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 Orthodox Judaism

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Orthodox Judaism - Orthodox Judaism is not a single movement. It is the name given to all those branches of the Jewish faith that did not substantially modify their beliefs and practices after the emancipation of the Jews.

In the USA Orthodox Jews account for about 10% Jews among adult religious Jews according to data from 2000-2001 and only about 5% among all adult Jews by a different measure. But Orthodox Jews account for the overwhelming majority of religious Jews outside of the USA and Canada.

Two misconceptions about Orthodox Judaism are that it is monolithic and that its practices and beliefs are necessarily ancient. "Orthodox Judaism" comprises all the varieties of the Jewish religion that exist outside the United States and certain European countries, as opposed to Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism and similar denominations, but Orthodox Judaism includes the modernizing Mizrachi movement begun in 1902 by Rabbi Isaac SReines.    

Many "Orthodox" beliefs and practices evolved at or after the time of Maimonides (about 1200 ACE) in the codification of the Shulhan Aruch (16th century) or even later. The dress codes of certain Orthodox Ashkenasi traditions are based on the style of 16th century Eastern Europe.

 

Orthodox Judaism in Israel

In Israel the state recognizes the Orthodox stream exclusively. since Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism are belief systems which flourish in North America, with relatively new branches in Israel.

 

Orthodox Jewish Groups

It is virtually impossible to provide an exhaustive list of Orthodox Jewish Groups, Sine each small community and each Rabbi and his followers may constitute a separate group following somewhat different laws. Some of the larger and more interesting groupings are:

Ashkenazic Orthodox Jews - Orthodox Jews of Eastern and Central European origin have a somewhat different set of customs from other Jews. They are much more zealous about separation of women for example. Orthodox Jews from Australia, Britain and Western Europe who are not refugges of from the East tend to be more liberal.  

Mizrachi, Yemenite and Sephardic Jews usually follow different and more lenient customs than their European counterparts.

 

Chasidim and Mitnagdim (Lithuanian Jews)

A great center of learning evolved in Lithuania, and with it a style of Judaism based on Talmud scholarship and dry learning, and largely unsuited to the mass of semi-literate Jews. A popular movement , known as Hasidism, was founded by Israel ben Eliezer,known as the Baal Shem Tov or the Besht, arose about 1760. Chasidism originally emphasized other, more personal experiences and mysticism as alternative routes to God.

Chasidism was opposed by the more traditional schools od learning centered in Lithuania. Those who opposed Chasidism became known as mitnagdim (opponents), and disputes between the Chasidim and the mitnagdim were often brutal.

Hassidim are simply followers of a rabbi, regardless of religious ideology. A system of Judaism evolved around different rabbis and their students and followers. Leadership of these communities was almost always handed down in dynastic succession rather by merit or democratically. Sects, particularly Hassidic ones,  were organized around a spiritual leader called a Rebbe or a tzaddik, a person considered to be more enlightened than other Jews and often thought to have miracle working and prophetic powers. A Hassid consults his Rebbe about all major life decisions,  

The Lubavitcher Hasidim, followers of rabbi Zalman Schneiur of Miladi and his descendants, are very active and well known. They are probably the closest in spirit to the original Hassidic teaching and try to "convert" other Jews through their Chabad charitable organization..

Agudath Yisrael - This group was originally formed to combat modernization and Zionism. Over the years it has proven less reactionary than some other groups and passively tolerant of Israel. 

The Mizrachi movement - This should not be confused with Mizrachi (non-European) Jews. It is a progressive "liberal" Orthodox movement founded in 1902 by Rabbi Isaac Reines to modernize Orthodoxy and in particular Orthodox education and support Zionism. It's youth movement is the B'nei Akiva movement and its political party is the National Religious Party (NRP). Though originally dovish, members of the movement tend to support the extreme right in Israel.

Haredi or Ultra-Orthodox  or "Hassidic": These are the zealously religious Jews, sometimes ant-Zionist such as the "Edah Haharedit" in Israel, and the Satmar group and the Neturei Karta.

