Aaron is a prophet, high priest, the brother of Moses in the Abrahamic religions. Knowledge of Aaron, along with his brother Moses, comes from religious texts, such as the Bible and Quran; the Hebrew Bible relates that, unlike Moses, who grew up in the Egyptian royal court and his elder sister Miriam remained with their kinsmen in the eastern border-land of Egypt. When Moses first confronted the Egyptian king about the Israelites, Aaron served as his brother's spokesman to the Pharaoh. Part of the Law that Moses received from God at Sinai granted Aaron the priesthood for himself and his male descendants, he became the first High Priest of the Israelites. Aaron died before the Israelites crossed the North Jordan river and he was buried on Mount Hor. Aaron is mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible. According to the Book of Exodus, Aaron first functioned as Moses' assistant; because Moses complained that he could not speak well, God appointed Aaron as Moses' "prophet". At the command of Moses, he let his rod turn into a snake.
He stretched out his rod in order to bring on the first three plagues. After that, Moses tended to speak for himself. During the journey in the wilderness, Aaron was not always active. At the battle with Amalek, he was chosen with Hur to support the hand of Moses that held the "rod of God"; when the revelation was given to Moses at biblical Mount Sinai, he headed the elders of Israel who accompanied Moses on the way to the summit. While Joshua went with Moses to the top, however and Hur remained below to look after the people. From here on in Exodus and Numbers, Joshua appears in the role of Moses' assistant while Aaron functions instead as the first high priest; the books of Exodus and Numbers maintain that Aaron received from God a monopoly over the priesthood for himself and his male descendants. The family of Aaron had the exclusive right and responsibility to make offerings on the altar to Yahweh; the rest of his tribe, the Levites, were given subordinate responsibilities within the sanctuary.
Moses anointed and consecrated Aaron and his sons to the priesthood, arrayed them in the robes of office. He related to them God's detailed instructions for performing their duties while the rest of the Israelites listened. Aaron and his successors as high priest were given control over the Urim and Thummim by which the will of God could be determined. God commissioned the Aaronide priests to distinguish the holy from the common and the clean from the unclean, to teach the divine laws to the Israelites; the priests were commissioned to bless the people. When Aaron completed the altar offerings for the first time and, with Moses, "blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people: And there came a fire out from before the LORD, consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat when all the people saw, they shouted, fell on their faces". In this way, the institution of the Aaronide priesthood was established. In books of the Hebrew Bible and his kin are not mentioned often except in literature dating to the Babylonian captivity and later.
The books of Judges and Kings mention priests and Levites, but do not mention the Aaronides in particular. The Book of Ezekiel, which devotes much attention to priestly matters, calls the priestly upper class the Zadokites after one of King David's priests, it does reflect a two-tier priesthood with the Levites in subordinate position. A two-tier hierarchy of Aaronides and Levites appears in Ezra and Chronicles; as a result, many historians think that Aaronide families did not control the priesthood in pre-exilic Israel. What is clear is that high priests claiming Aaronide descent dominated the Second Temple period. Most scholars think the Torah reached its final form early in this period, which may account for Aaron's prominence in Exodus and Numbers. Aaron plays a leading role in several stories of conflicts during Israel's wilderness wanderings. During the prolonged absence of Moses on Mount Sinai, the people provoked Aaron to make a golden calf.. This incident nearly caused God to destroy the Israelites.
Moses intervened, but led the loyal Levites in executing many of the culprits. Aaron, escaped punishment for his role in the affair, because of the intercession of Moses according to Deuteronomy 9:20. Retellings of this story always excuse Aaron for his role. For example, in rabbinic sources and in the Quran, Aaron was not the idol-maker and upon Moses' return begged his pardon because he felt mortally threatened by the Israelites. On the day of Aaron's consecration, his oldest sons and Abihu, were burned up by divine fire because they offered "strange" incense. Most interpreters think this story reflects a conflict between priestly families some time in Israel's past. Others argue that the story shows what can happen if the priests do not follow God's instructions given through Moses; the Torah depicts the siblings, Moses and Miriam, as the leaders of Israel after the Exodus, a view reflected in the biblical Book of Micah. Numbers 12, reports that on one occasion and Miriam complained about Moses' exclusive claim to be the LORD's prophet.
