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Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, known as the Patriarchs, are both the physical and spiritual ancestors of Judaism. They founded the religion now known as Judaism, and their descendants are the Jewish People. Abraham Abraham was born in the city of Ur in Babylonia in the year 1948 from Creation (circa 1800 BCE). He was the son of Terach, an idol merchant, but from his early childhood, he questioned the belief of his father and sought the truth. He came to believe that the entire universe was the work of a single Creator, and he began to teach this belief to others. Eventually, God talked to Abraham, and made him an offer...that if Abraham would leave his home and his family, then God would make of him a great nation and bless him. Abraham accepted the offer. And so, Abraham enabled the covenant between God and the Jewish People to be established. The covenant was basically, a contract, which involved the rights and obligations of the Jewish People to God and vice versa. Abraham, adopted a nomadic lifestyle, traveling through what is now the land of Israel for many years. God had promised this land to Abraham's descendants. Abraham was concerned, because he had no children and he was very old. Abraham's beloved wife, Sarah, knew that she was past child-bearing years, so she offered her servant, Hagar, as a wife to Abraham (which was actually a common practice back then). She bore Abraham a son...Ishmael, who according to both Muslim and Jewish tradition, is the ancestor of the Arabs. When Abraham was 100, God promised Abraham a son by Sarah. Sarah bore Abraham another son, Isaac. Isaac was the ancestor of the Jewish People. Isaac Isaac was the subject of one of the tests of Faith that God had given to Abraham: God had commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as an offering. This test actually shows Abraham's true demonstration of his as well as Isaac's faith in God (because supposedly, Isaac knew that he was going to be sacrificed, and did not resist, and was united with his father in dedication). At the last moment, God sent an angel to stop the sacrifice. Judaism uses this story as evidence that God does not like human sacrifice. Isaac later married Rebecca, who bore him two sons: Jacob and Esau. Jacob (Israel) Jacob and his brother Esau were at war with each other even before they were born. Esau was Isaac's favorite, because he was a good hunter, but the more spiritual of the two boys, Jacob, was Rebecca's favorite. Esau had little regard for the spiritual heritage of his forefathers, and sold his birthright of spiritual leadership to Jacob for a bowl of food. When Isaac was growing old, Rebecca tricked him into giving Jacob a blessing meant for Esau. Esau was angry due to this, so Jacob fled to live with his uncle, where he met his wife Rachel. Jacob fathered 12 sons and one daughter (with various wives). After many years living with and working for his father-in-law/uncle, Jacob returned to his homeland and sought reconciliation with his brother Esau. The night before he went to meet his brother he was alone with God. That night, he wrestled with a man until the break of day. Jacob demanded a blessing from the man, and the "man" revealed himself as an angel. He blessed Jacob and gave him the name "Israel", meaning "the one who wrestled with God" or "the Champion of God.". The next day, Jacob met Esau and was welcomed by him. Jacob fathered 12 sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin. They are the ancestors of the tribes of Israel. Joseph is the father of two tribes: Manasseh and Ephraim. Joseph's older brothers were jealous of him, because he was the favorite of their father, because he claimed to have visions that would lead them all. They sold Joseph into slavery and convinced their father that Joseph was dead. But this was all part of God's plan: Joseph was brought into Egypt. His ability to interpret visions earned him a place in the Pharaoh's court, which helped him to settle his family in the land of Egypt. The Exodus and the Giving of the Torah As centuries passed, the descendants of Israel became slaves in Egypt. They suffered greatly under the hand of Pharaohs. God decided to take the children of God away from the land of Egypt under the leadership of Moses God led them on a journey through the wilderness to Mount Sinai. Here, God revealed the Torah to his people. According to Jewish tradition, every Jewish soul that would ever be born was present at that moment, and agreed to be bound to this covenant. Major Jewish Beliefs 1. God exists 2. God is one and unique 3. God is incorporeal 4. God is eternal 5. Prayer is directed to God and only to God 6. The words of the Prophets are true 7. Moses?s prophesies are true, and Moses was the greatest of the prophets. 