studying judaism in english

Discussion in 'Judaism' started by vinny, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. vinny

    vinny Member

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    i would like to study judaism but i dont neccesarily want to learn to read hebrew right now, i know there are translations and such, so does anyone know of any good translations and where i should begin to study this religion?
     
  2. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    you might try the Judaism 101 site and About Judaism for starters, at least that will make more sense than just jumping straight into the sacred texts. i would advise you to get a number of basic guides, everything from the "dummies" book to donin's "to be a jew" to herman wouk's "this is my G!D" to the work of rabbi bleich. basically, don't take any one book or website or rabbi as authoritative or correct and feel free to ask as many questions as you like, here or anywhere else.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  3. vinny

    vinny Member

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    thankyou for the links bb.

    my main interest in judaism understanding the core of the belief system, i want to read the texts for myself in english and i want to understand the influence of judaism on other religions.

    something im not really interested in but is apparently an issue is race. what is the mainstream oppinion, obviously you can practice judaism but is there a race of people descended from jacob who are that one race? the first page i read on judaism 101 talked about this and now im curious to what others think, ive heard somewhat stupid things from "jews" in the past but im curious what others here believe.

    also, from what i know of bloodlines and lineage etc from studying the bible and growing up christian it must mean something but im just unsure how true it really is, and its not neccesarily important again to me, but it seems to be important in this religion, maybe im wrong?
     
  4. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    hi vinny,

    the core of the belief system is, paradoxically enough, easier to understand by reading one of the books or websites i suggested rather than by reading the actual texts. as for the influence of judaism on other religions, how long have you got? anything more specific? it's a broad area.

    because judaism is passed down through the line of the mother, we have become over the centuries a distinct ethnic group, but because of our wide geographic dispersion we come in every shape, colour, size and variety. although we do not seek converts, it is possible to convert and, over the years, this too has added to our gene pool, as have intermarriage and everything from casual sex to rape, i should note. there are certain genetic factors that have come down in from our ancestors, however, which include both markers like the characteristic haplotypes (i think the term is) of the cohen/levi clan/tribe as well as hereditary diseases like tay-sachs. basically, not all of us are descended from jacob, but who can say how many? if you've come across the "twelve tribes" (really thirteen, because one tribe was divided in half), ten of them were carried off to assyria in 722 bce and not heard from again (although there are plenty of theories about where they may have ended up, anywhere from kashmir to japan to africa to america!) and of the remaining three, only one (the cohen-levi heritage) is certain exactly who it's descended from as this goes through the male line back to the families of aaron and indeed levi and jacob himself. and, obviously, who you are descended from doesn't necessarily indicate whether you are observant or religious or even know you're jewish in the first place. if you're not a levi or cohen, who know who they are, you are a "yisrael", from either the tribe of judah or benjamin, but very few of us know which, i don't know which i am.

    contrary to what you may have heard, some jews do say stupid things and some of those stupid things are racist. we have our arseholes just like everyone else.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  5. vinny

    vinny Member

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    i read through judaism 101 for a bit im still reading it i stopped on "the role of women" which is interesting. from what ive read this religion is really interesting because alot of my "personal" beliefs seem to be fundamental to judaism.

    i havent studied islam, but i know that obviously islam, christianity and judaism have alot of similarities. im curious about everything so its hard to narrow anything down, but one thing im really interested is the "world after" idea in regards to the future of this world not an afterlife, the site said that judaism does believe in the soul and the afterlife but that what that is specifically is open to interpretation, if thats "correct" or not i dunno. the idea of something similar to karma i suppose they mentioned about angels and demons being created everytime you do a good or bad act was interesting also

    so anyway, what you say about race is about what i thought, im not sure how that correlates to the actual religion in this time but im sure ill learn more. honestly this will be ongoing as ive wanted to study judaism for quite some time now and it will just be something ill continue to study untill i get enough i suppose lol
     