Their presumption was rebuffed by God who affirmed Moses' uniqueness as the
Moses was a prophet according to the teachings of the Abrahamic religions. Scholarly consensus sees Moses as a legendary figure. According to the Hebrew Bible, he was adopted by an Egyptian princess, in life became the leader of the Israelites and lawgiver, to whom the authorship of the Torah, or acquisition of the Torah from Heaven is traditionally attributed. Called Moshe Rabbenu in Hebrew, he is the most important prophet in Judaism, he is an important prophet in Christianity, the Bahá'í Faith, a number of other Abrahamic religions. According to the Book of Exodus, Moses was born in a time when his people, the Israelites, an enslaved minority, were increasing in numbers and the Egyptian Pharaoh was worried that they might ally themselves with Egypt's enemies. Moses' Hebrew mother, secretly hid him when the Pharaoh ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed in order to reduce the population of the Israelites. Through the Pharaoh's daughter, the child was adopted as a foundling from the Nile river and grew up with the Egyptian royal family.
After killing an Egyptian slavemaster, Moses fled across the Red Sea to Midian, where he encountered The Angel of the Lord, speaking to him from within a burning bush on Mount Horeb. God sent Moses back to Egypt to demand the release of the Israelites from slavery. Moses said that he could not speak eloquently, so God allowed Aaron, his brother, to become his spokesperson. After the Ten Plagues, Moses led the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, after which they based themselves at Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses died within sight of the Promised Land on Mount Nebo. Jerome gives 1592 BCE, James Ussher 1571 BCE as Moses' birth year. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses was called "the man of God". Several etymologies have been proposed. An Egyptian root msy, "child of", has been considered as a possible etymology, arguably an abbreviation of a theophoric name, as for example in Egyptian names like Thutmoses and Ramesses, with the god's name omitted.
Abraham Yahuda, based on the spelling given in the Tanakh, argues that it combines "water" or "seed" and "pond, expanse of water", thus yielding the sense of "child of the Nile". The Biblical account of Moses' birth provides him with a folk etymology to explain the ostensible meaning of his name, he is said to have received it from the Pharaoh's daughter: "he became her son. She named him Moses, saying,'I drew him out of the water.'" This explanation links it to a verb mashah, meaning "to draw out", which makes the Pharaoh's daughter's declaration a play on words. The princess made a grammatical mistake, prophetic of his future role in legend, as someone who will "draw the people of Israel out of Egypt through the waters of the Red Sea."The Hebrew etymology in the Biblical story may reflect an attempt to cancel out traces of Moses' Egyptian origins. The Egyptian character of his name was recognized as such by ancient Jewish writers like Philo of Alexandria and Josephus. Philo linked Mōēsēs to the Egyptian word for water, while Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, claimed that the second element, -esês, meant'those who are saved'.
The problem of how an Egyptian princess, known to Josephus as Thermutis and in Jewish tradition as Bithiah, could have known Hebrew puzzled medieval Jewish commentators like Abraham ibn Ezra and Hezekiah ben Manoah. Hezekiah suggested she either took a tip from Jochebed; the Israelites had settled in the Land of Goshen in the time of Joseph and Jacob, but a new pharaoh arose who oppressed the children of Israel. At this time Moses was born to his father Amram, son of Kehath the Levite, who entered Egypt with Jacob's household. Moses had one older sister and one older brother, Aaron; the Pharaoh had commanded that all male Hebrew children born would be drowned in the river Nile, but Moses' mother placed him in an ark and concealed the ark in the bulrushes by the riverbank, where the baby was discovered and adopted by Pharaoh's daughter, raised as an Egyptian. One day after Moses had reached adulthood he killed an Egyptian, beating a Hebrew. Moses, in order to escape the Pharaoh's death penalty, fled to Midian.
