Note: The division points between the commandments vary between Jewish and non-Jewish observance. The Jewish divisions of
the text-Exodus 20:2-1 7are used here.)
1. I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
2. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any
thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow
down unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children
unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto the thou-sandth generation of them that
love Me and keep My commandments.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is a sabbath
unto the Lord thy God, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant,
nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and
earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day, wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed
5. Honor thy father and mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
10.Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant,
nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.
The Hebrew Bible is largely an account of the Israelites' relationship with God as reflected in their earliest history until
the building of the Second Temple (c. 350 BCE). This relationship is often portrayed as contentious, as Hebrews struggle between
their faith in God and their attraction for other gods, and as some Hebrews, such as Abraham; (most notably and directly),
Jacob, the father of all Israelites — later known as Israel; and Moses struggle with God.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the Earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the
face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, " Let there be light," and there
was light. And God saw the light , that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light
Day and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, " Let there be a firmament
in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the
firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be
gathered unto one place,and let the dry land appear": and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering
together of the waters called the Seas; and God saw that it was good. And God said, " Let the earth bring forth grass, the
herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth": and it was
so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was
in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
The Heart of the Torah
Heed not unreal Gods:
You shall be holy, for I your God am holy. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges for
your field nor gather the gleanings of you harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, nor gather the fallen gapes of
your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien. You hall be holy, for I your God am holy. You shall not steal,
cheat, or lie to one another. You must not take a false oath in my name. You shall be holy, for I your God am holy. You shall
not defraud nor rob; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until the morning. You shall be holy, for
I your God am holy. You must not curse a deaf person, nor put obstacles in the way of a blind person.
You shall be holy, for I your God am holy. You shall not be guilty of any injustice,neither partiality to the poor, nor deferring
to the powerful, but judging fairly. You shall be holy, for I your God am holy. You shall not play the part of a talebbearer
against your people. You shall not avenge yourself not bear a grudge, but you must love your neighbor as you love yourself.
I am the Eternal. ------Leviticus 19
Historically, Judaism has considered belief in the divine revelation and acceptance of the Written and Oral Torah as its fundamental
core belief. This gave rise to many different formulations as to the specific theological beliefs inherent in the Torah and
Talmud. While individual rabbis have at times agreed upon a firm formulation, generally other rabbis have disagreed, many
criticizing any such attempt as minimizing acceptance of the entire Torah (Rabbi S. of Montpelier, Yad Rama, Y. Alfacher,
Rosh Amanah). Along these lines, the ancient historian Josephus emphasized practices and observances rather than religious
beliefs, associating apostasy with a failure to observe Jewish law, and suggesting the requirements for conversion to Judaism
included circumcision and adherence to traditional customs. Notably, in the Talmud some principles of faith (e.g., the Divine
origin of the Torah) are considered important enough that rejection of them can put one in the category of "apikoros" (heretic).
Over the centuries, a number of clear formulations of Jewish principles of faith have appeared, and though they differ with
respect to certain details, they demonstrate a commonality of core ideology. Of these, the one most widely considered authoritative
is Maimonides' thirteen principles of faith. These principles were controversial when first proposed, evoking criticism by
Crescas and Joseph Albo. The thirteen principles were ignored by much of the Jewish community for the next few centuries.
(Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought, Menachem Kellner). Over time two poetic restatements of these principles (Ani Ma'amin and
Yigdal) became canonized in the Jewish prayerbook, and eventually became widely held. Today most of Orthodox Judaism holds
these beliefs to be obligatory, and that anyone who does not fully accept each one of them as potentially heretical:
1. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, is the Creator and Guide of everything that has
been created; He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.
2. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, is One, and that there is no unity in any manner
like His, and that He alone is our God, who was, and is, and will be.
3. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, is not a body, and that He is free from all the
properties of matter, and that there can be no (physical) comparison to Him whatsoever.
4. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, is the first and the last.
5. I believe with perfect faith that to the Creator, blessed be His Name, and to Him alone, it is right to pray, and that
it is not right to pray to any being besides Him.
6. I believe with perfect faith that all the works of the prophets are true.
7. I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses, our teacher, peace be upon him, was true, and that he was the
chief of the prophets, both of those who preceded him and of those who followed him.
8. I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that is now in our possession is the same that was given to Moses,
our teacher, peace be upon him.
9. I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be changed, and that there will never be any other Law from the
Creator, blessed be His name.
10. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, knows all the deeds of human beings, and all their
thoughts, as it is said: “[He] that fashioned the hearts of them all, [He] that comprehends all their actions.”
11. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His Name, rewards those that keep His commandments and punishes
those that transgress them.
12. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and even though he may tarry, with all this I wait every
day for his coming.
