Answer Booklet Judaism Essay

People and Ideas * the contribution to Judaism of ONE significant person or school of thought, other than Abraham or Moses, drawn from: * Isaiah * Hillel (and Shamai) * Beruriah * Rabbi Solomon Isaac (Rashi) * Moses Maimonides * Kabbalah * The Hassidim * Moses Mendelssohn * Abraham Geiger * Rabbi Isaac Abraham Hacohen Kook (Rav Kook) * Jewish Feminism * another person or school of thought significant to Judaism * the effect of that person OR school of thought on JudaismEthics * ONE of the following areas of ethical teaching in Judaism: * bioethics * environmental ethics * sexual ethicsSignificant practices in the life of adherents * ONE significant practice within Judaism drawn from: * death and mourning * marriage * Synagogue services| * explain the contribution to the development and expression of Judaism of ONE significant person OR school of thought, other than Abraham or Moses, drawn from: * Isaiah * Hillel (and Shamai) * Beruriah * Rabbi Solomon Isaac (Rashi) * Moses Maimonides * Kabbalah * The Hassidim * Moses Mendelssohn * Abraham Geiger * Rabbi Isaac Abraham Hacohen Kook (Rav Kook) * Jewish Feminism * another person or school of thought significant to Judaism * analyse the impact of this person OR school of thought on Judaism * describe and explain Jewish ethical teachings on bioethics OR environmental ethics OR sexual ethics * describe ONE significant practice within Judaism drawn from: * death and mourning * marriage * Synagogue services * demonstrate how this practice expresses the beliefs of Judaism * analyse the significance of this practice for both the individual and the Jewish community| Judaism is the belief, religion and religious culture of the Jewish people. It is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic beliefs and has continued almost without change for thousands of years.

While the number of believers is not as large as the other major world religions, Judaism is important because not only the history but also many of the basic beliefs are part of the history and basic beliefs of two other major world religions: Christianity and Islam. All three of these religions are grouped to make the Semitic religions, sometimes called Abrahamic because of the importance of Abraham in the history of each. When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers. ‘ Abram fell face down, and God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.

No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. ‘ Genesis 17:1-5 The quote above is from a version of the Bible used by Christians. It is from the Book of Genesis which is also part of the Torah or teaching used by Jews. The story of Abraham is one of the most pivotal in the history of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Each of the three Semitic religions (called so because they are all descended from Shem, a son of Noah) is connected to the contract or covenant made between God and Abraham. The contract promised Abraham and his descendants a long and fruitful life blessed by God. In response, Abraham and his descendants had to worship the one God and follow his instructions.

According to the Holy writings of Christianity and Islam, Jesus was a descendant of Abraham through Isaac and Muhammad was a descendant through Ishmael. Jews have been in Australia since the First Fleet. There were at least 14 Jews in that first influx and while there were many initial problems (only marriages in the Anglican Church could be legitimate and children of mixed marriages were considered illegitimate) the numbers grew steadily. Currently there are 100 000 Jews in Australia out of a worldwide population of about 14 million. While Israel, the only predominantly Jewish state in the world, has a total population of just over six million, only 75% of the population are Jewish.

The development and expression of Judaism from its start in God’s revelation to one person (Abraham) to the important worldwide religion of today is due to the contribution of a number of significant people and schools of thought and of course the continuation of the community of believers worldwide. One of these special people was Moses Maimonides. * Using the above information and the diagram on the next page, explain how Christianity, Judaism and Islam are linked. All 3 religions can trace their origins back to a common source and that is the leaders of each of the religion can be traced back to Adam. This means that all 3 religions have some aspects of commonality such as the belief of 1 god and all people are descendants of Adam and Eve. Family Tree of David History of Judaism MOSES MAIMONIDES (1135-1204) Jewish sacred writings include the Torah and Talmud.

The Talmud is the authoritative record of rabbinic discussions on all aspects of Jewish life and includes religious law, ethics, customs and the stories which define the religious history. The Talmud is made up of two parts: Mishneh; and the Gemara which is a literary expansion of the ideas in the Mishneh. The Torah is also called the Law, and is the written law. The Talmud is referred to as the oral law, and it has become the basis for all later codes or writings of Jewish law. Of all the Jewish law codes, one of the most famous is by the philosopher and Talmudic expert Rabbi Moses ben Maimon [teacher, Moses (named after the prophet), (ibn or ben) son of Maimon] who is usually known as Maimonides.