There, on Mount Horeb, God appeared to Moses as a burning bush, revealed to Moses his name YHWH and commanded him to return to Egypt and bring his chosen people out of bondage and into the Promised Land. During the journey, God tried to kill Moses because he had not circumcised his son, but Zipporah saved his life. Moses returned to carry out God's command, but God caused the Pharaoh to refuse, only after God had subjected Egypt to ten plagues did the Pharaoh relent. Moses led the Israelites to the border of Egypt, but there God hardened the Pharaoh's heart once more, so that he could destroy the Pharaoh and his army at the Red Sea Crossing as a sign of his power to Israel and the nations. After defeating the Amalekites in Rephidim, Moses led the Israelites to biblical Mount Sinai, where he was given the Ten Commandments from God, written on stone tablets. However, since Moses remained a long time on the mountain, some of the people feared that he might be dead, so they made a statue of a golden calf and worshiped it, thus disobeying and angering God and Moses.
Moses, out of anger, bro
Tiberias is an Israeli city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Established around 20 CE, it was named in honour of the second emperor of the Roman Empire, Tiberius. In 2017 it had a population of 43,664. Tiberias was held in great respect in Judaism from the middle of the 2nd century CE and since the 16th century has been considered one of Judaism's Four Holy Cities, along with Jerusalem and Safed. In the 2nd–10th centuries, Tiberias was the largest Jewish city in the Galilee and the political and religious hub of the Jews of Israel, its immediate neighbour to the south, Hammat Tiberias, now part of modern Tiberias, has been known for its hot springs, believed to cure skin and other ailments, for some two thousand years. See Diocese of Tiberias for ecclesiastical history Jewish tradition holds that Tiberias was built on the site of the ancient Israelite village of Rakkath or Rakkat, first mentioned in the Book of Joshua. In Talmudic times, the Jews still referred to it by this name. Tiberias was founded sometime around 20 CE in the Herodian Tetrarchy of Galilee and Peraea by the Roman client king Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great.
Herod Antipas made it the capital of his realm in the Galilee and named it for the Roman Emperor Tiberius. The city was built in immediate proximity to a spa which had developed around 17 natural mineral hot springs, Hammat Tiberias. Tiberias was at first a pagan city, but became populated by Jews, with its growing spiritual and religious status exerting a strong influence on balneological practices. Conversely, in The Antiquities of the Jews, the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus calls the village with hot springs Emmaus, today's Hammat Tiberias, located near Tiberias; this name appears in The Wars of the Jews. In the days of Herod Antipas, some of the most religiously orthodox Jews, who were struggling against the process of Hellenization, which had affected some priestly groups, refused to settle there: the presence of a cemetery rendered the site ritually unclean for the Jews and for the priestly caste. Antipas settled many non-Jews there from rural Galilee and other parts of his domains in order to populate his new capital, built a palace on the acropolis.
The prestige of Tiberias was so great that the Sea of Galilee soon came to be named the Sea of Tiberias. The city was governed by a city council of 600 with a committee of 10 until 44 CE when a Roman procurator was set over the city after the death of Herod Agrippa I. Tiberias is mentioned in John 6:23 as the location from which boats had sailed to the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee; the crowd seeking Jesus after the miraculous feeding of the 5000 used these boats to travel back to Capernaum on the north-western part of the lake. Under the Roman Empire, the city was known by its Greek name Τιβεριάς, an adaptation of the taw-suffixed Semitic form that preserved its feminine grammatical gender. In 61 CE Herod Agrippa II annexed the city to his kingdom. During the First Jewish–Roman War, the seditious took control of the city and destroyed Herod's palace, were able to prevent the city from being pillaged by the army of Agrippa II, the Jewish ruler who had remained loyal to Rome; the seditious were expelled from Tiberias, while most other cities in the provinces of Judaea and Idumea were razed, Tiberias was spared this fate because its inhabitants had decided not to fight against Rome.
