What Do Jews Believe?: The Spiritual Foundations of Judaism

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Schocken Books, 1995 - Religion - 290 pages
7 Reviews
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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Review: What Do Jews Believe?: The Spiritual Foundations of Judaism

User Review  - Goodreads

I had to read this book for a class where we are studying the three major Western World Religions [Judaism, Christianity, and Islam]. I found this book a delightful read. It was filled with great ... Read full review

Review: What Do Jews Believe?: The Spiritual Foundations of Judaism

User Review  - Goodreads

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Judaism. Honestly, you could read only the last chapter (the author's letter to his children on why they should choose Judaism) and have a far greater understanding on the subject than many other books I've read. Read full review


Human Destiny
Good and Evil

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Abraham Joshua Heschel actions afterlife Amidah Ashkenaz Baal Shem Tov Babylonia Bahya ibn Pakuda behavior Berakhot Bereshit Rabbah Bialik and Ravnitzky Bible biblical binic Blessed body Book of Daniel Book of Enoch Book of Legends Buber century Christianity commandments Common Era Conservative Judaism conversion to Judaism covenant created Cultural Zionism daism destiny Deuteronomy dietary laws divine Ecclesiastes Rabbah ethical evil existence Exodus expression Franz Rosenzweig Garden of Eden Gehinnom Gemara Gershom Scholem God's Halakhah halakhic Hasidim Hasidism Hayim Nahman Bialik heaven Hebrew Hebrew Bible Holy human idea idolatry image of God impulse individual Isaiah Ishmael Israel Israelites Jerusalem Jewish belief Jewish community Jewish law Jewish messianism Jewish mystics Jewish thinkers Jews Joseph Soloveitchik Judah Judaism Kabbalah Kabbalists kashrut king kingdom of Israel Land of Israel Leviticus lives Lord Maggid of Mezritch Maimonides Martin Buber meaning messianic age messianic era midrash Mishnah Mishneh Torah mitzvah mitzvot modern monotheism moral Mordecai Kaplan Moses Moses Maimonides mystical Nahmanides nations nefesh neshamah Niddah ofTorah Oral Torah person Pesahim philosophers pray prayer prayer book prophet punishment Rabbi Akiva rabbinic Judaism rabbis rather redemption Reform Judaism religion religious righteous ritual Rosh Hashanah ruah Saadya Gaon Sabbatean Sabbath sacred myths sages Samson Raphael Hirsch Sanhedrin Second Temple Sefirot segulah Shabbat Shavuot Shekhinah Siddur Sim Shalom Sigmund Freud Sinai Solomon Buber soul spiritual synagogue Talmud Tannaitic teachings Temple Ten Commandments teshuvah tion Torah Torah study tradition transcendent tzedakah words Yiddish Yohanan ben Zakkai Zohar

About the author (1995)

David S. Ariel is president of the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies and author of The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism

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