Masorti - These Orthodox Jews should not be confused with the newer Masorti movement, which is the Israeli branch of Conservative Judaism. "Masorti" Israeli Jews are usually Jews from Arab countries who partly adhere to the Orthodox Sephardic Jewish religion. For example, they profess a belief in God, wear a Yarmulke and keep kosher, but they will travel on Shabbat to a football game.

 

Theology of Orthodox Judaism

All Orthodox Jewish denominations believe that the Torah (five books of Moses) was written by God and given to Moses along with the oral tradition of the Mishnah. They follow the Talmud and for the most part the Shulkhan Aruch either in its Sephardic or Ashkenazic form and practice strict adherence to the Halachah law as interpreted by their own rabbis. Most Orthodox groups have accepted the book of the Zohar as well. The creed of Maimonides sums up the detailed beliefs shared by most Orthodox Jewish groups. Some hold to beliefs and practices that were condemned or dismissed by Maimonides, such as beliefs in physical resurrection of soul, worship of "saints" and similar customs 

 

The Maimonides Creed

1. I believe absolutely that God is the Creator and Ruler of all things. He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.

2. I believe absolutely that God is One. There is no unity that is in any way like His. He alone is our God. He was, He is, and He will be.

3. I believe absolutely that God does not have a body. Physical concepts do not apply to Him. There is nothing whatsoever that resembles Him at all.

4. I believe absolutely that God is first and last.

5. I believe absolutely that it is only proper to pray to God. One may not pray to anyone or anything else.

6. I believe absolutely that all the words of the prophets are true.

7. I believe absolutely that the prophecy of Moses is absolutely true. He was the chief of all prophets, both before and after Him.

8. I believe absolutely that the entire Torah that we now have is that which was given to Moses.

9. I believe absolutely that this Torah will not be changed, and that there will never be another given by God.

10. I believe absolutely that God knows all of man's deeds and thoughts. It is thus written (Psalm 33:15), "He has molded every heart together, He understands what each one does."

11. I believe absolutely that God rewards those who keep His commandments, and punishes those who transgress Him.

12. I believe absolutely in the coming of the Messiah. Though he may tarry, I will await His coming every day.

13. I believe absolutely that the dead will be brought back to life when God wills it to happen.

Messiah in Orthodox Judaism

In the Orthodox Jewish faith the Messiah, like the faith, is national and not universal or personal. He will restore the Jewish people to their land, rebuild the temple and raise the dead, but he is evidently unrelated to absolution or personal "salvation." Other branches of Judaism and particularly Reform Judaism Judaism, apparently believe in a more universal and personal concept of Messiah.

Dress and appearance Orthodox Judaism

Orthodox Jewish communities, and particularly followers (Hassidim) of specific Ashkenazic rabbis often maintain an absolutely uniform outward appearance based on their interpretation of Halachah law with an arbitrary admixture of customs that are probably borrowed from their non-Jewish neighbors and frozen in time. Hungarian ultra-Orthodox sects may wear the fur hats of 17th century Hungarian noblemen. Married Orthodox women may wear styles associated with the 1950s or even the 1930s. The range of costumes and treatment of beard and ear locks  (peyot) is shown below for contemporary Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

 

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men Orthodox Jewish man Orthodox Jewish Lady Orthodox Jew
Orthodox Jewish Ashkenasi lady Orthodox Jewish Senator Lieberman Ultra-Orthodox Jew Arieh Deri

Orthodox Jewish Ashkenasi Chief Rabbi

Orthodox Jewish Sephardic Chief Rabbi
Orthodox Jewish woman Orthodox Jewish woman Ultra-Orthodox Jewish couplr Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men

 

Ami Isseroff

February 17, 2011


Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information: Judaism, Conservative JudaismReconstructionist Judaism, Reform Judaism, Humanistic Judaism Jewish Renewal


Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.


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Copyright

This work and individual entries are copyright 2005 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism and Israel Information Center and may not reproduced in any form without permission unless explicitly noted otherwise. Individual entries may be cited with credit to The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel

 

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