The one great theme of the Jewish religion is that a single, righteous God is at work in the social and natural order, and He has revealed His will in history. There are many different forms of Judaism. Some conservative, some intellectual, others mystical etc. – all are different approaches to the basic beliefs which are as follows:
- The central affirmation of the Jews is: "Hear O Israel, the Lord of our God, the Lord is one." He is unutterably great, holy, righteous and loving.
- The world is God-created and is therefore good. Physical aspects of existence are not to be abandoned but relished with zest – the Jewish ideal is an holy, but not ascetic life.
- Inanimate objects cannot be other than they are, but man creates his own destiny through his choices.
- History is of utmost importance, because God is the ruler of history, which is a teaching experience for man.
- The Law (the Torah) contains the ritualistic and ethical prescriptions, which make man’s collective life, endure.
Although there are some 613 commandments regulating human behaviour, the Ten Commandments have had the greatest impact on the world.(Exodus 20)
- I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any other gods before Me.
- Thou shalt not make any images nor bow down and serve them.
- Thou shalt not take the name the Lord the God in vain.
- Six days shalt thou labour but remember to keep the sabbath day holy.
- Honour thy father and mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness.
- Thou shalt not covet anything.
- The prophets – they offer encouragement and inspiration in the struggle for justice. Their writings convey the will of God to man in different circumstances. They are regarded as the mouthpiece of God.
- The covenant – God (Yahweh*) continues to give Himself in goodness to his people if they in turn pledge themselves to keep His commandments.
There is no official creed or doctrine for Jews to accept, but there are rituals whose aim is the hallowing of life. Piety consists in seeing the whole world as belonging to God and reflecting His glory. By observing tradition one elevates eating, marriage, children, nature etc. to holiness.
*[Note: Re:'Yahweh Email received by us: minor correction by a reader:]
Your descriptions of other religions seem very accurate and respectful. Please note for Judaism, that the term "Yahweh" is an academic reconstruction, and it is considered blasphemous to attempt to pronounce the word written YHWH by all religious Jews.
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