From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Judaica (clockwise from top): Shabbat candlesticks, handwashing cup, Chumash and Tanakh, Torah pointer, shofar and etrog box

Judaism (originally from Hebrew יהודה‬, Yehudah, "Judah"; via Latin and Greek) is the religion of the Jewish people. It is an ancient, monotheistic, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text. It encompasses the religion, philosophy, 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 corpus of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later 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. Historically, this assertion was challenged by various groups such as the Sadducees and Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period; the Karaites and Sabbateans during the early and later medieval period; and among segments of the modern non-Orthodox denominations. Modern branches of Judaism such as Humanistic Judaism may be nontheistic. Today, the largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism (Haredi Judaism and Modern Orthodox Judaism), Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism. Major sources of difference between these groups are their approaches to Jewish law, the authority of the Rabbinic tradition, and the significance of the State of Israel. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin, eternal and unalterable, and that they should be strictly followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism generally 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. Historically, special courts enforced Jewish law; today, these courts still exist but the practice of Judaism is mostly voluntary. 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.

Selected Article

Birkhat cohanim 1.JPG

A Kohen (plural: Kohanim) is a direct patrilineal descendant of Aaron, the brother of Moses. In the times of the Temple, Kohanim performed nearly all of the services there, where they were divided into twenty-four family groups, and led by the Kohen Gadol. They also recite the Priestly Blessing to the congregation in synagogues. Kohanim receive twenty-four gifts, only a few of which apply today. They are given precedence in many matters, including the reading of the Torah. Kohanim are also subject to a few prohibitions, including marrying a divorcee and entering a cemetery. (Read more...)

Did You Know?

Did you know...

Jewish Orphanage of Berlin-Pankow

Related Categories

Featured Articles

Related Portals

History Article

Temple Sinai of Oakland

Temple Sinai is a Reform Jewish congregation located at 2808 Summit Street in Oakland, California. Founded in 1875, it is the oldest Jewish congregation in the East Bay. Its early members included Gertrude Stein and Judah Leon Magnes, who studied at Temple Sinai's Sabbath school, and Ray Frank, who taught them. Originally traditional, under the leadership of Rabbi Marcus Friedlander (1893–1915) Temple Sinai reformed its beliefs and practices. By 1914, it had become a Classical Reform congregation. That year the current sanctuary was built, a Beaux-Arts structure designed by G. Albert Lansburgh which is the oldest synagogue in Oakland. The congregation weathered four major financial crises by 1934. It has since been led by just three rabbis, William Stern (1934–1965), Samuel Broude (1966–1989), and Steven Chester (1989–present). In 2006 Temple Sinai embarked on a $15 million capital campaign to construct an entirely new synagogue campus adjacent to its current sanctuary. Groundbreaking took place in October 2007, and by late 2009 the congregation had raised almost $12 million towards the construction. As of 2010, the Temple Sinai had nearly 1,000 member families. The rabbis were Steven Chester, Jacqueline Mates-Muchin, and Andrea Berlin, and the hazzan was Ilene Keys. (Read more...)

Picture of the Week

Jemenittisk sjofar av kuduhorn.jpg

A Yemenite shofar made from a horn of the greater kudu

Credit: Olve Utne (talk)

In the News

Featured Quote


Things You Can Do

Weekly Torah Portion

Ki Teitzei (כי תצא)
Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19
The Weekly Torah portion in synagogues on Shabbat, Saturday, 14 Elul, 5778—August 25, 2018
“If you see your fellow’s ass or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it; you must help him raise it.” (Deuteronomy 22:4.)

Moses directed the Israelites that when God delivered enemies into their power, the Israelites took captives, an Israelite saw among the captives a beautiful woman, he desired her, and wanted to marry her, the Israelite was to bring her into his house and have her trim her hair, pare her nails, discard her captive's garb, and spend a month lamenting her father and mother. Thereafter, the Israelite could take her as his wife. But if he should find that he no longer wanted her, he had to release her outright, and not sell her for money as a slave.