It became a mixed city after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. There is no direct indication that Tiberias, as well as the rest of Galilee, took part in the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132–136 CE, thus allowing it to exist, despite a heavy economic decline due to the war. Following the expulsion of Jews from Judea after 135 CE, Tiberias and its neighbor Sepphoris became the major Jewish cultural centres, competing within the Jewish world for status and recognition with Babylon, Alexandria and the Persian Empire. In 145 CE, Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai, familiar with the Galilee, hiding there for over a decade, "cleansed the city of ritual impurity", allowing the Jewish leadership to resettle there from the Judea Province, where they were fugitives; the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court fled from Jerusalem during the Great Jewish Revolt against Rome, after several attempted moves, in search of stability settled in Tiberias in about 150 CE. It was to be its final meeting place before its disbanding in the early Byzantine period.
When Johanan bar Nappaha settled in Tiberias, the city became the focus of Jewish religious scholarship in the land. The Mishnah, the collected theological discussions of generations of rabbis in the Land of Israel – in the academies of Tiberias and Caesarea – was compiled in Tiberias by Rabbi Judah haNasi around 200 CE; the Jerusalem Talmud would follow being compiled by Rabbi Jochanan between 230–270 CE. Tiberias' 13 synagogues served the spiritual needs of a growing Jewish population. In the 6th century Tiberias was still the seat of Jewish religious learning. In light of this, a letter of Syriac bishop Simeon of Beth Arsham urged the Christians of Palaestina to seize the leaders of Judaism in Tiberias, to put them to the rack, to compel them to command the Jewish king, Dhu Nuwas, to desist from persecuting the Christians in Najran. In 614, Tiberias was the site where, during the final Jewish revolt against the Byzantine Empire, parts of the Jewish population supported the Persian invaders.
The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the centerpiece of Jewish cultural life and was foundational to "all Jewish thought and aspirations", serving as "the guide for the daily life" of Jews; the term "Talmud" refers to the collection of writings named the Babylonian Talmud, although there is an earlier collection known as the Jerusalem Talmud. It may traditionally be called Shas, a Hebrew abbreviation of shisha sedarim, or the "six orders" of the Mishnah; the Talmud has two components. The term "Talmud" may refer to either the Gemara alone; the entire Talmud consists of 63 tractates, in standard print is over 6,200 pages long. It is written in Mishnaic Hebrew and Jewish Babylonian Aramaic and contains the teachings and opinions of thousands of rabbis on a variety of subjects, including halakha, Jewish ethics, customs, history and many other topics.
The Talmud is the basis for all codes of Jewish law, is quoted in rabbinic literature. Talmud translates as "instruction, learning", from a root LMD "teach, study". Jewish scholarship was oral. Rabbis expounded and debated the Torah and discussed the Tanakh without the benefit of written works, though some may have made private notes, for example of court decisions; this situation changed drastically as the result of the destruction of the Jewish commonwealth and the Second Temple in the year 70 and the consequent upheaval of Jewish social and legal norms. As the rabbis were required to face a new reality—mainly Judaism without a Temple and Judea without at least partial autonomy—there was a flurry of legal discourse and the old system of oral scholarship could not be maintained, it is during this period. The oldest full manuscript of the Talmud, known as the Munich Talmud, dates from 1342 and is available online; the process of "Gemara" proceeded in what were the two major centers of Jewish scholarship and Babylonia.
