What Do Jews Believe?: The Spiritual Foundations of Judaism
Once understood as an inherited tradition, religion is increasingly viewed today as a matter of personal choice, an experience to be examined and explored. Yet while many American Jews feel an emotional attachment to Judaism, they cannot always articulate the beliefs that define their faith. In this provocative study, David Ariel explores the diverse and colorful views of Jewish thinkers on the profound issues of God, human destiny, good and evil, chosenness, Torah, and messianism, among many other subjects. Despite a diversity of views, Ariel finds an overarching structure in the "sacred myths" that Jews of every orientation return to as their core beliefs - the essential ideas that each generation strives to interpret and apply to life. To call these beliefs "myths" does not mean that they are fairy tales, but rather that they are starting points that define the essence of faith. Meaning, Ariel argues, is always presented in the language of the myths, or beliefs, that a culture holds sacred, and the sacred myths of Judaism reveal the special nature of Jewish spirituality. This spirited, clarifying discussion guides us toward a definition of the beliefs that shape Jewish identity, providing the rationale and stimulus for a reconnection to the spiritual tradition of Judaism.
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Abraham actions afterlife Akiva behavior Bialik and Ravnitzky Bible biblical Blessed body Book of Legends Buber called challenge chosen Christianity commandments concept Conservative Judaism converts covenant created daism David destiny dietary laws divine ethical evil impulse existence Exodus expression father Genesis God's Halakhah Hasidism heaven Hebrew Heschel Holy human Ibid idea ideal individual Isaiah Israel Israelites Jerusalem Jesus Jewish belief Jewish community Jewish law Jewish messianism Jewish mystics Jewish spirituality Jewish thinkers Jews Jews believe Joshua Judah Kabbalah Kabbalists king lives Lord Maimonides Martin Buber meaning medieval midrash Mishnah Mishneh Torah mitzvot modern moral Moses myths of Judaism nations nefesh neshamah ofTorah passage person philosophers pray prayer book prophet punishment Rabbi Akiva rabbinic Judaism rabbis believed redeemer redemption Reform Judaism regarded religion religious righteous ritual Sabbatean Sabbath sacred myths sages Sanhedrin Sefirot Shekhinah Sinai soul synagogue Talmud teachings teshuvah tion tradition transcendent wicked words Yohanan ben Zakkai