He believed that certain doctrines were necessary for salvation, and published a creed of 13 articles. These 13 articles have often been used to define Jewish belief. They are listed in the diagram below. These principles were very controversial when he first proposed them and apart from academic criticism were ignored by the general Jewish community for hundreds of years. They did, however, get included in the ‘siddur’ or Jewish prayer book, and not only did these principles become widely accepted but today, they are almost compulsory in Orthodox Judaism. Rabbi Moses ben Maimon is sometimes known as Moses Maimonides (from Greek). He is also well known by the Hebrew acronym of RaMBaM.

Maimonides is considered by Jewish researchers and theologians alike to be the most important Jewish philosopher of this Middle Ages period in the history of Judaism. Maimonides was born on the day before Pesach (Passover) in Spain at a time when about 20% of the population there were Jews. Maimonides’ father, also a rabbi and judge in the city of Cordoba, educated him in both the Torah and the secular subjects such as mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy. However, it was also the time of rising Islamic fundamentalism in Spain and the final problem for the Jews . came when Islamic conquest occurred in 1148. The Jews were offered conversion, exile or death! Maimonides and his family fled to Morocco. There he worked as a physician, scholar of Jewish law and philosopher.

It was during this time of exile that he composed his commentary on the Mishneh. Leaving Morocco, Maimonides lived in Jerusalem and Cairo. Here he became physician to Sultan Saladin of Egypt. His life history is summarised in the table below. Maimonides was a scholar, and like all scholars he wrote his thoughts and spread his ideas in books, articles and letters. He wrote in both Hebrew and Arabic. Life of Moses Maimonides Some of his writings included: ‘A Commentary on the Mishneh’, ‘The Book of Commandments’ and ‘The Mishneh Torah’ which is a code of Jewish law. ‘The Guide for the Perplexed’ was a philosophical writing in which he tried to bring together the philosophy of Aristotle and Jewish theology.

Maimonides also wrote medical texts and was a prolific letter writer both to individuals and public institutions. Some of the topics of his letters dealt with resurrection, the afterlife, conversion to other faiths, and letters of support to Jews living in repressive situations. This range of topics gives an insight into the eclectic nature of his thinking and activism in Jewish and Arabic society. As a physician, he related his Jewish beliefs to his professional responsibility and produced an oath or personal code of behaviour, called the Oath of Maimonides. The eternal providence has appointed me to watch over the life and health of your creatures.

May the love for my art actuate me at all time; may neither avarice nor miserliness, nor thirst for glory or for a great reputation engage my mind; for enemies of truth and philanthropy could easily deceive me and make me forgetful of my lofty aim of doing good to your children. May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain. Grant me the strength, time and opportunity always to correct what I have acquired, always to extend its domain; for knowledge is immense and the spirit of humanity can extend indefinitely to enrich itself daily with new requirements. Today I can discover the errors of yesterday and tomorrow I can obtain a new light on what I think myself sure of today. Oh God, You have appointed me to watch over the life and death of your creatures; here am I ready for my vocation and now I turn to my calling. * Answer True or False to the following statements. 1.

The Torah and Talmud are sacred Christian writings. | F| 2. The Mishneh and Gemara makes up the Talmud. | T| 3. Maimonides believed that certain laws had to be followed for salvation. | T| 4. Maimonides’ 13 articles were universally accepted by the Jewish community. | F| 5. Maimonides is considered to be one of the most important Jewish philosophers. | T| 6. Maimonides developed his ideas during the Dark Ages. | F| 7. Maimonides was only schooled in Jewish law. | F| 8. Islamic conquest of Spain treated the Jews fairly. | F| 9. Maimonides was a prolific writer. | T| 10. In his writings, Maimonides covered a wide range of topics. | T| Effect of Maimonides on Judaism

Maimonides is important because he was also a great influence on non-Jewish as well as Jewish people. This makes him an historical rarity as most medieval Jewish philosophers were not well known outside Judaism. He even had influence in the Arabic/Islamic world of the time. His reputation as a most respected Jewish philosopher is well known among current religious thinkers and historians. His writings and commentary, both religious and secular, produced responses of support or antagonism but rarely were they ignored. Scholars who studied his work, even centuries later, were classified according to their response to his ideas. They were characterised as ‘Mairnonideans’ or ‘anti-Maimonideans’ according to their response.

