Aviva Directory » Faith & Spirituality » World Religions » Abrahamic Religions » Judaism » Beliefs & Practices

In Judaism, actions are more important than beliefs. Although there is a place for beliefs, Judaism focuses on the relationships between the Creator, Israel, and mankind.

Although the various denominations and sects within Judaism hold to distinctive beliefs and practices, there is no dogma, or mandatory beliefs within Judaism itself.

In constructing the defining documents, the rabbis were not so concerned with the precise definition of correct belief in Judaism. Taking an apodictic approach to the belief in God, His Revelation through the Torah, and His choice of Israel as His chosen people, they defined Judaism in terms of the divine commandments (mitzvot) that were handed down from God.

One of the most renowned authors of rabbinic Judaism was Judah ha-Nasi, Patriarch of the Jewish community in Palestine around 200 CE. The Code created under the direction of Rabbi Judah was the Mishna, which complements scripture as the foundation document of rabbinic Judaism. In six volumes, it forms the earliest systematic statement of Judaism, dealing with values, ethical principles, laws, and rules to live by.

Also contributing to rabbinic Judaism were a group of anonymous scholars known collectively as the Stamaim, or the nameless ones, who recorded, selected, and edited the work of three other groups (Tannaim, Amoraim, Seboraim) to form the Gemara which, together with the Mishna, form the Talmud.

The Talmud is the heart of Judaism. After the Bible, it is the book most studied by Jews, and the Bible is interpreted in light of the Talmud.

Also significant to the development of Jewish beliefs and doctrine was Saadia Gaon, a Jewish philosopher in what is now Iraq. In his The Book of Doctrines and Beliefs, he held that God does what is rational and just because it is rational and just, rather than that it is rational and just because God does it. Although Saadia edited the Hebrew prayer book and composed some Hebrew liturgical poems, he wrote mostly in Arabic, including several commentaries and an Arabic translation of the Hebrew scriptures.

Also significant were Rashi and Abraham Ibn Ezra, two of the foremost commentators on the Talmud. Other important contributors include Moses Maimonides, Abraham Abulafia, Gracia Nasi, Baal Shem Tov, and Moses Mendelssohn.

However, as noted above, Judaism tends to focus on the way in which the Jewish people live in the world than on analyzing the nature of God. Nevertheless, Judaism was the first religious tradition to teach monotheism.

Although Jewish scholars have certainly considered the nature of God, of man, the universe, life, and the afterlife, there is no official or definitive belief on these subjects. There is room for personal opinion on these matters, as Judaism is more interested in actions than beliefs.

The focus of this category is on the beliefs and practices of Judaism. This might include websites that focus on the beliefs that are common to most or all of the various Jewish sects and denominations, those that focus on the Jewish holy days, or on the Kabbalah, which is a school of thought that originated in Judaism.

Websites whose purpose is to introduce Judaism to outsiders or to those who may have recently converted to Judaism should be submitted to the Introduction to Judaism category, while those offering a wide variety of resources related to the Jewish religion would be appropriate in the Judaism Resources category.



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