  6. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    true, but a lot of differences too. islam and judaism are more similar from a legal and practical point of view but both islam and christianity are universalist (ie they think what's true for them is true for everyone) and therefore proselytising, whereas we are also particularist and don't proselytise.

    judaism speculates about what happens after you die but as we can't really know, we aren't definite about it. there are opinions which support reincarnation, as well. we prefer to concentrate on doing right while we're alive in the assumption that it'll be sorted out when we die.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  7. vinny

    vinny Member

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    what you say about christianity and islam of course youd have to agree and that is one of the biggest turnoffs for me, you know growing up a christian its almost as if fear is a big motivation for even being involved for alot of those people and they know that and exploit it often. and thats just sad to me, and also a bit unsettling considering alot of people seemingly wouldnt care about anything if they didnt have that fear of god lol

    anyway yes i read that part about reincarnation, really i want to learn more about the world after as it pertains to this worlds future and the origins of that idea
     
  8. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Vinny,

    Let me know if you are interested in talking about reincarnation. I am a believer in reincarnation, and I have partial memories from two previous reincarnations.
     
  9. vinny

    vinny Member

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    "Modern scholars suggest that the messianic concept was introduced later in the history of Judaism, during the age of the prophets. They note that the messianic concept is not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible).
    However, traditional Judaism maintains that the messianic idea has always been a part of Judaism. The mashiach is not mentioned explicitly in the Torah, because the Torah was written in terms that all people could understand, and the abstract concept of a distant, spiritual, future reward was beyond the comprehension of some people. However, the Torah contains several references to "the End of Days" (acharit ha-yamim), which is the time of the mashiach; thus, the concept of mashiach was known in the most ancient times"


    this is from judaism 101. which is interesting considering the torah was written after the jews had spent a considerable amount of time in egypt where even commoners understood the concept of life and death and the role of the soul in the afterlife and the complexities of the process.


    with that when was it first written down that we know of the idea of the mashiach? obviously it had to have been before jesus because there wouldnt have been anything to argue about otherwise... and if it was an oral teaching, do you know if it has its roots in sumeria or mesopotamia or similar civilizations maybe even in egyptian theology? i ask because out of curiosity if it could be documented anywhere earlier rather then later of the writing of the talmud where i assume it would have first been written down?
     
  10. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    well, early sources can be found within the Torah itself, assuming certain interpretative parameters, but it is certainly around by the time of the prophets - remember, the mashiah is also from the davidic line of kings. however, the idea of having a king in the first place is actually presented as a concession to the jews.

    indeed, but there, how important you were when you were alive determined how well you could afford to be treated after you died. G!D Doesn't take bribes, though - and we don't hold with the idea that you can "take it with you". besides, the egyptians didn't necessarily "understand" what *happens*. they just had beliefs about it, widespread or not, which we think are not only misguided but actually quite immoral. having beliefs about the afterlife doesn't mean you understand it. we don't even claim that much.

    it might be the reference in daniel (or is it nehemiah, i don't remember) to cyrus, king of the persians, who allowed us to return to israel after the babylonian exile, who is described as "My anointed", mashiah. obviously it doesn't mean the same there as it comes to mean later on.

    the messiah as "hidden king", which we do share nowadays with just about every culture on the planet (from jesus to the hidden imam to king arthur to isildur's heir) is an extremely old idea, i don't know how old. no doubt we were influenced by it somehow. anyway, it's certainly older than the talmud.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  11. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Hare Krishna Yogi

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    Coincidently, I just got a copy of:

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Crumb
     
  12. vinny

    vinny Member

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    bb, interesting response.