Even those who trod the middle ground largely supported his ideas, allowing themselves reservations on particular points. How Does One Analyse or Evaluate the Impact of Maimonides on Judaism? Maimonides influenced Judaism and influenced the non-Jewish society which, in turn affected the lives of Jews. From this he had an impact on the lives of ordinary Jews far in excess of any ordinary rabbi. As a practising Jew, Maimonides was willing to give himself to the concept of charity, to the task of helping others. Coming from one culture and country to another, he travelled with little support, and was chased as a criminal because of either his unwavering belief (at the start) or outspokenness (in later years) to spread his understanding of God and Jewish teachings.

He expressed exactly the Judaic concept of following the Torah and Law to the best of his ability and using the gifts of intelligence, perseverance and skills of communication and healing given to him by God. He was also a great teacher of the Law. Maimonides was therefore a true rabbi or teacher. His writings showed understanding and he tried to make his understanding available to the people of his community. Just like students in school today, the greater understanding you have about a subject, the easier it is to learn more. The people in Maimonides’ community would have learned more about all aspects of Judaism, simply by reading his works and questioning his ideas. Maimonides did not spread the message of Judaism in a solitary and separate academic world.

He was a physician and he lived his life as he taught. His ideas presented in the Maimonides Oath give testament to his basic belief in the importance of God’s Creation and an understanding that his role in life was to help others. To this end his life and works are an excellent example to any rabbi or lay person whether Jew or gentile. In determining the influence of any person we have to consider how their beliefs or words or deeds changed the society of their time and the society which came after. However small the actual change in the Jewish community in Morocco or Egypt was, it was considered very great by the politically powerful of the time.

In Morocco, Maimonides supported the Jewish community to such an extent that he was forced to leave. In Egypt he was honoured for his work, partly by being allowed to stay in an Islamic country and partly by his own community by being elected as leader of the Jewish community in Egypt. Maimonides influences Jewish scholars today with his writings. His Mishneh Torah was written to summarise all Jewish religious law and is still useful. His writing has some distinctive features in that: 1. It covers all Jewish law. 2. It was made to cover general responses, i. e. all times and places. (Most other codes were restricted to laws that were in force at the time. ) 3.

It presents the laws in a system that is both clear to rabbis and lay people and logical in its presentation. This is more efficient than the Talmud’s less logical arrangement. 4. It presents rulings without long-winded discussion or explanation thus making it easier to follow for the lay person. 5. It starts with Aristotelian philosophy, metaphysics and theology. While this was regarded by Maimonides as the most important aspect of Jewish law, his interpretation of this point caused much criticism. These points show the usefulness of Maimonides’ writing today. His codes of law are studied and used today in both academic and scholarly circles and by lay people – as they were when first written.

We as a community at large, regardless of whether one is Jew or gentile, are improved by understanding his logic -and studying the reasons behind his care and support for his community. Jewish scholars are advantaged by his work and the continuation of their study into his ideas is a major advantage for the Jewish community, but is not authoritative. Some Distinctive Features of the Mishneh Torah * It encompasses the full range of Jewish law as formulated for all ages and places. Most other Jewish law codes confined themselves to laws that were in force in their own times and lands (thereby excluding rules that apply only in the land of Israel under an independent Jewish kingdom) or which could not be observed following the destruction of the temple. It completely reorganises and reformulates the laws in a clear and logical system. Earlier codes had followed the Talmud’s sometimes haphazard arrangement, with only a few attempts to improve on that order. * It presents the standard ruling without any discussion or explanation on how the decisions were reached. * It contains a section on systematic philosophical theology, derived largely from the works of the Greek philosopher Aristotle and Muslim philosophers, which it regards as the most important component of Jewish l aw. Maimonides’ interpretation of Jewish religion in terms of Greek ideas aroused much opposition. | * Assess the impact of Maimonides on Judaism.

Maimonides was a scholar, and like all scholars he wrote his thoughts and promulgated his ideas in books, articles and letters. Some of his writings included: ‘A Commentary on the Mishnah’, ‘The Book of Commandments’ and ‘The Mishnah Torah’ which is a code of Jewish law. ‘The Guide for the Perplexed’ was a philosophical writing in which he tried to bring together the philosophy of Aristotle and Jewish theology. Maimonides also wrote medical texts and was a prolific letter writer both to individuals and public institutions including letters of support to Jews living in repressive situations. This range of topics gives an insight into the eclectic nature of his thinking.

His activism in Jewish and Arabic society shows how widespread was his influence. Maimonides is also important because he was a great influence on non-Jewish as well as Jewish people. This makes him an historical rarity as most medieval Jewish philosophers were not well known outside Judaism. He even had influence in the Arabic/Islamic world of the time. His reputation as a most respected Jewish philosopher is well known among current religious thinkers and historians. His writings and commentary, both religious and secular, produced responses of support or antagonism but rarely were they ignored. Scholars who studied his work, even centuries later, were classified according to their response to his ideas.