13. I believe with perfect faith that there will be a revival of the dead at the time when it shall please the Creator,
blessed be His name, and exalted be His Name forever and ever.
Some, such as Rabbi Joseph Albo and the Raavad, criticized Maimonides' list as containing too many items that, while true,
were not fundamentals of the faith, and thus placed too many Jews in the category of "heretic", rather than those who were
simply in error. Many others criticized any such formulation as minimizing acceptance of the entire Torah (see above). As
noted however, neither Maimonides nor his contemporaries viewed these principles as encompassing all of Jewish belief, but
rather as the core theological underpinnings of the acceptance of Judaism.
Rosh Hashanah celebrates both the religious New Year and the creation of the earth as described in the early chapters of the
book of Genesis. Some branches celebrate both days of this holiday; others (i.e., the majority of Reform congregations) only
the first day. Work is not performed.
On this day, which takes place shortly after Rosh Hashanah on the 10th day of Tishrei, practicing Jews the world over observe
the Day of Atonement. From the sundown that marks the beginning of Yom Kippur until the sundown of the following day, believers
forego food and drink, do no work, and repent for misdeeds of the year just past.
The harvest celebration known as the Feast of Booths lasts for eight days and generally takes place late in the month of October
(using the secular Gregorian calendar). It is common to perform no work at the beginning and end of the celebration, but the
number of days observed in this manner vary.
The beneficiary, perhaps, of undue media attention because of its (coincidental) placement near the Christian observance of
the birth of Christ, Chanukah is often presented as a "Jewish alternative" to Christ-mas. This is unfortunate, as the Festival
of Lights deserves honor, attention, and recognition on its own terms and within its own tradition. The holiday known as the
Festival of Lights celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrians in the 2nd century B.C.E. It begins on the 25th
day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (usually early- to mid-December). Work is permitted during Chanukah.
Hanukkah lamp, Vienna ,circa 1900
A festival celebration commencing on the 14th day of the Hebrew month Adar (usually late February or early March), Purim commemorates
the deliverance of Persian Jews from destruction, as recounted in the book of Esther. This joyous festival is preceded by
a day of fasting, and soon gives way to general merrymaking. Work is permitted on Purim.
This major holiday, which begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan, honors the delivery of the Jewish people from slavery
in Egypt. According to the book of Exodus, God issued a set of instructions for the Israelites: They were to prepare a special
feast in great haste before the departure from Egypt. With no time for bread to rise, the bread at the meal would have to
be unleavened. Exodus also reports that God arranged for the Angel of Death to destroy the first-born males of the Egyptians,
and to "pass over" the marked houses of the Israelites, killing no one within. The Passover celebration, during which practicing
Jews abstain from foods prepared with yeast or any other leavening agent, is observed (usually beginning in late March or
early April) for seven days by Reform Jews and for eight by members of the other major branches. Many Jews (espe-cially those
who follow the Orthodox tradition) perform no work on the first and last two days of the period, but observances vary.
This holiday celebrates both the spring harvest season and God's gift of the Torah. It takes place on the sixth and seventh
days of the month of Sivan, which corresponds to May or June in the secular Gregorian calendar. As a general rule, Orthodox
Jews do no work on these days; a number of Conservative and Reconstructionist practitioners follow the same practice, but
Reform Jews celebrate Shavout for a single day.
The baby boy is at the center of the brit milah (covenant of circumcision), the ritual removal of the foreskin enacted in
accordance with Genesis 17:10. This ceremony takes place on the eighth day of the baby boy's life. A parallel naming ceremony
for infant girls is known as the brit hayyim (covenant of life) or brit bat (covenant of the daughter). This, too, occurs
on the eighth day of life.
At the age of 13, a Jewish male marks his entry into the community as an adult during his bar mitzvah (son of the commandment).
The female counterpart is known as a bat mitzvah (daughter of the commandment), and can be held for females as young as 12.
The bat mitrvah was first celebrated in the twentieth century.
The Jewish marriage ceremony is known as the kiddushin (sanctification). It takes place under a wedding canopy known as a
huppah, and incorporates the ritual breaking of a glass underfoot, an act that commemorates a sad event in Jewish history,
the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 G.E.
Funeral observances in the Jewish tradition follow distinct guidelines that may vary depending on the branch of Judaism in
question. (Reform Jews, for instance, permit cremation, while Jews of most other traditions observe injunctions against the
Jewish customs, rituals, and dietary guidelines provided both social cohesion and rules for law abiding life among ancient
Israelites, just as they do for practicing Jews today.
The moment-to-moment celebration of life itself, in all its diversity, underlies Jewish worship, observance, and ritual, although
different branches of the faith take different approaches to the ideal forms of this celebration.
Major Jewish holidays include Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover.
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