    "G!D Doesn't take bribes, though - and we don't hold with the idea that you can "take it with you". besides, the egyptians didn't necessarily "understand" what *happens*. they just had beliefs about it, widespread or not, which we think are not only misguided but actually quite immoral. having beliefs about the afterlife doesn't mean you understand it. we don't even claim that much."

    yes, i agree but what i was getting at wasnt anyones understanding of death etc but that even the commoners understood the concept. on judaism 101 it says in the quote i posted that certain things like this werent written down because some people..id assume commoners? wouldnt understand it, and i just thought that was interesting considering the history
     
  13. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    i think all i can respond is that for us, even the common people were focused on the here and now and the creation, piece by piece, action by action, of a moral structure for society - the hereafter, by contrast, was not really something even the contemporary "thought leaders" would spend a lot of time on compared to whether something was a good or bad *practice*.

    does that make sense?

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  14. vinny

    vinny Member

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    absolutely makes sense, politically and socially. and on a personal level for a common person it must have been more important back then compared to now id imagine. my curiosity was of course on this idea of the messiah and the "world after" not in the spiritual sense of heaven etc but how/when/why this view was incorporated into traditional judaism and the effect it had on the day to day thought process and spiritual beliefs of the average jew.

    anyway, ive been reading some interesting things which kind of leave me with more questions then answers from that site, but i still want to read the torah and talmud in english aswell as some of these other books they mention like the "zohar"

    although i dont know how constructive that will be in regards to the zohar considering what i read on that site about it. it sounds as if it would be futile to attempt to study but the first two definately if i can find a good source id also like to compare them to the others in time and study further.

    in the meantime im enjoying learning about judaism, the symbols, the ceremonies and the "services" of the synagogue is interesting.
     
  15. Dogbrain

    Dogbrain Well-Known Member

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    People full of hate and fear, and devoid of love, invent a God who is just like them. If they are unwilling to respond to love, they will deny a God who reaches out in love and substitute a God who threatens and bullies.
     
  16. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule Well-Known Member

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    The five volume JPS Torah Commentary is expensive but doable when purchased one volume at a time. It is an exceptional resource, and I would strongly encourage any serious student to start here.

    L'shalom, JS
     
  17. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    bookmarking!!!! I've been studying for several years now and only understand the edges of this remarkable way of life and what it has to contribute to making our world a better place by making us better people ... it is the values of individuals, families, and communities and our relationship to g-d that tug at my heart .... I read a little lesson daily on how we use our words and about how hurtful and harmful even the slightest gossip can be, and it makes me think of how I apply this to everyone around me .... baby steps, but very important ones ... of course we don't all live this way, but the teachings are all there .... I'm bookmarking this discussion just to follow it .... he hawai'i au, po
     
  18. vinny

    vinny Member

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    im curious, obviously the prophet Elijah is extremely important in judaism? as is his disciple elisha?

    im unaware of anyone doing the things these two did besides jesus, not to mention elijah never really died, or did he?

    im curious is there anymore written about elijah and elisha outside of Kings? and also how do you explain what these guys did? its baffling reading these things even now, you know growing up reading about jesus you just accept it like whatever he raised the dead etc but you know..i could see how maybe people were just really ignorant back then and maybe these guys were just doctors or something..

    not that im putting faith aside obviously youd have to take alot on faith not being there, but in kings it says when elisha died later a dead man who was being taken to be buried got thrown into elishas tomb and brushed against his bones and suddenly came back to life.. that just sounds like nothing to do with faith or divine intervention and more to do with myth and superstition unless there is some reasoning behind it other then hes so holy

    also does anyone know how much if any evidence there is that the jerusalem that is now in israel is the same jerusalem as in ancient times. if this is so wouldnt that make it pretty much the oldest living city in the world?
     
  19. itzik770

    itzik770 New Member

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    Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh started with new video series of 15-minutes essays on weekly Torah reading.
    The first is on parshat Shmot:
    Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh on Parshat Shemot:"The 7 faces of Moses' goodness"
    (I can't post link, pls search on You Tube)

    It's very good between beginners but also covers some advanced topics too.
     
  20. bob x

    bob x Well-Known Member

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    Link to Rabbi Ginsburgh's talk
     

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