They were characterised as ‘Maimonideans’or ‘anti-Maimonideans’ according to their attitude. Maimonides influenced Judaism and influenced the non-Jewish society which, in turn affected the lives of Jews. From this he had an impact on the lives of ordinary Jews far in excess of any ordinary rabbi. As a practising Jew, Maimonides was willing to give himself to the concept of charity, to the task of helping others. Coming from one culture and country to another, he travelled with little support, and was chased as a criminal because of either his unwavering belief, at the start, or outspokenness in later years as he spread his understanding of God and Jewish teachings.

He expressed exactly the Judaic concept of following the Torah and Law to the best of his ability and using his God-given gifts of intelligence, perseverance, skil1s of communication and healing. He was also a great teacher of the Law. Maimonides was therefore a true rabbi or teacher. His writings showed understanding and he tried to make his understanding available to the people of his community. Just like students in school today, the greater understanding you have about a subject, the easier it is to lean more. The people in Maimonides’ community would have learned more about a1l aspects of Judaism, simply by leading his works and questioning his ideas.

Maimonides did not spread the message of Judaism in a solitary and separate academic world. He was a physician and he lived his life as he taught. His ideas presented in the Maimonides Oath give testament to his basic belief in the importance of God’s Creation and an understanding that his role in life was to help others. To this end his life and works are an excellent example to any rabbi or 1ay person whether Jew or gentile. Maimonides still influences Jewish scholars today by his writings. His Mishnah Torah was written to summarise all Jewish religious law and is still useful. His writing has some distinctive features in that it covers all Jewish 1aw and was made to cover general responses, i. e. all times and places.

It presented the laws in a system that was both clear to rabbis and in its logical presentation was easy to fo11ow for the 1ay person. ETHICS Jewish ethics is based on the commandments of God and summarised (generally in the public view) within the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God. God’s Commandments The Ten Commandments (or Decalogue) is among a set of instructions given to Moses by God. This occurred on Mt Sinai in the desert wilderness as Moses was leading the people of Israel away from the slavery in Egypt. While the Israelites had been freed by God, they were no longer worshipping God. As the Israelites travelled to the Promised Land God gave them these ethical commandments to maintain their focus.

The Decalogue is part of the set of instructions on how the Jews were expected to live their life obedient to the will of God. TEN COMMANDMENTS 1. You will have no other gods before me 2. Do not worship any idols 3. Respect the name of the Lord 4. Remember and keep holy the Sabbath 5. Honour your parents 6. Do not murder 7. Do not commit adultery 8. Do not steal 9. Tell the truth about your neighbour 10. Do not be jealous of your neighbour In the Bible, the Ten Commandments are found in both Exodus chapter 20 from verse 3 and Deuteronomy chapter 5 from verse 7. The Ten Commandments are part of the 613 Mitzvoth (singular – Mitzvah) or commandments which are in the Torah. All of these Mitzvoth are part of the law to be followed by Orthodox Jews.

Members of Orthodox Judaism consider these laws not only the word of God but unchangeable. Significant numbers of Liberal, Progressive or Reform Jews also follow various numbers of them according to individual interpretation of importance to today’s world. This is because they regard the individual’s relationship with God to be of greater importance than the rules. Secular Jews place greater emphasis on the historical or social connections of Judaism rather than the Bible’s rules and regulations. Over the long history of Judaism, other sources of ethical guidance have been used to add meaning and understanding to the commandments in the Torah to help Jews discern God’s will.

These have been necessary as life changes, and understanding how the commandments fit into these changes needs to be considered. Some of these alternative ethical sources are listed in the table below. Ethical Sources Guidance by tradition While Jewish ethics are initiated by God, other sources of guidance are used. A significant number of situations are stated in the Jewish legal literature and the correct moral response is listed. All of these are expanded in the many writings and religious texts which support the Torah. There are some situations, however, that have not been covered by the historical writings. For these a response needs to be determined.