8. The written Torah and the Oral Torah were given to Moses 9. The Messiah will come 10. The dead will be resurrected Holy Books The Jewish bible goes by many names (to Christians, but not acceptable by Jews), including "The Hebrew Scriptures," "The Hebrew Bible," and "The Old Testament". Jews call it TANAKH, it has three sections: Torah (Pentateuch), Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). The Tanakh contains 39 books in it. It is said that Moses received two Torahs on Mount Sinai. One, known as the Written Torah, contains the Five Books of Moses known as the Pentateuch. The second, known as the Oral Torah, contains the Mishnah and the Gemara (which is actually a discussion of the Mishnah which took place in the academies of Babylonia between 200 and 600 CE). There are two Talmuds: one was written in Babylonia and the other in Palestine. First one is known as the Talmud Bavli, and the later one is known as the Talmud Yerushalmi. When people talk about "The Talmud," they are referring to the Babylonian Talmud "Talmud Bavli". The Mishnah and Gemara comprise the Talmud, and the Talmud serves as the core of Rabbi Tradition. Jewish Holidays It refers to the celebration of the Jewish New Year. The holiday is on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei (usually in September or October). It marks the beginning of a ten-day period of prayer, self-examination and repentance, which culminate (reach the highest point) on the fast day of Yom Kippur. These ten days are referred to as Yamin Noraim, the Days of Awe or the High Holy Days. Rosh HaShanah is a deeply religious occasion. There is also a service done before Rosh HaShanah. S'lichot (meaning forgiveness), refers to the prayers recited by Jews prior to the High Holiday season. It is a sort of preparation for the ten days of reflection and self-examination. Yom Kippur ("Day of Atonement")- It refers to the annual Jewish custom of fasting, prayer and repentance. This is considered to be the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Fasting is seen as fulfilling this biblical commandment. The Yom Kippur fast also enables Jews to put aside their physical desires and to concentrate on spiritual needs through prayer, repentance and self-improvement. It is customary in the days before Yom Kippur for Jews to seek out friends and family whom they have wronged and personally ask for their forgiveness. Sukkot ("Booths" or "Huts") - It refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest as well as conmemorates the forty years of Jewish wandering in the desert after Mount Sinai with Moses. Sukkot is celebrated five days after Yom Kippur on the 15th of Tishrei (See Rosh Hashanah). One tradition, is to build a sukkah and to ?dwell in a booth/hut? (literally). A sukkah is often made by Jews during this festival, and it is common practice for some to eat and even live in these temporary dwellings during Sukkot. Simchat Torah ("Rejoicing In The Law")- celebrates the completion of the annual reading of the Torah. Simchat Torah is a joyous festival, in which Jews affirm their view of the Torah as a tree of life. Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and carried or danced around the synagogue seven times. Chanukah ("Dedication") - It refers to the eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Macabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the liberation of the Temple in Jerusalem. The celebration of Chanukah centers around the lighting of the chanukiah, a special sort of candleholder for Chanukah; unique foods and special songs and games. Tu BiSh'vat ("New Year of the Trees") The holiday is on the fifteenth of Sh'vat. This holiday was a way for Jews to symbolically bind themselves to their former homeland by eating foods that could be found in Israel. In the sixteenth and seventeenth century a ritual for Tu BiSh'vat was created, similar to the Passover. Today, Tu BiSh'vat has also become a tree planting festival in Israel, in which both Israelis and Jews around the world plant trees in honor or in memory of a loved one or friend. Purim -It is celebrated by the reading of the Scroll of Esther, known in Hebrew as the Megillat Esther, which tells the story of Purim. Under the rule of King Ahashuerus, Haman(the King's prime minister), plots to exterminate all of the Jews of Persia. His plan is foiled by Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai, who ultimately save the Jews of the land from destruction. When the megillah is read aloud, whenever Haman?s name is mentioned, there is constant booing and noisemaking (to show their dislike for him). Over the centuries, Haman became the embodiment of every anti-Semite feeling in every land where Jews were oppressed. The significance in Purim lies not so much in how it began, but as how it became as a symbol for all the odds that Jewish People have faced over centuries. Pesach ("Passover") -It?s a major Jewish spring festival, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. The ritual of this holiday centers around a special home service called the seder (meaning "order") and a meal; not being allowed to eat chametz (leaven); and matzah (an unleavened bread). Yom HaShoah ("Holocaust Remembrance Day") - It occurs on the 27th of Nissan. "Shoah", which means catastrophe or destruction in Hebrew, refers to the mass killings that were committed against the Jewish people during World War II. This is a memorial day for those who died in the Shoah. Shavuot ("Weeks") - it marks the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Shavuot, also known as the Festival of the Giving of the Torah, dates from biblical times. The Torah tells us it took exactly forty-nine days for the Jewish ancestors to travel from Egypt to the foot of Mount where they were to receive the Torah.
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History of Judaism, Rituals, and Holidays
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History Of Judaism, Rituals, And Holidays

