FOR STUDYING ALSO GO TO P. 158 OF TEXT BOOK FOR GLOSSARYAND SUCH
- Hebrew TANAKH Bible finalized 90 CE.
HELLENISTIC JUDAISM >>> CLASSICAL JUDAISM
*The period after 70 CE distinguishes Hellenistic Judaism, a time of competing sects
(Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, Zealots) and revolutions (Maccabean and Zealot) from a time of
Rabbi's, codification, diaspora, and synagogue worship focused around scripture and
commentary. this period is called CLASSICAL JUDAISM and this is the period we are still in.
TORAH (LAW) + NEVI'IM (PROPHETS) + KETUVIM (WRITINGS)
only texts written initially in hebrew admitted (Maccabees was written in Greek and so wasn't
allowed into the corpus)
After the biblical corpus had been fixed, the rabbis proceeded to collect and add to the body of
Bible interpretation, known as MIDRASH. Followed the structure of the books in the hebrew
canon with line by line commentary.
The codification of Jewish legal heritage, passed down orally in the Parisaic tradition, consists of
two parts: the MISHNAH and the TALMUD.
THE MISHNAH outlined six 'orders' or divisions: Seeds (agriculture), Festivals, Women,
Damages, Holy Things (ritual), and Purifications. Claimed to be oral scripture passed down from
Moses to the Pharisees and only Pharisees could interpret it.
by about 220, the formerly open and growing body of interpretation that the pharisees claimed
to have been received orally from Moses had, like the Bible, become a fixed, written text. So, like
the Bible, the MISHNAH of Rabbi Juda the Prince itself now became the subject of passage by
passage commentary. With its six 'orders' subdivided into a total of 63 tractates (treatises), the
Mishnah became the skeleton of the collection known as
THE TALMUD, there are two different Talmuds. One comes from the Jewish community in
Palestine, the other from the community in Babylonia. The former is reffered to as the
PALESTINIAN or JERUSALEM TALMUD, the latter as the BABYLONIAN TALMUD. The
Babylonian became more authoritative. since most of Mishnah is legal, most of Talmud
commenting on it becomes legal, and the definitive conclusions (not always reached for
everything) were referred to as HALAKHA (the way or procedure). The more anecdotal
expansions of the Mishnah found in the Talmud are referred to as AGGADAH ('narrative'),
which are often moral in nature through a story or explication of a word. Halakha is explicit
The terms HALAKHAand AGGADAH are used loosely in reference to the tanakh, midrash, mishnah, and talmud and many other things. they are seen as two different grenres found in each
collection, law and narrative.
Babylonia was the intellectual center of Judaism from 4th to 9th century CE. The "gaon", head of
the Talmudic school in Babylonia enjoyed great power in Judaism.
In 8th Century, Anan ben David rejected the authority of the talmud creating a new sect called
KARAITES ('scripturalists') who even rejected Hanukkah, along with every other festival not
mentioned in the Bible. Emphasised simplicity, bordering on asceticism. had more in common
with Islam than the elaborate intellectual pursuits of the rabbis. Simple piety.
(REMEMBER: three jewish revolts, MACCABEAN, ZEALOT, BAR CHOCHBA)
After Talmud ossifies beyond edit, new developments in the study of Jewish law emerge:
● passage by passage commentary on the Talmud
● a collection of rulings made by expert rabbis in response to questions posed by individual
communities. TESHUVAH ('an answer'), took the form of public letters. Letters of Paul
in New Testament are possible early examples of this genre.
● periodic codification of the growing legal heritage. ie Moses Maimonides' Mishneh Torah
in 1180, Jacob BenAsher'sArba'a Turim in the 14th century, Jospeh Karo's BeyYosef
and ShulhanArukh in the sixteenth century.
- purity rituals, accomplished through dietary restrictions and ritual cleansing, were extended to
the entire Jewish population, not just the priests, with the introduction of Rabbinic Judaism.
