Judaism 101 – Is Judaism A Religion? The Story Of Mount Sinai
According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary , a religion is “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. It is a particular system of faith and worship.” Many, but not all Jews (you can be an atheist Jew) believe in God, so in this sense it is a religion.
Is Judaism a race? According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, a race is “a group descended from a common ancestor.” Although it is possible to convert to Judaism, Jews are born into it. In this sense it is a race.
Is Judaism a culture? According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, a culture is “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively…”. Although the so called “collectivity” is diversified, it is certainly embedded in Judaism.
Is Judaism an ethnic group? According to the Babylon English Dictionary an ethnic group is “of different racial and social groups; of people from different countries”. This applies to Jews as well.
Is Judaism a nation? According to Babylon English Dictionary a nation is “people of a certain country or nationality”. This too applies to the Jewish people.
Most people will agree that it is all of the above with volumes of books defining each with its different and complex interpretations.
On the other hand, the Talmud defines Judaism in a very simplistic way. The Talmud in tractate Shabbat 31a tells the following well-known story of Hillel:
A certain gentile came before Shammai and said to him, “convert me to Judaism on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.” Shammai pushed the gentile away with the stick that was in his hand. The gentile then came before Hillel, and asked him the same thing (to teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot) . Hillel replied, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah while the rest is commentary; go and learn it.”
Is Judaism A Religion? – The Story Of Mount Sinai. How can Hillel’s answer, one sentence, be true? How can it define and encompass all the complex and in many cases contradicting concepts in Judaism? Below, you can hear Rabbi’s Bukiet’s definition of “The Story Of Mount Sinai”.
The story of Mount Sinai is about the encounter between God and the Jews at which God gave the Ten Commandments via Moses to the Jews. How does this story define Judaism – Is Judaism a Religion? How is it related to the definition given in Hillel’s story?
You are invited to listen to Rabbi Bukiet’s Judaism 101-Is Judaism A Religion – The Story Of Sinai.
“Judaism 101 – Is Judaism A Religion? – The Story Of Mount Sinai”.
Rabbi Alti Bukiet
(Chabad Center of Lexington, MA)
Please click on the box image below to hear Rabbi Bukiet
Please Feel Free To Comment Below.
To sign up for the Online Conversation, type your name and email below.