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              Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, known as the Patriarchs, are both the physical and spiritual ancestors of Judaism. They founded the religion now known as Judaism, and their descendants are the Jewish People.
             
              Abraham
             
              Abraham was born in the city of Ur in Babylonia in the year 1948 from Creation (circa 1800 BCE). He was the son of Terach, an idol merchant, but from his early childhood, he questioned the belief of his father and sought the truth. He came to believe that the entire universe was the work of a single Creator, and he began to teach this belief to others.
             
              Eventually, God talked to Abraham, and made him an offer. . . that if Abraham would leave his home and his family, then God would make of him a great nation and bless him. Abraham accepted the offer. And so, Abraham enabled the covenant between God and the Jewish People to be established.
             
              The covenant was basically, a contract, which involved the rights and obligations of the Jewish People to God and vice versa.
             
              Abraham, adopted a nomadic lifestyle, traveling through what is now the land of Israel for many years. God had promised this land to Abraham's descendants.
             
              Abraham was concerned, because he had no children and he was very old. Abraham's beloved wife, Sarah, knew that she was past child-bearing years, so she offered her servant, Hagar, as a wife to Abraham (which was actually a common practice back then). She bore Abraham a son. . . Ishmael, who according to both Muslim and Jewish tradition, is the ancestor of the Arabs.
             
              When Abraham was 100, God promised Abraham a son by Sarah. Sarah bore Abraham another son, Isaac. Isaac was the ancestor of the Jewish People.
             
              Isaac
             
              Isaac was the subject of one of the tests of Faith that God had given to Abraham: God had commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as an offering.
             
              This test actually shows Abraham's true demonstration of his as well as Isaac's faith in God (because supposedly, Isaac knew that he was going to be sacrificed, and did not resist, and was united with his father in dedication). At the last moment, God sent an angel to stop the sacrifice.
             
              Judaism uses this story as evidence that God does not like human sacrifice.
             
              Isaac later married Rebecca, who bore him two sons: Jacob and Esau.
             
              Jacob (Israel)
             
              Jacob and his brother Esau were at war with each other even before they were born. Esau was Isaac's favorite, because he was a good hunter, but the more spiritual of the two boys, Jacob, was Rebecca's favorite.
             
              Esau had little regard for the spiritual heritage of his forefathers, and sold his birthright of spiritual leadership to Jacob for a bowl of food.
             
              When Isaac was growing old, Rebecca tricked him into giving Jacob a blessing meant for Esau. Esau was angry due to this, so Jacob fled to live with his uncle, where he met his wife Rachel. Jacob fathered 12 sons and one daughter (with various wives).
             
              After many years living with and working for his father-in-law/uncle, Jacob returned to his homeland and sought reconciliation with his brother Esau. The night before he went to meet his brother he was alone with God. That night, he wrestled with a man until the break of day. Jacob demanded a blessing from the man, and the "man" revealed himself as an angel. He blessed Jacob and gave him the name "Israel", meaning "the one who wrestled with God" or "the Champion of God. ". The next day, Jacob met Esau and was welcomed by him.
             
              Jacob fathered 12 sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin. They are the ancestors of the tribes of Israel. Joseph is the father of two tribes: Manasseh and Ephraim.
             
              Joseph's older brothers were jealous of him, because he was the favorite of their father, because he claimed to have visions that would lead them all. They sold Joseph into slavery and convinced their father that Joseph was dead. But this was all part of God's plan: Joseph was brought into Egypt. His ability to interpret visions earned him a place in the Pharaoh's court, which helped him to settle his family in the land of Egypt.
             
              The Exodus and the Giving of the Torah
             
              As centuries passed, the descendants of Israel became slaves in Egypt. They suffered greatly under the hand of Pharaohs. God decided to take the children of God away from the land of Egypt under the leadership of Moses
             
              God led them on a journey through the wilderness to Mount Sinai. Here, God revealed the Torah to his people. According to Jewish tradition, every Jewish soul that would ever be born was present at that moment, and agreed to be bound to this covenant.
             
              Major Jewish Beliefs
             
              1. God exists
             
              2. God is one and unique
             
              3. God is incorporeal
             
              4. God is eternal
             
              5. Prayer is directed to God and only to God
             
              6. The words of the Prophets are true
             
              7. Moses? s prophesies are true, and Moses was the greatest of the prophets.
             
              8. The written Torah and the Oral Torah were given to Moses
             
              9. The Messiah will come
             
              10. The dead will be resurrected
             
              Holy Books
             
              The Jewish bible goes by many names (to Christians, but not acceptable by Jews), including "The Hebrew Scriptures," "The Hebrew Bible," and "The Old Testament". Jews call it TANAKH, it has three sections: Torah (Pentateuch), Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). The Tanakh contains 39 books in it.
             