Remember that Rabbis emerged from Pharisees, who had originally intended to bring these
practices out of the temple and into the every day world. The idea was that all jews were priests
to the rest of humanity and ought to follow the purity rituals prescribed in the torah for priests.
- Rabbis also put great emphasis on Repentance.
- in trying to expand God's plan for everyone, not just jews but the gentiles (goyim), Rabbis
began to emphasize the Noachide commandments, handed down to Noah after the flood, which
are consonant with universal human reason. They consist of prohibitions against blasphemy,
idolatry, bloodshed, incest, theft, and the eating of flesh from living animals, along with the
recognition of the true God. Jews believed the righteous would enter into an afterlife with the
true God as well.
SEPHARDIM JEWS ::: MEDITERRANEAN
ASHKENAZIM JEWS ::: CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE
- by medieval period the Sepharad was identified primarily with Spain/Portugal/Iberian Peninsula
- Ashkenaz identified primarily with Germany but persecution forced members to migrate to
Poland, Hungary, Romania, Russia.Ashkenazim jews lived as minorities under Christian
domination and, after the middle of the 19th century, being constantly uprooted in Europe,
migrated to the new world in overwhelming numbers.
- Jews from Muslim lands (Sephardim) have been much more likely to settle in Jerusalem than in
the new world.
- Jewish intellectual and cultural life fared much better in Muslim lands since Christians and
Jews were tolerated as "people of the Book" and entitled to certain legal rights, including the
right to practise their own religion.
- flourished primarily in muslim lands where intellectual life had been deeply influenced by
- SAADIA, earliest notable Jewish philosopher (882-924), gaon at rabbinic academy of Sura in
Babylonia. translated bible into arabic, deffended rabbinic judaism against teachings of the
karaites. Believed that whenever biblical events or texts appeared to contradict rational
principles, they should be taken allegorically rather than literally.
- YEHUDAHA-LEVI (1075-1141) born in Toledo, Spain, shortly after it fell to Christian
control. Wrote book about the Khazars becoming Jews.
- MOSES MAIMONIDES (or Rambam) (1135-1204) born in Cordoba, Spain, lived in Egypt,
undoubtedly most famous of all Jewish philosophers. Was a physician in Saladin's court!
Maimonides wrote on everything. He wrote the Mishneh Torah. Wrote "The Guide of the
Perplexed" aimed at the many acculturated Jews who, living in a cosmopolitan and
philosophically sophisticated environment, had begun to question the truth of their own religion.
Ha-Levi and Saadia drew on Neoplatonism but Maimonides was based inAristotle. He resolved
tension between faith and knowledge.
- for Maimonides, rationality is essential to God himself. But God's intelligence is different from
ours. IN fact, God has no attributes because attributes are accidental. Everything God is, he is
essentially. His intelligence is entirely active, a truly creative essence that describes only God.
He creates the universe by thinking, and it exists only because he is thinking it.
- Rambam's great accomplishment was to promote a view of Judaism as thoroughly rational.
- Believed faith and reason/science to be in perfect agreement.
- Maimonides system of faith and reason reconciliation worked well in times of peace and
prosperity, when intellectual life has been able to flourish. In times of trial and tribulation,
however, Jews have been more likely to turn to MYSTICISM.
THE EARLY MODERN PERIOD
- period of toleration of Jews in Islamic Spain came to definitive end in 1492 when Ferdinand
and Isabella took control of Granada, the last remaining muslim stronghold. Jews were expelled
in a massive exodus, many arriving in Ottoman ruled Turkey.
JEWISH MYSTICISM - expulsion sparked a new interest in mystical practice and pietistic devotion to the ordinary
customs of Judaism.
- centered around biblical passages where God shows himself to his people in a human form or
"presence" known as KAVOD, or "glory of God", a form understood to be the angel of the Lord.
- in apocalyptic tradition following age of prophecy, some visions involve human manifestations
of the divine. the so-called "SON OF MAN" (meaning "a manlike figure"). symbolizes the
martyrs of the community in Daniel 7:13. Instrumental in Paul's vision where he sees Jesus and
subsequently converts to Christianity.