Correspondingly, two bodies of analysis developed, two works of Talmud were created. The older compilation is called the Talmud Yerushalmi, it was compiled in the 4th century in Galilee. The Babylonian Talmud was compiled about the year 500; the word "Talmud", when used without qualification refers to the Babylonian Talmud. While the editors of Jerusalem Talmud and Babylonian Talmud each mention the other community, most scholars believe these documents were written independently. Here the argument from silence is convincing." The Jerusalem Talmud known as the Palestinian Talmud, or Talmuda de-Eretz Yisrael, was one of the two compilations of Jewish religious teachings and commentary, transmitted orally for centuries prior to its compilation by Jewish scholars in the Land of Israel. It is a compilation of teachings of the schools of Tiberias and Caesarea, it is written in Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, a Western Aramaic language that differs from its Babylonian counterpart. This Talmud is a synopsis of the analysis of the Mishnah, developed over the course of nearly 200 years by the Academies in Galilee Because of their location, the sages of these Academies devoted considerable attention to analysis of the agricultural laws of the Land of Israel.
Traditionally, this Talmud was thought to have been redacted in about the year 350 by Rav Muna and Rav Yossi in the Land of Israel. It is traditionally known as the Talmud Yerushalmi, but the name is a misnomer, as it was not prepared in Jerusalem, it has more been called "The Talmud of the Land of Israel". Its final redaction belongs to the end of the 4th century, but the individual scholars who brought it to its present form cannot be fixed with assurance. By this time Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire and Jerusalem the holy city of Christendom. In 325, Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, said "let us have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd." This policy made a Jew an pauper. The compilers of the Jerusalem Talmud lacked the time to produce a work of the quality they had intended; the text is not easy to follow. The apparent cessation of work on the Jerusalem Talmud in the 5th century has been associated with the decision of Theodosius II in 425 to suppress the Patriarchate and put an end to the practice of semikhah, formal scholarly ordination.
Some modern scholars have questioned this connection. Despite its incomplete state, the Jerusalem Talmud remains an indispensable source of knowledge of the development of the Jewish Law in the Holy Land, it was an important resource in the study of the Babylonian Talmud by the Kairouan school of Chana
Arba'ah Turim called the Tur, is an important Halakhic code composed by Jacob ben Asher. The four-part structure of the Tur and its division into chapters were adopted by the code Shulchan Aruch; this was the first book to be printed in the Near East. The title of the work in Hebrew means "four rows", in allusion to the jewels on the High Priest's breastplate; each of the four divisions of the work is a "Tur", so a particular passage may be cited as "Tur Orach Chayim, siman 22", meaning "Orach Chayim division, chapter 22". This was misunderstood as meaning "Tur, Orach Chayim, chapter 22", so that "Tur" came to be used as the title of the whole work; the Arba'ah Turim, as the name implies, consists of four divisions. The four Turim are as follows: Orach Chayim - laws of prayer and synagogue, holidays Yoreh De'ah - miscellaneous ritualistic laws, such as shechita and kashrut Even Ha'ezer - laws of marriage, divorce Choshen Mishpat - laws of finance, financial responsibility and legal procedureIn the Arba'ah Turim, Rabbi Jacob traces the practical Jewish law from the Torah text and the dicta of the Talmud through the Rishonim.
He used the code of Rabbi Isaac Alfasi as his starting point. Unlike Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, the Tur is not limited to normative positions, but compares the various opinions on any disputed point; the Arba'ah Turim differs from the Mishneh Torah, in that, unlike Maimonides' work, it deals only with areas of Jewish law that are applicable in the Jewish exile. The best-known commentary on the Arba'ah Turim is the Beit Yosef by rabbi Joseph ben Ephraim Karo: this goes beyond the normal functions of a commentary, in that it attempts to review all the relevant authorities and come to a final decision on every point, so as to constitute a comprehensive resource on Jewish law. Other commentaries are Bayit Chadash by rabbi Joel Sirkis, Darkhei Moshe by Moses Isserles, Beit Yisrael by rabbi Joshua Falk, as well as works by a number of other Acharonim; these defend the views of the Tur against the Beit Yosef. The Tur continues to play an important role in Halakha. Joseph Caro's Shulchan Aruch, the fundamental work of Halakha, is a condensation of his Beit Yosef and follows the basic structure of the Arba'ah Turim, including its division into four sections and chapters - Tur's structure down to the siman is retained in the Shulchan Aruch.