The religious tradition of Judaism is an important source of ethical information. One example is ‘The Guide of the Perplexed’ written by Maimonides. This writing contains a discussion of ethics. Its focus is on the concept of ‘Being like God’ as the highest goal of humanity. This could be translated as ‘What would God do? ‘ Maimonides’ writing is just one body of many, much of which seems to be contradictory. Such lack of unanimity in ethical conclusions is to be expected when the body of thought and writing covers such a wide range of time, cultural background and conceptual process. There is no one Jewish response to many ethical issues of today. What influences Jewish responses to varying ethical issues? Jewish ethics is based on the commandments of God and summarised within the Ten Commandments given to Moses. The Decalogue is part of the set of instructions on how the Jews were expected to live their life obedient to the will of God. Over the long history of Judaism, other sources of ethical guidance have been used to add meaning and understanding to the commandments in the Torah to help Jews discern God’s will. These include the Mishnah or rabbinic text, Aggadah or ethical teachings spread through the Talmud, Mussar writings which are translated as ‘tradition’ and the concept of ethical monotheism.

There is one God who causes one morality for all humanity. From this, God’s sole demand of people is that they act decently toward each other. The Halakha in Response is the interpreting of rabbinic law by Orthodox rabbis. Variation of Ethical Response There are a number of branches of Judaism. These have many names but some of the commonly used are: Liberal, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist (a recent group who do not reject tradition, but reinterpret it). The Reconstructionist movement has a doctrine that says ‘the past has a vote but not a veto’. That means, the Jewish tradition carries weight in contemporary decision making, but is not the absolute and only response.

Depending on the person and specific topic, environmental issues can be more difficult or less difficult to analyse than bioethical issues. Environmental issues are part of the world around us and take years, if not decades, to become obvious. Pollution today may remain hidden for years and some, particularly radioactive wastes, may remain in the environment for thousands if not millions of years. Unfortunately most people do not give these issues the same thought or consideration because they do not affect us. They will, however affect our children and just as they take a long time to arise, they take a long time to correct. Sexual ethics are perhaps the most difficult to deal with because the implications are not obvious hurts or involve life or death situations.

They deal with personalities and feelings and the questions of trust, truth and honesty. This is where many people are hypocritical, acting in one way while voicing a different opinion to fit in with their social group or family. The teachings in the Torah can be used to determine or advise behaviour for Jews in dealing with questions in each of these three topics but the way from the Torah to the final decision is not clear or simplistic. Sexual Ethics To determine the Jewish perception on sexual ethics, we need to define what is included under the general term of sexual ethics. Once this has been defined we can determine what the alternative behaviours are which may or may not find support according to Jewish beliefs.

Life is of prime importance to Judaism and this is supported by the fact that of the 613 commandments only four cannot be put aside to save a life. They are the commandments against murder (obviously) and idolatry. Of those which present an ethical instruction only incest and adultery are so important that their prohibition cannot be broken. Other ethical instructions have a lower level of ethical importance. In spite of its level of public awareness and critical analysis, homosexuality, for example, is one of these lesser ethical concerns. The response of Judaism is well documented. The earliest writing is in Leviticus, which describes sexual intercourse between males as an ‘abomination’. Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. Leviticus 18:22

The traditional view among Jews was to describe homosexual activity as sinful. This, however, has led to much debate. Modern Liberal Judaism affirms the following belief: * that the image of God is reflected by every human being and must always be cherished and affirmed * that Jews have been sensitive to the impact of official and unofficial prejudice and discrimination * because gay and lesbian Jews have experienced the anti-Semitism known to all Jews and, because of their sexuality, have also experienced the rejection and threats associated with homophobia, they are accepted as any Jew. * Describe Jewish ethical teachings on sexual ethics. Sexual ethics is associated with sexuality and its expression.

It includes questions on abortion, contraception, homosexuality, pornography and rape. Sexual ethical questions are related to a number of instructions in the Bible. Considering the Ten Commandments as a basis, the instruction not to commit adultery is clear but the definition of adultery is not. Modern definitions range from not allowing any sexual activity between two unmarried people to the more generally agreed, not having sexual intercourse with someone who is not your spouse. Certainly we are told in the Bible that David and Solomon among others had a number of wives and concubines. We also read of the inappropriate behaviour when other men are killed or lies are told for the purpose of obtaining sexual partners.

The judgement and punishment responses from God to this behaviour is an important part of the teaching in the Bible. Today most Jewish ethicists also accept the Ninth Commandment ‘Do not lie’ as instruction for truth and fidelity within a marriage. * Assess the impact Jewish ethical teaching on sexual ethics have on the lives of adherents. Life is of prime importance to Judaism and this is supported by the fact that of the 613 commandments only four cannot be put aside to save a life. They are the commandments against murder (obviously) and idolatry. Of those which present an ethical instruction only incest and adultery are so important that their prohibition cannot be broken. Other ethical instructions have a lower 1evel of ethical importance.

