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Rituals and Practice, the Modern Period

Course Code
Andre Maintenay

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World Religions
Rituals and Practice, the Modern Period
Reading: Ch. 2 “The Jewish Tradition,” pp. 101-128
From creation of world/Adam & Eve fall from garden of Eden. Humanity
disobeys god and therefore show a lack of moral sense. Banished from garden and
pain/suffering humanity experiences is understood as being result of this pr.
Humanity must live from distance of God
Narrative of fall: why we suffer, why snakes slither on the ground, why different
sexes, why women suffer pain in childbirth etiological – explain some
condition of being
Like God, human beings have moral capacity to choose to obey God’s will
Noahs Ark: God wipes out all of humanity and attempts to restart it over again
Limitless ambition of humanity by building tower
Chapter 12: call of Abraham: story of people of Israel in relationship to God
Abraham known as first patriarch of Judaism
God tests Abraham and asks him to sacrifice his son as one would sacrifice an
Abraham does this unhesitantly, obediently, and prepares to kill his son Isaac
God spares Isaac and identifies Abraham as one most worthy of conveying God’s
will to future generations
God decides to enter into a covenant (enter into contractual, legally binding
relationship where each side has certain obligations to fulfill) with Abraham
God will keep Abrahams family in his favor, however Abraham and his
descendants are obligated with their commitments to venerate with only one God,
follow his directives
Abrahams devotion to this relationship is to be valued through circumcision 
religious bond established between God and descendants of Abraham (covenant
History interpreted as revealing how well Abrahams people have done in holding
up their side of that covenant
God punished Israelis when they do not obey him, God blesses when things go
God had to choose a people in order to set example for the relationship b/w
humanity and God
Abraham is paradigm for what should be humanity’s way of engaging with God,
complete and utter obedience, faith, confidence in his judgment
Book of exdeice: major events
-Hebrews as slaves in Egypt
God orchestrates their release from slavery under leadership of Moses

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Many miracles from freedom of slavery: night of escape from Egypt, Moses leads people
across red sea and to enable this God afflicts Egyptians with plague but spares all Hebrew
This special favor is commemorated in festival ‘Passover’ – commemorates time in which
God showed his particular concern for his people, singling them out, blessed the, ensured
their freedom
-Recite of Torah by Moses
Moses receives divine law from god: Ten Commandments, moral directives, Torah
40 years spent on Sinai peninsula
Trying to establish nascent religious practice on how to evolve that corresponds to what
god wants
Foundation of Israel ritual life is set at this time: no images used of God, congregational
manner of worship
Escape and establish settled religious life
Rules by judges, communal confederacy
Develop centralized monarchy
Soloman (David’s son) makes lavish temple on hill, however after death kingdom splits in
2 (northern and southern)
Eventually southern section – Judea gets invaded by Babylonians
Leadership of Jewish community is exiled to Babylon (586 BCE) period of
Babylonian exile
Babylonian exile lasts 75 years, at point at which leadership is sentenced to exile, they
despair of ever seeing holy land
Being to question commitment of God
Reflect on sins they have committed in order to be exiled from their home, away from
temple, manner of worship evolution of institution of Synagogue (gathering of
community) new way of practicing tradition, ritual sacrifice
Phenomenon – Diaspora
Disposal of members of Jewish community into rest of the world, outside
Babylonian civilization was agricultural, where Jews developed other
skills/occupations than in Judah
Beginning of synagogue, reflecting on stories, praying
See language Armec replacing Hebrew, where Hebrew used more for rituals
Messianism - Yearning for messiah figure to deliver community from prevails
outside of homeland
Apocalypticism – anticipating end of the world as being something close by,
triggered of how the community experience being displaced from homeland
Years 528 – return to Jewish community
However many of Jewish community have no set roots in Babylon – origin of
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