- earliest and longest phase of Jewish mysticism begins with prophecies of Ezekiel and stretches
to Daniel and then to the emergence of KABBALAH in the 12th century. this is known as
MERKABAH (chariot) MYSTICISM. Central aspects of Merkabah Mysticism:
1. anthropomorphic concept of God with strong interest in size, so-called Shiur Koma
(measurement of the body) literature
2. heavenly ascents
3. theurgic (magical) spells and motifs
4. apocalyptic and revelatory writings
- central experience is ecstatic journey of the adept to the heavenly throne room
- HASIDEI ASHKENAZ (Ashkenaz Jews) created Kabbalah.
- development of teaching called KABBALAH ("recieved tradition") is probably most
responsible for the gradual decline of MERKABAH mysticism.
- KABBALISM was somewhat influenced by Sufi mysticism
- heaven journey of Merkabah mysticism came to be seen in Kabbalism as a journey into the
- in place of heavenly palaces, KABBALAH developed a notion of ten SPEROT ('countings' or
'spheres'). By correctly aligning these spherot through rituals, pious deeds, and mystical
meditation, the Kabbalist can affect the future course of events and participate in the divine plan
for the universe
- principal text of Kabbalah (Kabbalah is process/method, Zohar is main text)
- purports to be work of 2nd century rabbi, Shimon bar Yohai. real author probably Spanish
Kabbalist Moses ben Shemtov of Leon (1250-1305)
- describes God as En Sof (without end), who produces universe indirectly through series of
emanations called the SPHEROT. correct alignments or "unifications" of the spherot will bring
about the most harmonious balance of divine forces.
- in form, ZOHAR resembles midrashic exposition of scripture but instead of explaining sense of
a verse, it explains the secret knowledge that could be derived.
- performing symbolic and significant rituals like sex between kabbalist spouses or blessing wine
before meal can help to align the heavenly dimensions of God.
- Kabbalah explains evil as the result of a misalignment of divine efflugence and offers humans the hope that their action will help the divinity in his progress towards the goal of cosmic
ok, so here is how it goes:
TANAKH - Torah (law), Nevi'im (prophets), Ketuvim (writings)
MIDRASH - commentary passage by passage on the Torah
MISHNAH - oral scripture claimed to be handed down from Moses that outlined more rules that
weren't in the torah
TALMUD - built around the skeleton of the six branches of the Mishnah, it was commentary on
mishnah, amounting to 63 tractates of its own.
KABBALAH - created by theAshkanazim Jews, outlines mystical practice and interpretations of
LURIAAND SABBATAI ZVI
- ISAAC LURIA (1532-72) changed Kabbalah from a private contemplative discipline to a
- founded community of mystics in Galilee region.
- explained that for God to create the universe he had to withdraw some of himself to make room
for it and the "divine sparks" became contaminated with the gross and evil material of creation.
earthly counterpart of this was the exile of Israel.
- Luria said mystics can help God return the divine sparks to their correct place, rectifying
(TIKKUN) the universe. done through meditation, magic, acts of pietry including ritual
- community founded practiced intense asceticism hoping to assist God in enterprise of
redemption and hasten the coming of the Messiah.
- in 1666, an adept of Lurianic Kabbalah named SABBATAI ZVI was proclaimed the Messiah.
- ascetic Jews followed Zvi and marched on Istanbul. The sultan arrested Zvi and offered him
conversion to islam or death. He converted to Islam, losing most his followers. Some continued
to follow him though and also converted, still practicing sephardic Jewish rituals as well.
- this gave birth to "antinomian" mysticism, meaning counter to rule or law. This offshoot of
Judaism, Sabbatian Judaism, was not unlike Christianity in the eyes of Jews who did not join
their movement, An offshoot that disregarded some of Jewish law while building fresh from
- founder was ISRAELBEN ELIEZER (1698-1759), better known as the BAAL SHEM TOV
or acronym BESHT. Born in Romania-Moldavia area
- in contrast to the elitist highly educated Talmudic academies of eastern Europe, Baal Shem Tov
brought Judaism to the everyday people by preaching the best way to commune with God was
through humility, good deeds, prayer, and joy. He preached importance of mutual help,
forbearance, and other virtues. He became the model for a Hasidic Leader, a ZADDIK.