Whether it be the physical attack of a person for the purpose of sexual gratification or the coercion or physical or psychological pressure brought to bear to obtain sexual responses, rape and other non-consensual activity is unacceptable. This comes directly from the commandments not to commit adultery or to 1ie. Theft of innocence from children or an unwilling sex partner also goes against the commandment not to steal. The commandment not to covet or be jealous also relates to limiting the sexual desires outside marriage. Abortion or the killing of an unborn baby either as an embryo or foetus is differentiated according to the age of the embryo. The unborn child is considered to have great value because it is a future human being although many believe it only gains this status at birth.

An abortion is allowed if it is necessary to save the mother’s life but not on the grounds of genetic imperfection in the foetus. Historical Judaism has accepted ensoulment, the point at which the soul enters the body as the time when abortions are prohibited. Many believe this occurs at around 40 days after conception. Jews generally support the concept of contraception if it stops conception or even if the device destroys the fertilised egg because ensoulment has not yet taken p1ace. Masturbation and other non-penetrative sexual activity involves the satisfying of sexual desires either on one’s own or with a partner without the use of penetrative sex. There is no possibility of conception and therefore there is no possibility that a new life will be created.

According to Jews, the only harm would’ involve jealousy or the concept of adultery. The act of sex involves more than just physical pleasure. There is a bond of commitment between the two partners. This is where the concept of truth and honesty starts to be a part of the relationship. If one person has made a commitment to another, usually in the marriage vows and does not follow that commitment then they are going against the commandment not to lie and against the commandment not to commit adultery. In spite of public analysis, homosexuality is one of the less ethical concerns. The traditional view among Jews was to describe homosexual activity as sinful.

Modern Judaism affirms the belief that the image of God is reflected by every human being and must always be cherished and affirmed and that Jews need to be sensitive to the impact of official and unofficial prejudice and discrimination. SIGNIFICANT PRACTICES Many people in all societies ask themselves questions and reflect on the meaning of life. This reflection is often forced on a community when a death occurs. The loss of a life forces the community left behind to question their own mortality and to reaffirm (or not) their faith in the expectation of spiritual life after death. Other significant changes in life are also celebrated by a specific rite of passage. These include birth, circumcision, bar/bat mitzvah and marriage.

The worship service itself, usually performed in a synagogue is another important act of Judaism, celebrated both on the individual level and publicly within the community. Marriage Judaism considers marriage to be humanity’s ideal state of existence. Any person without a spouse is not considered to be complete. The Torah, however, provides few rules and very little guidance about marriage. The processes of finding a spouse, the organisation and style of the wedding ceremony, the roles and responsibilities of the partners within the marital relationship and even the processes regarding divorce have been developed through tradition and are explained in the Talmud.

Like other Middle East societies, traditional Jewish society was very restrictive in the allowable associations of the sexes particularly when compared to our modern Western ideas. In Orthodox Jewish communities today, like the traditional communities in any society, these social restrictions are still in force. According to tradition, betrothal could only be contracted by money (shtar), or a contract containing a betrothal declaration, or by sexual intercourse with the intention of creating a bond of marriage. Not surprisingly, this last process was not supported by the rabbis! In modern society only the process which involves the object of value (usually a ring) is practised. Traditionally, engagement for the purpose of marriage was sometimes organised by a third person, called a matchmaker (shadchan).

This was a ‘paid’ position within the community although the rabbi was also often used as an intermediary in the discussions between the two families. While betrothal and marriage organisation was a family (parental) activity with specific and traditional roles and practices, the individuals concerned were not forced into an unwanted contract. In the Ten Commandments, according to one interpretation, a wife is considered as under the authority of her father and this explains why the marriage ceremony is based on the rules for transfer. During the service, the woman accepts a ring or something else of some monetary value and in doing so accepts the terms of the marriage. In Hebrew this betrothal process is called kiddushin or erusin.

A prenuptial agreement or contractual document called a ketubah is publicly read and witnessed by members of the community signing as such at the ceremony. In some Orthodox synagogues, the ketubah lists a number of organisational conditions including the husband’s obligations and responsibilities to his wife during the marriage, any special conditions associated with any inheritance when he dies, and any requirements and obligations should the couple divorce. While a husband is responsible for providing his wife with food, clothing and even sexual relations it is accepted that such sexual relations are the woman’s right, not the man’s and therefore there is no concept of the husband’s ‘right’ to have sex.

