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JUDAISM

||Jews of India||

 

Judaism evolved in Egypt about 3,700 years ago. One of the oldest organised religions of the world, it believes in the unity and oneness of the universal Creator. According to Jewish tradition, Abraham was the leader of a tribe named Habiru (Hebrew) in Chaldea in about 2000 BC. He advocated the theory of monotheism and decided to move his tribe to Canaan (Palestine) to propound his theory. Here, the Hebrews mixed freely with local people and eagerly sought converts to their faith. Abraham's grandson Jacob had an encounter with a mysterious being who told Jacob that in future, his name would be known as 'Israel'. The renamed Israel had 12 sons, who later became the progenitors of 12 tribes named after them. These tribes bore the collective name of Bene Israel or 'Children of Israel'. The Israelis grew in number and for approximately two centuries dwelt in Egypt, where they were enslaved. In about 1200 BC, under the leadership of Moses, they escaped and wandered in the wastes of Sinai (Egypt) for a long time. Here, Moses, the first Prophet of god, received revelation of the law, the Ten Commandments, which is today known as the Sefer Torah, the Jewish scripture. After this, a kingdom was founded in Canaan with Jerusalem as its capital. In this city, a temple was built to perform sacred rites.

After King Solomon died, Israel was split into two kingdoms. The Southern Kingdom was made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin and called Judah with Jerusalem as its capital. The remaining 10 tribes -- Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad, Asher, Dan, Naphtali, as well as Ephraim and Manasseh comprised the Northern Kingdom. When the Assyrians invaded the Northern Kingdom, they scattered the Israelites to various parts of their empire, northeast of Israel. Today they are referred to as the ten lost tribes. In the past 2,700 years, historians and Bible scholars have searched for these 10 lost tribes. The Scriptures suggest they will be identified and returned to Israel in the Last Days.

Fundamental Beliefs

The Jews believe in one god as was instituted by Abraham, Who they call Yahweh and from Whom all creation flows. Judaism believes in prophets, of whom Moses was the first. According to tradition, Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. These commandments are a part of the Sefer Torah, the scriptures, and are man's highest law. Every devout Jew follows these commandments till today. According to Jewish belief, after death the soul goes to heaven, or first to hell if it has been sinful. They believe that one day, the Messiah will appear on earth and there will be a Day of Judgement, when the dead shall physically arise to everlasting life. The religion gives great importance to a good moral life and does not advocate asceticism, celibacy or self-imposed suffering, as it believes that the path to salvation is only through good deeds.

Religious Scriptures of Jews

The Sefer Torah consists of the first five books of the Old Testament. There are 613 percepts in the Torah to regulate the daily life of every Jew and this number is symbolised in the threads of the prayer shawls (tsisith) that every adult male Jew is enjoined to wear for prayers. The Talmud, the body of Jewish law, is considered Yahweh's exclusive and immutable law. The Synagogue is the Jewish place of worship.

Main Jewish Sects

The Jews have three principle sects: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformist. While the Orthodox cling to all ancient traditions and forms of religious worship and practices, the founder of the Reform movement adopted the philosophy of changing with the times, and religious services and rituals were considerably shortened. While these radical changes were not approved of by the Orthodox groups, the Conservative Jews followed a middle path, retaining some features of the Orthodox groups but permitting relaxation in certain cases.

||Jews of India|| ||Hinduism|| ||Jainism|| ||Buddhism || ||Sikhism|| ||Islam|| ||Christianity|| ||Zoroastrianism|| ||Judaism || ||Bahai Faith|| ||Other Faiths|| ||Pilgrimages|| ||Famous Religious Personalities||


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