Beliefs of Judaism

Friday, April 24, 2009

A 15th century Jewish philosopher said: “if I knew God, I would be God”. As with so many aspects of Judaism, even the basic perception of the deity, as well as the nature of God’s relationship to man, cannot be reduced to one all-embracing mandatory and universally accepted creed. Some scholars are fond of saying that Judaism has no dogma or creed in the Christian sense. Rabbinic Judaism, medieval philosophers, Jewish mystics and modern theologians have all tried to formulate a definitive statement about what a Jew is expected to believe. The very profusion of such attempts points to their futility.

Here we will touch on some major issues of faith that appeared on the Jewish scene throhout history. Issues of free will, fate, determinism, reward and punishment, individual afterlife and the world to come. If you want to know what some people consider to be the basic tenets of Judaism, go to the article: What is Judaism.

  1. Fate and Free Will in Judaism. Pharisee, Sadducees and Essenes: During the last centuries B.C.E., Judaism seems to have experienced a certain diversification. Different groups with widely varied beliefs regarding the essence of God and God’s role in this world appeared on the scene.

  2. The Afterlife in Judaism: By the Middle Ages, Jewish philosophers, such as Maimonides, claimed that there is reward and punishment after death. They considered belief in reward and punishment to be a major article of faith. They, too, had no doubts that these rewards are primarily connected to a future existence.

  3. Messianic Judaism: The idea of the Messiah has wielded an enormous influence in Jewish history, but the nature of the belief always was in constant flux. There seems to be a tension between varying perceptions of the Messianic phenomenon.