The power of the woman in the relationship is also supported by the married woman retaining ownership of any property she owned as a single person and therefore brought to the marriage, even though tradition says that the husband has the right to manage it and even to enjoy any profits from it. Interestingly the ketubah is traditionally written in Aramaic which was the language of the community when its use became popularised in about 80 BCE. To maintain this tradition, the ketubah is often written in the specific language of the couple, whether that be English or even Hebrew and parts are read out aloud during the ceremony. During the service, traditionally the groom makes a statement: ‘You are consecrated to me, through this ring, according to the religion of Moses and Israel. ‘ There is no need for the bride to make a verbal response to this statement.

Her physical acceptance of the ring and either the holding it or the placing of it on her finger publicly shows she accepts the contractual arrangement. Particularly among non-Orthodox Jews today a reciprocal ring is given to the groom from the bride and she also makes a statement. One popular statement is from Song of Solomon, chapter 6 verse 3. I am my lover’s and my lover is mine. Song of Solomon 6:3 The most well known part of the Jewish marriage ceremony is the joining of the two under a canopy or chuppah. The canopy signifies the house or home the couple will make. The origins of the canopy are unclear but one tradition reminds believers of the verse in the Book of Joel chapter 2 verse 16: ‘Let the bridegroom go forth from his chamber and the bride out of her pavilion (chuppah).

A different translation says: Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Joel 2:16 The officiant recites seven blessings (called brakhot) in the presence of two witnesses. The seven blessings relate to God who has ‘created everything for His glory, created humanity and fashioned humans in His image’. The God who continues to gladden Zion through children, particularly gladdens the groom and bride with created joy and gladness. The bride and groom drink wine together and then the groom steps on the empty glass to break it.

There are a number of explanations for this part of the celebration including the remembering of the destruction of the temple or the brokenness of the world which, in a spiritual sense, is the couple’s responsibility to try and repair. Jewish law, or Halakhah, allows for the granting of divorce to separate a married couple. The document associated with divorce is a get. The divorce ceremony involves either the husband giving the get to the wife and the wife may ask in a rabbinical court for a get from her husband. If the case occurs when the man (refuses to give) or the woman (refuses to receive) a get then the individual may not remarry in a religious ceremony.

Reform Jews have some different practices from Orthodox Jews in marriage and divorce. Reform Jews don’t usually have a traditional ketubah at their weddings but replace it with a wedding certificate. This is dramatically different from Conservative Jews who do not recognise any civil law as being more important than religious law. The situation therefore exists where a couple divorced in a civil court may be considered still married according to Orthodox Jewish congregations. Expression of Beliefs How does marriage express the beliefs of Judaism? Significance of Weddings for the Individual The whole of the marriage process and the associated behaviour is an expression of belief in Judaism.

It is focused in the ketubah. The ketubah is commonly known as the marriage contract but, in effect, it is a spiritual connection both parties have with the traditions and beliefs of Judaism. The ketubah is a statement of the responsibilities of the man to his wife and is an affirmation of the stated responsibilities of God’s love and justice to the people of Israel. Every part of the wedding ceremony affirms an understanding that God has control over the lives of the couple. The ring reminds Jews of the contract between God and Abraham. The canopy shows the importance of the marriage home for the family. It accents the production and maintaining of life.

The brakhot blessings remind both the couple and the congregation of the blessings of God for each other and for the community. It is these blessings which, in the last part of the ceremony turn the focus from the couple who are getting married to God. It reminds them of God who created them by giving them life and who brought them together and will bless them through their lives as he has blessed Abraham and the Jewish people for generations. Significance for the Jewish community The significance for Judaism as a wider community of faith is that for all those who are part of a family, the marriage ceremony has been or will be part of their life. By definition a Jew is someone who is born to a Jewish woman, or who has converted to Judaism.

Therefore the production of children, the creation and maintaining of the family is an important aspect of continuing the religion from generation to generation. The community as a whole also benefits from the coming together of the individual members of a family within the community. While love is a personal emotion, the expression of this love in a marriage service and the processes which support marriages are also important in the bringing people together and maintaining the traditions which are such a vital part of Judaism. As a worldwide organisation, Judaism gains in the spiritual expression of the love of people for each other. * Explain the significance of marriage for the individual. Judaism considers marriage to be humanity’s ideal state of existence.

Any person without a spouse is not considered to be complete. The Torah provides few rules and very little guidance about marriage. The processes of finding a spouse, the organisation and style of the wedding ceremony, the roles and responsibilities of the partners within the marital relationship and even the processes regarding divorce have been developed through tradition and are explained in the Talmud. Like elsewhere in the Middle East, traditional Jewish society was very restrictive in the allowable associations of the sexes. According to tradition, betrothal could only be contracted by money, (shtar) or contract containing a betrothal declaration of marriage.