              It is said that Moses received two Torahs on Mount Sinai. One, known as the Written Torah, contains the Five Books of Moses known as the Pentateuch. The second, known as the Oral Torah, contains the Mishnah and the Gemara (which is actually a discussion of the Mishnah which took place in the academies of Babylonia between 200 and 600 CE).
             
              There are two Talmuds: one was written in Babylonia and the other in Palestine. First one is known as the Talmud Bavli, and the later one is known as the Talmud Yerushalmi. When people talk about "The Talmud," they are referring to the Babylonian Talmud "Talmud Bavli".
             
              The Mishnah and Gemara comprise the Talmud, and the Talmud serves as the core of Rabbi Tradition.
             
              Jewish Holidays
             
              It refers to the celebration of the Jewish New Year. The holiday is on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei (usually in September or October). It marks the beginning of a ten-day period of prayer, self-examination and repentance, which culminate (reach the highest point) on the fast day of Yom Kippur. These ten days are referred to as Yamin Noraim, the Days of Awe or the High Holy Days.
             
              Rosh HaShanah is a deeply religious occasion.
             
              There is also a service done before Rosh HaShanah. S'lichot (meaning forgiveness), refers to the prayers recited by Jews prior to the High Holiday season. It is a sort of preparation for the ten days of reflection and self-examination.
             
              Yom Kippur ("Day of Atonement")- It refers to the annual Jewish custom of fasting, prayer and repentance. This is considered to be the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Fasting is seen as fulfilling this biblical commandment. The Yom Kippur fast also enables Jews to put aside their physical desires and to concentrate on spiritual needs through prayer, repentance and self-improvement. It is customary in the days before Yom Kippur for Jews to seek out friends and family whom they have wronged and personally ask for their forgiveness.
             
              Sukkot ("Booths" or "Huts") - It refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest as well as conmemorates the forty years of Jewish wandering in the desert after Mount Sinai with Moses. Sukkot is celebrated five days after Yom Kippur on the 15th of Tishrei (See Rosh Hashanah). One tradition, is to build a sukkah and to ? dwell in a booth/hut? (literally). A sukkah is often made by Jews during this festival, and it is common practice for some to eat and even live in these temporary dwellings during Sukkot.
             
              Simchat Torah ("Rejoicing In The Law")- celebrates the completion of the annual reading of the Torah. Simchat Torah is a joyous festival, in which Jews affirm their view of the Torah as a tree of life. Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and carried or danced around the synagogue seven times.
             
              Chanukah ("Dedication") - It refers to the eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Macabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B. C. E. and the liberation of the Temple in Jerusalem. The celebration of Chanukah centers around the lighting of the chanukiah, a special sort of candleholder for Chanukah; unique foods and special songs and games.
             
              Tu BiSh'vat ("New Year of the Trees") The holiday is on the fifteenth of Sh'vat. This holiday was a way for Jews to symbolically bind themselves to their former homeland by eating foods that could be found in Israel. In the sixteenth and seventeenth century a ritual for Tu BiSh'vat was created, similar to the Passover. Today, Tu BiSh'vat has also become a tree planting festival in Israel, in which both Israelis and Jews around the world plant trees in honor or in memory of a loved one or friend.
             
              Purim -It is celebrated by the reading of the Scroll of Esther, known in Hebrew as the Megillat Esther, which tells the story of Purim.
             
              Under the rule of King Ahashuerus, Haman(the King's prime minister), plots to exterminate all of the Jews of Persia. His plan is foiled by Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai, who ultimately save the Jews of the land from destruction. When the megillah is read aloud, whenever Haman? s name is mentioned, there is constant booing and noisemaking (to show their dislike for him).
             
              Over the centuries, Haman became the embodiment of every anti-Semite feeling in every land where Jews were oppressed. The significance in Purim lies not so much in how it began, but as how it became as a symbol for all the odds that Jewish People have faced over centuries.
             
              Pesach ("Passover") -It? s a major Jewish spring festival, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. The ritual of this holiday centers around a special home service called the seder (meaning "order") and a meal; not being allowed to eat chametz (leaven); and matzah (an unleavened bread).
             
              Yom HaShoah ("Holocaust Remembrance Day") - It occurs on the 27th of Nissan. "Shoah", which means catastrophe or destruction in Hebrew, refers to the mass killings that were committed against the Jewish people during World War II. This is a memorial day for those who died in the Shoah.
             
              Shavuot ("Weeks") - it marks the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
             
              Shavuot, also known as the Festival of the Giving of the Torah, dates from biblical times. The Torah tells us it took exactly forty-nine days for the Jewish ancestors to travel from Egypt to the foot of Mount where they were to receive the Torah.
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