws that will, it is said, be no longer in force in the Messianic time (Midr. Teh. on Ps. cxlvi. 4).
On the question whether the laws concerning sacrifice and Levitical purity have ceased to be integral parts of Judaism, Reform and Orthodox Judaism are at issue (on this and other points of difference between the two extreme parties of Judaism see Reform Judaism). Between the two stands the so-called "Breslau school," with Zacharias Frankel as head, whose watchword was "Positive Historical Judaism," and whose principle was "Reform tempered with Conservatism." While no longer adhering to the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch (see Grätz in "Gesch." ii. 299-318, and Schechter in "J. Q. R." iii. 760-761) and the divine character of tradition (see Frankel, "Darke ha-Mishnah"), it assigns the power and authority for reforms in Judaism only to the Jewish community as a whole, or to what Schechter calls "catholic Israel." The latter author desires "a strong authority," one which, "drawing inspiration from the past, understands also how to reconcile us [the Jews] with the present and to prepare us [them] for the future" ("J. Q. R." iv. 470). Grätz goes so far as to reduce Judaism to two fundamental principles: (1) "the religious element, which is mere negative monotheism in the widest acceptation of the term," and (2) the ethical, which offers the ideal for the moral life: "Be ye holy even as I am holy"; at the same time declaring that "prophets and Talmudists did not regard sacrifice or ritual as the fundamental and determining thing in Judaism" (Grätz, i. 9). This leads to a final statement of the principles and forces of Judaism.
The Shema', "the proclamation of God's unity, requires an undivided Israel" (Mek., Yitro, Baḥodesh, i.). "One God, One Israel, and One Temple" is the principle twice stated in Josephus ("Ant." iv. 8, § 5; "Contra Ap." ii. 28); "One God, One Israel, and One Torah" is the principle upon which Orthodox Judaism rests. "It was an evil day for Israel when the controversies between the schools of Shammai and Hillel began, and the one Torah appearedto have become two Torot" (Sanh. 88b; where the plural "Torot" occurs, it refers to the written and oral law; Yoma 28b, with reference to Gen. xxvi. 5; comp. Shab. 31a). This Torah, both written and oral, was known to and practised in all its details by the Patriarchs (Yoma 28b; Gen. R. lxiv.; comp. Jubilees, Book of, and "Attah Eḥad" in the liturgy). "Whosoever denies that the whole Law, written as well as oral, was given by God to Moses on Sinai is a heretic" (Sanh. 99a; Sifra, Behar, i. 1).
The trustworthiness of the divine behest until the final codification of the Law, from this point of view, rests upon the continuous chain of tradition from Moses down to the men of the Great Synagogue (Ab. i. 1), and afterward upon the successive ordination of the Rabbis by the elders with the laying on of hands (probably originally under the influence of the Holy Spirit; see Semikah). Accordingly the stability and the immutability of the Law remained from the Orthodox standpoint one of the cardinal principles of Judaism (see M. Friedländer, "The Jewish Religion," 1891; Samson Raphael Hirsch, "Horeb," 1837).
Independent research, however, discerns evolution and progress to have been at work in the various Mosaic legislations (Ex. xx. 22-xxiii. 19; Deut. xii.-xxi. 13; and Leviticus together with Num. xv., xviii.-xix. 22), in the prophetic and priestly as well as in the soferic activities, and it necessarily sees in revelation and inspiration as well as in tradition a spiritual force working from within rather than a heavenly communication coming from without. From this point of view, ethical monotheism presents itself as the product not of the Semitic race, which may at best have created predisposition for prophetic inspiration and for a conception of the Deity as a personality with certain moral relations to man, but solely of the Jewish genius, whose purer and tenderer conception of life demanded a pure and holy God in sharp contrast to the cruel and lascivious gods of the other Semitic races (see M. Joël, "Religiös-Philosophische Zeitfragen," 1876, pp. 82-83).
It was the prophetic spirit of the Jewish nation embodied in Abraham (not the Midianite, as Budde thinks, nor some Babylonian tribe, as the Assyriologists would have it) which transformed Yhwh, an original tribal deity localized on Sinai and connected with the celestial phenomena of nature, into the God of holiness, "a power not ourselves that maketh for righteousness," the moral governor of the world. Yet this spirit works throughout the Biblical time only in and through a few individuals in each age; again and again the people lapse into idolatry from lack of power to soar to the heights of prophetic vision. Only in the small Judean kingdom with the help of the Deuteronomic Book of the Law the beginning is made, and finally through Ezra the foundation is laid for the realization of the plan of "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."
But while thus the people were won, and the former propensity to idolatry, the "yeẓer ha-ra'," was banished forever by the power of the men of the Great Synagogue (Yoma 69b), the light of prophetic universalism became dim. Still it found its utterance in the Synagogue with its liturgy, in the Psalms, in the Books of Jonah and Job, in the Books of Wisdom, and most singularly in the hafṭarah read on Sabbath and holy days often to voice the prophetic view concerning sacrifice and ritual in direct antagonism to the Mosaic precepts. Here, too, "the Holy Spirit" was at work (see Inspiration; Synagogue). It created Pharisaism in opposition to Sadducean insistence upon the letter of the Law; and the day when the injunction "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" was abrogated, and the rationalistic interpretation of the Scribes was substituted therefor, was celebrated as a triumph of reason (Megillat Ta'an. iv. 1). While the legalists beheld God's majesty confined to "the four ells of the Halakah" (Ber. 8a), the Haggadah unfolded the spirit of freedom and progress; and when mysticism in the East threatened to benumb the spirit, philosophy under Arabian influence succeeded in enlarging the mental horizon of Judaism anew.
Thus Judaism presents two streams or currents of thought ever running parallel to each other: the one conservative, the other progressive and liberal; the one accentuating the national and ritualistic, the other the cosmopolitan and spiritual, elements; mysticism here and rationalism there, these together forming the centripetal and centrifugal forces of Judaism to keep it in continuous progress upon its God-appointed track.
Judaism, parent of both Christianity and Islam, holds forth the pledge and promise of the unity of the two ("Yad," Melakim, xi. 4; "Cuzari," iv. 23; see Jew. Encyc. iv. 56, s.v. Christianity), as it often stood as mediator between Church and Mosque during the Middle Ages (see Disputations and Judah ha-Levi). In order to be able to "unite all mankind into one bond" (New-Year's liturgy and Gen. R. lxxx viii.), it must form "one bond" (Lev. R. xxx.). It must, to use Isaiah's words, constitute a tree ever pruned while "the holy seed is the substance thereof" (Isa. vi. 13); its watchword being: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zech. iv. 6).
For Karaitic Judaism see Karaites.
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Geiger, Das Judenthum und Seine Geschichte, Breslau, 1865;
idem, Nachgelassene Schriften, i.-v.;
M. Güdemann, Was 1st Judenthum? Vienna, 1902;
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Margolis, The Theological Aspect of Reform Judaism, in Year Book of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1903, pp. 185-338;
Claude Monteflore, Hibbert Lectures, London, 1892;
idem, Liberal Judaism, ib. 1903;
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