- Sought presence of God in everyday life.
- focus is on Aggadah, stories teaching moral lessons - followers of Besht came to be known as the HASIDIM (pious ones)
- Besht's pietistic Judaism became very popular in eighteenth century eastern Europe.
- SHNEUR ZALMAN (1746-1812) synthesized Talmudic Judaism with Hasidic Pietism in a
tractate known as Tania. Centre of movement was Belorussian town of Lubavitch, they are often
called Lubavitcher Hasidim or HABAD. These jews are centered in Brooklyn, New York now.
They proselytize and for that reason they have opened branches in many contries including Israel
^^^this illustrates important point. HABAD resemble Orthodox Jews but they aren't, neither in
practice or belief. Baal Shem Tov's many disciples went on to create many different factions of
Hasidism which fiercely compete with one another, not unlike the many protestant
denominations.And like Protestantism, Hasidism does not get along with each other nor the
mainstream orthodox jews from which they sprouted, who, like the Catholics, remain quite
hostile to these offshoots.
- Jews instructed to pray before they go to sleep and when they rise
- temple prayers were three times a day, so jews pray three times a day: morning, afternoon,
- SHEMA: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, recited morning and night.
CONTENT OF PRAYER
- no prayer to any intermediary beings (angels, saints, messiahs, etc)
- prayer subject to same ethical standards that govern every other aspect of jewish life (so you
can't pray for an advantage that adversely affects anyone else, etc. not even allowed to pray for
the fall of your enemies)
- prayer for the benefit of others is strongly encouraged
- prayer on the whole is something that unites jews the world over, regardless of tradition
- by tradition, the language of prayer is Hebrew, and many prayers end with word amen, meaning
so be it.
ITEMS WORN IN PRAYER
- helps to foster kavvanah (proper state of mind for prayer)
- TALLITH, prayer shawl.
- scullcap called KIPPAH in hebrew or YARMULKE in Yiddish. more traitional Jews wear it
all the time since prayer could happen at any time.
- TEFILLIN or PHYLACTERIES, traditional prayer garb worn by men on weekdays. two
small black boxes that hold passages from scripture, tied to forehead and upper arm
- many of these items are used religiously by orthodox jews whereas they have been jettisoned
by the majority of reform jews. BLESSINGS
- blessing every mean. "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe" then followed
by thanksgiving fro whatever is before you or you choose.
- sabbath begins friday sundown and goes to saturday sundown.
- on Friday evenign, many jews attend Synagogue service
- each sabbath is consecrated by special prayers.
- observant jews cease all work by sundown on friday so they can experience to the fullest the
special quiet of a day devoted entirely to song, prayer, and contemplation.
- sabbath built into order of universe in genesis 1
- sabbath dinner before sabbath is a special one with hymns, fine foods, special dishware
"DENIED A COUNTRY OF THEIR OWN, WITH THEIR OWN GREAT RELIGIOUS
MONUMENTS, THE JEWISH PEOPLE INSTEAD BUILT UP A SYSTEM THAT SANTIFIED
EVERYDAY LIFE AND SOUGHT THE PRESENCE OF GOD IN IT."
- on saturday, synagogue services continue through the morning. afternoon devoted to learning or
quiet contemplation. a return to the synagoge in the evening to mark the end of sabbath with a
boundary marking observance called HAVDALAH. celebrated with wine, a braided candle, and
a spice box symbolizing the sweetness of the sabbath.
- orthodox jews do nothing that could be defined as work: kindling a fire or cooking food,
driving a car or playing tennis. they may not even turn on a light or push an elevator button
because using electricity falls into building a fire category!
- "eruv" is any kind of sabbath pro