If a man had two wives, one loved and one unloved, both bore him sons, but the unloved one bore him his firstborn son, then when he willed his property to his sons, he could not treat the son of the loved wife as firstborn in disregard of the older son of the unloved wife; rather, he was required to accept the firstborn, the son of the unloved one, and allot to him his birthright of a double portion of all that he possessed.

impalement of Judeans in a Neo-Assyrian relief

If a couple had a wayward and defiant son, who did not heed his father or mother and did not obey them even after they disciplined him, then they were to bring him to the elders of his town and publicly declare their son to be disloyal, defiant, heedless, a glutton, and a drunkard. The men of his town were then to stone him to death.

If the community executed a man for a capital offense and impaled him on a stake, they were not to let his corpse remain on the stake overnight, but were to bury him the same day, for an impaled body affronted God.

If one found another’s lost ox, sheep, ass, garment, or any other lost thing, then the finder could not ignore it, but was required to take it back to its owner. If the owner did not live near the finder or the finder did not know the identity of the owner, then the finder was to bring the thing home and keep it until the owner claimed it.

If one came upon another’s ass or ox fallen on the road, then one could not ignore it, but was required to help the owner to raise it.
Mother sandpiper and egg in nest

A woman was not to put on man's apparel, nor a man wear woman's clothing.

If one came upon a bird's nest with the mother bird sitting over fledglings or eggs, then one could not take the mother together with her young, but was required to let the mother go and take only the young.

When one built a new house, one had to make a parapet for the roof, so that on one should fall from it.


One was not to sow a vineyard with a second kind of seed, nor use the yield of such vineyard. One was not to plow with an ox and an ass together. One was not to wear cloth combining wool and linen.

One was to make tassels (tzitzit) on the four corners of the garment with which one covered oneself.

If a man married a woman, cohabited with her, took an aversion to her, and falsely charged her with not having been a virgin at the time of the marriage, then the woman’s parents were to produce the cloth with evidence of the woman’s virginity before the town elders at the town gate. The elders were then to have the man flogged and fine him 100 shekels of silver to be paid to the woman's father. The woman was to remain the man’s wife, and he was never to have the right to divorce her. But if the elders found that woman had not been a virgin, then the woman was to be brought to the entrance of her father’s house and stoned to death by the men of her town.

If a man was found lying with another man's wife, both the man and the woman with whom he lay were to die.

If in a city, a man lay with a virgin who was engaged to a man, then the authorities were to take the two of them to the town gate and stone them to death — the girl because she did not cry for help, and the man because he violated another man's wife. But if the man lay with the girl by force in the open country, only the man was to die, for there was no one to save her.

If a man seized a virgin who was not engaged and lay with her, then the man was to pay the girl's father 50 shekels of silver, she was to become the man’s wife, and he was never to have the right to divorce her.

No man could marry his father's former wife.

God’s congregation could not admit into membership anyone whose testes were crushed, anyone whose member was cut off, anyone misbegotten, anyone descended within ten generations from one misbegotten, any Ammonite or Moabite, or anyone descended within ten generations from an Ammonite or Moabite. As long as they lived, Israelites were not to concern themselves with the welfare or benefit of Ammonites or Moabites, because they did not meet the Israelites with food and water after the Israelites left Egypt, and because they hired Balaam to curse the Israelites — but God refused to heed Balaam, turning his curse into a blessing.

The Israelites were not to abhor the Edomites, for they were kinsman, nor Egyptians, for the Israelites were strangers in Egypt. Great grandchildren of Edomites or Egyptians could be admitted into the congregation.

Any Israelite rendered unclean by a nocturnal emission had to leave the Israelites military camp, bathe in water toward evening, and reenter the camp at sundown. The Israelites were to designate an area outside the camp where they might relieve themselves, and to carry a spike to dig a hole and cover up their excrement. As God moved about in their camp to protect them and to deliver their enemies, the Israelites were to keep their camp holy.

If a slave sought refuge with the Israelites, they were not to turn the slave over to the slave’s master, but were to let the former slave live in any place the former slave might choose among the Israelites’ settlements and not ill-treat the former slave.

