What were the major beliefs of Judaism?

  • Answer 1
This is a difficult question because Judaism has many sects and within each sect there are many gray areas. This is because every community has their own rabbi that they choose to follow.
1. Reconstructionist Judaism - Started by Mordechai Kaplan in the early 1900's. It focuses more on the values and traditions of Judaism, does not require a belief in God and rejects the tradition that Jews are a chosen people.
2. Reform Judaism - Started by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise in the late 1800's. Reform Jews believe in God, zionism and divine inspiration of the Torah. They are accepting of homosexuality, promote the same religious roles for men and women and have a looser definition for what constitutes a Jew.
3. Conservative Judaism - Founded by Rabbi Zecharial Frankel in the mid 1800's. They believe in God, the divinity of the Torah and zionism and place an importance on traditional Jewish laws. However they believe in pluralism in Judaism and different congregations can accept different rulings, while still being considered part of religious Judaism. They also recognize human influence in religious texts and see them as religious as well as historical documents.
4. Karaites - These Jews believe only in the written law, not the oral tradition.
5. Orthodox Judaism - This, the original branch of Judaism, believes in God, the divinity of the Torah, and strictly adheres to the traditional laws. They fully accept religious tradition while still interacting in the modern world. Because of this broad definition, individuals who consider themselves orthodox vary in terms of their amount of Torah study (ranging from no studying to studying as a part time job), dress (street clothes vs. always wearing a formal white button down shirt and black suit pants) and minor differences in interpretations of Jewish law (ex: women are not allowed to wear the clothes of a man. So do pants count as men's clothes? where do you draw the line?)
6. Hasidic Judaism - This branch of Judaism is identified as being the most stringent because of their dress. This is a branch of orthodox Judaism that emphasizes singing, dancing and mysticism together with keeping the Torah. It was founded in the 1700's by the Rabbi Baal Shem Tov. They dress as they do in order to mimic the fashion of the rabbis whose teachings they follow.
Just a note, the terms Sephardic and Ashkenazi refer to the person's geographical origin more than their religious belief.
  • Answer 2:
Religious Judaism is based on a written and oral tradition. The written law, the Torah, was transcribed by Moses on Mount Sinai by the divine will of God. It chronicles the beginning of creation up until the Jews entering the land of Israel. The oral law was also given to Moses on Mount Sinai (which was eventually transcribed by Rabbi Judah in 190 C.E in a book called the Mishnah) and it elaborates on the commandments present in the Torah. The rest of the Talmud (containing the Mishna) is essentially a written record of rabbinical analysis and commentary on the laws in the Mishnah. As modern society progresses, Judaism is constantly keeping in pace by extrapolating laws from ancient texts to apply to modern day situations (for example, creating a fire is not allowed on the Sabbath, so what about starting a car engine?). In ancient Israel these laws were decided in a high court of law called the Sanhedrin which ceased due to persecution around 400 C.E. and can only be reinstated if all the Rabbinic leaders were to agree on one person who is qualified to reinstate the Sanhedrin. Even if this ruling body were to exist it would not be able to change existing Jewish laws. This is because changing a Jewish law can only be done by a Sanhedrin that is greater than the preceding one. Therefore, even though today we know science that might challenge the basis for certain Jewish rulings, they can not be removed. New Jewish laws, however, can be made by contemporary Rabbis who have enough recognition and popularity in the Jewish community.
  • Answer 3
The philosophy of Judaism is that this world is a purposeful creation by God, in which all people are tested concerning their use of free-will. We possess a soul which lives on after the body dies and is held responsible for the person's actions. Anyone who is worthy, Jewish or not, can merit reward in the afterlife.
Here is a list of the most basic beliefs of Judaism, as collated by Maimonides:
1. God exists, and is the Creator.
2. God is One and unique.
3. God is not physical.
4. God is eternal.
5. Prayer is to be directed only to God.
6. The words of the prophets are true.
The prophecies of the Hebrew Bible have been coming true throughout history. Even secular archaeologists (the unbiased ones) have stated that the Hebrew Bible is the most accurate of historical records, as the disdainful theories of Wellhausen and Bible-critics of his ilk have been shattered by the archaeologist's spade. A list of Bible verses which were deemed anachronistic but later shown to be perfectly accurate would run into the many hundreds.
7. The prophecies of Moses are true; and he was the greatest prophet.
8. The Torah was given to Moses by God.
9. There will be no other Torah.
10. God knows the thoughts and deeds of all.
11. God rewards the good and punishes the wicked.
12. The Messiah will come.
13. The dead will be resurrected.

The philosophy of Judaism is that this world is a purposeful creation by God, in which all people are tested concerning their use of free-will. We possess a soul which lives on after the body dies and is held responsible for the person's actions. Anyone who is worthy, Jewish or not, can merit reward in the afterlife.

Here is a list of the most basic beliefs of Judaism, as collated by Maimonides:
1. God exists, and is the Creator.
This tells us that the world is not purposeless or chaotic. Life is the result of a deliberate, purposeful, intelligent and kind Creator; not a melancholy chaos or a string of fortuitous accidents.

2. God is One and unique.
This is the basis of all Western monotheistic belief, which was given to the world by Abraham and his descendants. This belief places God at the center of reality and of our world-outlook and thoughts.

3. God is not physical.

This includes the corollary that no person should be worshiped as God or as a god. Judaism has no god-kings, no demigods, no angel who flouts God's will, and no sports-idols, movie-idols etc.


4. God is eternal.
This includes the belief that God's ways are also eternal. God is not capricious, forgetful or fickle. Investing in a relationship with God is the only thing that will bear eternal benefits.


5. Prayer is to be directed only to God.
This also teaches us that no person, government or institution is to be accorded blind trust. We pray directly to God, three times a day; and we recount our shortcomings, ask for our needs, and acknowledge our successes with happy thanks.


6. The words of the prophets are true.

The prophecies of the Hebrew Bible have been coming true throughout history. Even secular archaeologists (the unbiased ones) have stated that the Hebrew Bible is the most accurate of historical records, as the disdainful theories of Wellhausen and Bible-critics of his ilk have been shattered by the archaeologist's spade. A list of Bible verses which were deemed anachronistic but later shown to be perfectly accurate would run into the many hundreds. 7. The prophecies of Moses are true; and he was the greatest prophet.

8. The Torah was given to Moses by God.
These two beliefs are the basis of our attitude towards the Torah: it is the center of our lives. Jews are keeping mitzvot (commands), saying blessings, praying, learning Torah and doing acts of kindness and charity all the time. The Torah is the single greatest thing that a Jew has; given to us to provide knowledge, guidance, inspiration, awe and reverence, advice, law, comfort, history and more. It is the basis of Judaism.


9. There will be no other Torah.
We Jews have been around for 3800 years. New fads, manifestos, beliefs or lifestyles which rear their heads are met by the Jew with a calm, seasoned eye and the proverbial grain of salt. The Torah doesn't change; and every new thing can be measured against the Torah's standards.


10. God knows the thoughts and deeds of all.
11. God rewards the good and punishes the wicked.
These two beliefs provide a vast incentive towards righteousness and, when needed, repentance.
They also form part of the basis of our belief in the afterlife, since this entire world wouldn't be enough to reward a Moses or punish a Hitler.
God is just (Deuteronomy 32:4); and all outstanding accounts are settled after this life.


12. The Messiah will come.
13. The dead will be resurrected.

Judaism is the only ancient religion which taught optimism; and a large part of that optimism was and is based upon the words of the prophets.