Engagement for the purpose of marriage was usually organised by a matchmaker (shadchan). In the Ten Commandments, a wife is considered as part of the owned properly and this explains why the marriage ceremony is based on the rules for transfer of property. During the service, the woman accepts a ring or something else of some monetary value and in doing so accepts the terms of the marriage. The ketubah lists a number of organisational conditions including the husband’s obligations and responsibilities to his wife during the marriage, any special conditions associated with any inheritance when he dies, and any requirements and obligations should the couple divorce.

During the service, traditionally the groom makes a statement: ‘You are consecrated to me, through this ring, according to the religion of Moses and Israel. ‘ There is no need for the bride to make a verbal response to this statement. Her physical acceptance of the ring and either the holding it or the addition of it to her finger publicly shows she accepts the contractual arrangement. Particularly among liberal Jews today a reciprocal ring is given to the groom from the bride and she also makes a statement. One popular statement is: ‘I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me’ which is one translation from Song of Solomon 6:3. The whole of the marriage process and the associated behaviour is an expression of belief in Judaism and it is focused in the ketubah.

This is a statement of the responsibilities of the man to his wife and is an affirmation of the stated responsibilities of God’s love and justice to the people of Israel. It is therefore a spiritual connection both parties have with the traditions and beliefs of Judaism. The ketubah wedding ceremony affirms an understanding that God has control over the lives of the couple. The ring reminds Jews of the contract between God and Abraham, and the matchmaker supports the traditions of Judaism and the respect that the young have for those older and wiser. The canopy shows the importance of the marriage home for the family. It accents the production and maintaining of life. The brakhot or blessings remind both the couple and the congregation of the blessings of God for each other and for the community.

It is these blessings which, in the last part of the ceremony turn the focus from the couple who are getting married to God. The blessing reminds the couple of God who created them by giving them life and who brought them together and will bless them through their lives as he has blessed Abraham and the Jewish people for generations. The marriage is therefore connected to all marriages and all of Jewish history. * Assess the importance that marriage has on the lives of adherents and the community at large. The significance for Judaism as a wider community of faith is that for all those who are part of a family, the marriage ceremony has been or will be part of their life. Judaism is a matriarchal society.

By definition a Jew is someone who is born to a Jewish woman, therefore the production of children, the creation and maintaining of the family is an important aspect of continuing the religion from generation to generation. Jewish marriage is not just a contract between two people; it is part of the contract with the rest of Judaism both as a worldwide community and an historical lineage. The purpose of marriage is to maintain a viable surviving community, fulfilling one of the first commandments of God to Adam and Eve, to go and multiply. The Jewish community is family-oriented and this important aspect of family makes the historical connection all the more easily understood and supported.

The family is connected historically not only to the parents and grandparents but through the lineage in the Torah all the way back through Isaac, Jacob and Adam and ultimately God. Maimonides determined three aspects of marriage partnership. These are firstly a convenient approach to useful practices, the aspects of cooperation and friendliness. The second is the sharing partner, the one who shares the sorrow, trials, worries and pain. This sharing reduces the impact of an illness or misadventure and the reciprocal sharing of joy and excitement and love and experience expands the impact of these. The third is the joint approach to the goals of life, whether these are religious or secular, the common approach allows for an easier realisation.

It is this third type of partnership which extends the marriage into the sense of joint commitment. Because the married couple are seen as beloved friends (reim ahuvim) there is a sense of sacred trust, care and support and that is part of the marriage blessing. One of the blessings of marriage is that of children. The birth of a child is an extension of the historical Judaism into the future. It is this concept that encourages many Jews to believe that the ‘birthplace of humanity is the home’. ‘The future of the whole of Judaism and the whole Jewish people depends upon the home, the marriage and therefore the covenants or promises that the bride and groom make to each other in the service.

The relationship of husband and wife in marriage is not designed solely for mutual satisfaction through some personal and private arrangement, it is important because of the public nature of their promises and how these promises are lived out in their life. The community as a whole benefits from the coming together of the individual members of a family within the community. They benefit from the connection to history. While love is a personal emotion, the expression of this love in a marriage service and the processes which support marriages are also important in the bringing people together and maintaining the traditions which are such a vital part of Judaism. As a worldwide organisation, Judaism gains in the spiritual expression of the love of people for each other. A Jewish marriage is an investment in the Jewish community and a living prayer for the future of God’s Creation.