The views in the other commentaries are relevant in ascertaining or explaining the Ashkenazi version of Jewish law, as codified by Moses Isserles in his Mappah. Students of the Shulchan Aruch in Orthodox Semikhah programs study the Tur and the Beit Yosef concurrently with the Shulchan Aruch itself: in some editions the two works are printed together, to allow comparison of corresponding simanim. Mishneh Torah Shulchan Aruch Mishnah Berurah Shulchan Aruch HaRav Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Aruch HaShulchan Arba'ah Turim, Prof. Eliezer Segal "Question 3.38: What is the Arba'ah Turim?". Faqs.org
Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. It is an ancient, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text, it encompasses the religion and culture of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. Judaism encompasses a wide body of texts, theological positions, forms of organization; the Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, supplemental oral tradition represented by texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world. Within Judaism there are a variety of movements, most of which emerged from Rabbinic Judaism, which holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah; this assertion was challenged by various groups such as the Sadducees and Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period.
Modern branches of Judaism such as Humanistic Judaism may be nontheistic. Today, the largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism. Major sources of difference between these groups are their approaches to Jewish law, the authority of the Rabbinic tradition, the significance of the State of Israel. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin and unalterable, that they should be followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism promoting a more traditionalist interpretation of Judaism's requirements than Reform Judaism. A typical Reform position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than as a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews. Special courts enforced Jewish law. Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and the rabbis and scholars who interpret them.
The history of Judaism spans more than 3,000 years. Judaism has its roots as an organized religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Judaism is considered one of the oldest monotheistic religions; the Hebrews and Israelites were referred to as "Jews" in books of the Tanakh such as the Book of Esther, with the term Jews replacing the title "Children of Israel". Judaism's texts and values influenced Abrahamic religions, including Christianity and the Baha'i Faith. Many aspects of Judaism have directly or indirectly influenced secular Western ethics and civil law. Hebraism was just as important a factor in the ancient era development of Western civilization as Hellenism, Judaism, as the background of Christianity, has shaped Western ideals and morality since Early Christianity. Jews are an ethnoreligious group including those born Jewish, in addition to converts to Judaism. In 2015, the world Jewish population was estimated at about 14.3 million, or 0.2% of the total world population. About 43% of all Jews reside in Israel and another 43% reside in the United States and Canada, with most of the remainder living in Europe, other minority groups spread throughout Latin America, Asia and Australia.
Unlike other ancient Near Eastern gods, the Hebrew God is portrayed as solitary. Judaism thus begins with ethical monotheism: the belief that God is one and is concerned with the actions of mankind. According to the Tanakh, God promised Abraham to make of his offspring a great nation. Many generations he commanded the nation of Israel to love and worship only one God, he commanded the Jewish people to love one another. These commandments are but two of a large corpus of commandments and laws that constitute this covenant, the substance of Judaism. Thus, although there is an esoteric tradition in Judaism, Rabbinic scholar Max Kadushin has characterized normative Judaism as "normal mysticism", because it involves everyday personal experiences of God through ways or modes that are common to all Jews; this is played out through the observance of the Halakha and given verbal expression in the Birkat Ha-Mizvot, the short blessings that are spoken every time a positive commandment is to be fulfilled.