Israelites were forbidden to serve as cult prostitutes, and from bringing the wages of prostitution into the house of God in fulfillment of any vow.

Israelites were forbidden to charge interest on loans to their countrymen, but they could charge interest on loans to foreigners.


Israelites were required promptly to fulfill vows to God, whereas they incurred no guilt if they refrained from vowing.

A visiting Israelite was allowed to enter another’s vineyard and eat grapes until full, but the visitor was forbidden to put any in a vessel. Similarly, a visiting Israelite was allowed to enter another’s field of standing grain and pluck ears by hand, but the visitor was forbidden to cut the neighbor’s grain with a sickle.

A divorced woman who remarried and then lost her second husband to divorce or death was not allowed to remarry her first husband.

A newlywed man was exempt from army duty for one year so as to give happiness to his wife.

Israelites were forbidden to take a handmill or an upper millstone in pawn, for that would be equivalent to taking someone’s livelihood in pawn.

One found to have kidnapped a fellow Israelite was to die.

In cases of a skin affection, Israelites were to do exactly as the priests instructed, remembering that God afflicted and then healed Miriam's skin]after the Israelites left Egypt.

An Israelite who lent to a fellow Israelite was forbidden to enter the borrower's house to seize a pledge, but was required to remain outside while the borrower brought the pledge out to the lender. If the borrower was needy, the lender was forbidden to sleep in the pledge, but had to return the pledge to the borrower at sundown, so that the borrower might sleep in the cloth and bless the lender before God.

Israelites were forbidden to abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether an Israelite or a stranger, and were required to pay the laborer’s wages on the same day, before the sun set, as the laborer would urgently depend on the wages.

“Summer” (painting by Leopold Graf von Kalckreuth)

Parents were not to be put to death for children, nor were children to be put to death for parents: a person was to be put to death only for the person's own crime.

Israelites were forbidden to subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless, and were forbidden to take a widow’s garment in pawn, remembering that they were slaves in Egypt and that God redeemed them. When Israelites reaped the harvest in their fields and overlooked a sheaf, they were not to turn back to get it, but were to leave it to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.
“The Olive Trees” (painting by Vincent van Gogh)

Similarly, when Israelites beat down the fruit of their olive trees or gathered the grapes of their vineyards, they were not to go over them again, but were leave what remained for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, remembering that they were slaves in Egypt.

When one was to be flogged, the magistrate was to have the guilty one lie down and be whipped in the magistrate’s presence as warranted, but not more than 40 lashes, so that the guilty one would not be degraded.

Israelites were forbidden to muzzle an ox while it was threshing. When brothers dwelt together and one of them died leaving no son, the surviving brother was to marry the wife of the deceased and perform the levir’s duty, and the first son that she bore was to be accounted to the dead brother, that his name might survive. But if the surviving brother did not want to marry his brother’s widow, then the widow was to appear before the elders at the town gate and declare that the brother refused to perform the levir's duty, the elders were to talk to him, and if he insisted, the widow was to go up to him before the elders, pull the sandal off his foot, spit in his face, and declare: “Thus shall be done to the man who will not build up his brother’s house!” They shall then call him “the family of the unsandaled one.”

If two men fought with each other, and to save her husband the wife of one seized the other man’s genitals, then her hand was to be cut off.

Israelites were forbidden to have alternate weights or measures, larger and smaller, but were required to have completely honest weights and measures.

Israelites were required to remember what the Amalekites did to them on their journey, after they left Egypt, surprising them and cutting down all the stragglers at their rear. The Israelites were enjoined not to forget to blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.

Hebrew and English text
Hear the parshah chanted
Commentary from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University (Conservative)
Commentary from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Conservative)
Commentary by the Union for Reform Judaism (Reform)
Commentaries from Project Genesis (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Chabad.org (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Aish HaTorah (Orthodox)
Commentaries from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (Reconstructionist)
Commentaries from My Jewish Learning (trans-denominational)


Associated Wikimedia

The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:






Learning resources