Tuesday, February 3, 2009
What are the main idea's behind Judaism
The main idea's that are supposed to be followed by Jews are based on two relationships; a person's relationship with G-D and a person's relationship with his/her fellow human beings. The Torah or Bible is something that describes how a person should interact with G-D and how a person should interact with a fellow person. However, if the written Torah were the only guide these interactions would remain unknown and therefore it is essential to understand that the Torah has another aspect to it that was not written and this is what Orthodox Jews call the Oral Law. Within the Oral Law are explanations, usually based on scripture, but expounded upon by the scholars as to what the Torah or Bible means. For example, the Torah refers to keeping the Sabbath holy and not doing work on the Sabbath. How does one know what work is not to be done? Does it mean I can watch TV all day, but I should not go to my job? Does it mean that I can not do chores around the house? Or rather was this statement made in congruence with the Oral Law and that when G-D told Moshe (Moses) no work should be done, G-D had in mind exactly what work should not be done and that is the work specified by the Oral Law?
Now, since the Torah or Bible was given along with the Oral law we can now delve into what the basics of the Oral law teaches us through the medium of the five books of Moses. If one were to look at all the different opinions of why the commandments were given then, I think, it is clear what the point of the commandments are according to all opinions. The commandments that G-D gave to the Jewish people all have one goal in mind, to connect the Jewish people to G-D. Whether that is through man being kind to animals, other men, or just performing acts that seemingly have no reason the commandments bring us closer to G-D.
There are two ways to bring ourselves closer to G-D, by realizing how great G-D is through understanding Him or to realize how great G-D is through his creations. The latter is usually the best way for most people to connect to Hashem since trying to comprehend the greatness of G-D is very difficult and most people do not have hours just to ponder about Him. However, it is easy to recognize the greatness of G-D's creations, especially a fellow human being. By giving respect to all of G-D's creations and recognizing their purpose in this world we are, in fact, giving recognition to the greatness of G-D. I believe these ideas are the building blocks for one who wishes to delve further into the Jewish Philosophy.