The ordinary, everyday things and occurrences we have, constitute occasions for the experience of God. Such things as one's daily sustenance, the day itself, are felt as manifestations of God's loving-kindness, calling for the Berakhot. Kedushah, nothing else than the imitation of God, is concerned with daily conduct, with being gracious and merciful, with keeping oneself from defilement by idolatry and the shedding of blood; the Birkat Ha-Mitzwot evokes the consciousness of holiness at a rabbinic rite, but the objects employed in the majority of these rites are non-holy and of general character, while the several holy objects are non-theurgic. And not only do ordinary things and occurrences bring with them the experience of God. Everything that happens to a man evokes that exp
Reform Judaism is a major Jewish denomination that emphasizes the evolving nature of the faith, the superiority of its ethical aspects to the ceremonial ones, a belief in a continuous revelation intertwined with human reason and intellect, not centered on the theophany at Mount Sinai. A liberal strand of Judaism, it is characterized by a lesser stress on ritual and personal observance, regarding Jewish Law as non-binding and the individual Jew as autonomous, openness to external influences and progressive values; the origins of Reform Judaism lay in 19th-century Germany, where its early principles were formulated by Rabbi Abraham Geiger and his associates. It is identified with progressive political and social agendas under the traditional Jewish rubric Tikkun Olam, or "Repairing of the World". Tikkun Olam is a central motto of Reform Judaism, action for its sake is one of the main channels for adherents to express their affiliation; the movement's greatest center today is in North America.
The various regional branches sharing these beliefs, including the American Union for Reform Judaism, the Movement for Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism in Britain, the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, are all united within the international World Union for Progressive Judaism. Founded in 1926, the WUPJ estimates it represents at least 1.8 million people in 50 countries: close to a million registered adult congregants, as well as numerous unaffiliated individuals who identify with it. This makes it the second-largest Jewish denomination worldwide, its inherent pluralism and great importance placed on individual autonomy impede any simplistic definition of Reform Judaism. They warrant and obligate further modification and reject any fixed, permanent set of beliefs, laws or practices. A clear description became challenging since the turn toward a policy favouring inclusiveness over a coherent theology in the 1970s; this overlapped with what researchers termed as the transition from "Classical" to "New" Reform in America, paralleled in the other, smaller branches across the world.
The movement ceased stressing principles and core beliefs, focusing more on the personal spiritual experience and communal participation. This shift was not accompanied by a distinct new doctrine or by the abandonment of the former, but rather with ambiguity; the leadership allowed and encouraged a wide variety of positions, from selective adoption of halakhic observance to elements approaching religious humanism. The declining importance of the theoretical foundation, in favour of pluralism and equivocalness, did draw large crowds of newcomers, it diversified Reform to a degree that made it hard to formulate a clear definition of it. Early and "Classical" Reform were characterized by a move away from traditional forms of Judaism combined with a coherent theology. Critics, like Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan, warned that Reform became more of a Jewish activities club, a means to demonstrate some affinity to one's heritage in which rabbinical students do not have to believe in any specific theology or engage in any particular practice, rather than a defined belief system.
In regard to God, while some voices among the spiritual leadership approached religious and secular humanism – a tendency that grew from the mid-20th century, both among clergy and constituents, leading to broader, dimmer definitions of the concept – the movement had always maintained a theistic stance, affirming the belief in a personal God. Early Reform thinkers in Germany clung to this precept; the God-Idea as taught in our sacred Scripture" as consecrating the Jewish people to be its priests. It was grounded on a wholly theistic understanding, although the term "God-idea" was excoriated by outside critics. So was the 1937 Columbus Declaration of Principles, which spoke of "One, living God who rules the world"; the 1976 San Francisco Centenary Perspective, drafted at a time of great discord among Reform theologians, upheld "the affirmation of God... Challenges of modern culture have made steady belief difficult for some. We ground our lives and communally, on God's reality." The 1999 Pittsburgh Statement of Principles declared the "reality and oneness of God".
British Liberal Judaism affirms the "Jewish conception of God: One and indivisible and immanent, Creator and Sustainer". The basic tenet of Reform theology is a belief in a continuous, or progressive, occurring continuously and not limited to the theophany at Sinai, the defining event in traditional interpretation. According to this view, all holy scripture of Judaism, including the Pentateuch, were authored by human beings who, although under divine inspiration, inserted their understanding and reflected the spirit of their consecutive ages. All the People Israel are a further link in the chain of revelation, capable of reaching new insights: religion can be renewed without being dependent on past conventions; the chief promulgator of this concept was Abraham Geiger considered the founder of the movement. After critical research led him to regard scripture