Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jews and the Religion of Judaism

St. Peter's Cross, Part II.

Jesus said unto all, 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.' Luke 9:23

Where does the words Jew and Judaism come from? Many people, including some Jews, would be unable to answer that question. The word Jew is an abbreviated form of the name Judah, who was one of the 12 sons of Jacob and great-grandson of the Patriarch Abraham. Jews and Judaism are traditionally linked to the tribe of Judah, the lion, one of the twelve tribes of Israel whose ancestral lands surrounded the capital of Jerusalem. After the golden age of King David and King Solomon, the united kingdom of Israel collapsed into two separate kingdoms called Judea and Israel.

The tribe of Judah stayed true to the religion originally established by Moses, while the ten northern tribes of Israel reverted to paganism and were eventually destroyed and scattered by its enemies. The tribe of Judah, represented by the nation of Judea, managed to survive this onslaught. In time, however, they too were invaded and shipped off to the Babylonian Empire as slaves. Staying true to their religious roots, even in exile, they were finally allowed to resettle Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Most, if not all, Jews of today trace their blood lineage to the tribe of Judah and not to the lost ten tribes of Israel. The direct ancestry of Jews can be described as follows:

Adam -- Noah -- Shem -- Abraham -- Jacob -- Judah -- Jesus -- Modern Jews

Many observers still remain confused by the term Jew. Is it an ethnicity or a religious affiliation? Most scholars would say both. Anyone who follows the religion of Judaism is a Jew, just as any individual born of a Jewish mother is also called a Jew. One could have pure Scandinavian or African heritage and still be a Jew through conversion. Jews can also be Pagan, or even Satanic, as well as uncircumcised as long as their mother was of Jewish blood. In short, the word Jew has two definitions. It is both a religious and ethnic term that depends on how it is utilized.

With that in mind, it is difficult to generalize about what Jewish reality is actually about. Is it a religious or ethnically based outlook? The answer, quite simply, is both. This has been the bane for many Jews throughout the ages, mostly because some Jews have taken it upon themselves to propagate ideas that are antithetical to the religion of Judaism. Several Jews, none of whom were religious, have publicly advocated anti-Christian, and anti-Jewish, policies that have caused Gentile Christians to deceitfully blame all the Jews in retaliation. Such is the paradox, and danger, of the word Jew. A very hurtful joke among Gentiles has been that they are quite glad not to be God’s Chosen People- chosen to be spat upon and despised. For the purposes of simplicity, the words Jew and Jewish shall refer to those who adhere to the religion of Judaism. According to the Holy Bible, Jews are God’s Chosen People and subject to laws that others are not required to obey. These include circumcision, kosher food requirements, along with a host of other rules that have been followed by the descendants of Judah since the time of Moses. In all, there are 613 commandments to the religion of Judaism.

There is more to Jewish reality than just this however. Apparently, Jews are commanded by God to impose, one way or another, the Seven Laws of Noah upon the entire human race. Besides for Christianity, this is the one and only Jewish conspiracy of any real importance and the Roman Catholic Church supports it without hesitation. These seven laws, as dictated by God, are as follows:

Seven Universal Laws of God

I. You will not commit idolatry.
II. You will not murder.
III. You will not steal.
IV. You will not commit sexual perversion.
V. You will not commit blasphemy.
VI. You will not eat the flesh of a living animal.
VII. You will establish courts to enforce these laws.

Some contend that the religion of Judaism, as with Christianity, is a thing of the past and will, in time, fade away to become yet another historical footnote. Others, mainly Protestant Christians, are ecstatic about the massive intermarriage that is taking place between Jews and Gentiles and the slow, but steady conversion rate to Christianity that is also happening among American Jews. Those who have seen the statistics are supremely confident that, outside of Israel, most Jews will be Christian by the end of this century. Are the Jews on the road to extinction? Not exactly.

Right now there are three main denominations of Judaism. They are called Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism. The vast majority of intermarriage and conversion to Christianity is occurring in the Conservative and Reform communities, not in the Orthodox. What is most likely to happen is that Jewish reality, far from disappearing, will experience a revival that will turn many Jews towards the oldest and most authentic form of Judaism called Orthodoxy. This type of Judaism has long viewed both Conservative and Reform Judaism as blasphemy and heresy, just as devout Roman Catholics have often regarded Protestant Christianity in a similar manner. It should be remembered that Jesus was an Orthodox Jew. There was really no other actual form of Judaism at the time.

Many Jews will contend that Orthodoxy descends directly from Moses and his teachings, similar to the way Roman Catholicism comes straight from the actual Apostles and disciples of Rabbi Jesus. It is not so much that Orthodox Judaism deserves to survive is that it will survive, which is how the Church wants it. This isn’t a popularity contest. To both of them, Reform and Conservative Jews were, and are, heretics who are destined to either fall away from actual Judaism or be reconverted to the one true faith of Orthodox Judaism, which in fairness should simply be called Judaism. The ranks of Orthodoxy will grow in number both in Israel and in the United States due to conversion and the large number of children found in Orthodox families. Reform and Conservative Judaism will continue to dwindle away as the years go by.

Jewish reality will, in fact, become smaller and more Orthodox, but there will also emerge a new Jewish-Christian reality never seen before in history except during the days of the early Church. It is an astonishing phenomenon that will quite likely continue well into the next century. This is unlikely to be interrupted by any anti-Semitic backlash as was the case in Weimar Germany and Imperial Spain. The reason, of course, is that this time the Gentiles are peacefully welcoming, rather than violently demanding, Jewish conversion to Christianity. The tremendous amount of intermarriage is also helping to stabilize the situation. Assimilation was possible before, this time it is inevitable. At the same time, Orthodox Jewish reality, like the diamonds they specialize in, won’t be going away anytime soon. As the Bible states:

Only a few of you will be left among the

nations where the LORD will lead you.

- Deuteronomy 4:27

Basic Jewish reality bears an astonishing resemblance to what many would mistakenly call Christian reality. Those who know their history might well contend that for the past two thousand years this reality was often preached, but seldom practiced, except by the Jews themselves. Christian anti-Semitism, a menace that will hopefully go extinct very soon, has kept Christians from acting towards Jews as God has commanded. The commandments are very explicit about how to treat others and hopefully Christians will begin to obey them. This is not to say that all Jews at all times have obeyed them, but the nonviolent, peaceful actions of the vast majority of unarmed Jews throughout the centuries speak for themselves. Christians have been violent bullies towards the Jews for far too long and will hopefully begin to obey what many Jews consider to be the three most important commandments in the Bible. They are as follows:

Commandment: Scripture (Source)
Love of God: You shall love the LORD your God with
all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your
might. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Love of Neighbor: You shall love your neighbor as
yourself. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18)
Love of Stranger: You shall love the stranger as
yourself...I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:34)

Jewish reality, so often a source of pain, disappointment, despair and suffering is about to change. It has been changing since 1945. Hitler and the Nazis lost the war and, more importantly, they lost the debate about how to solve the Jewish ‘problem’. The problem was not with the Jews, it was with the Gentiles and their inability to act like their LORD and savior Rabbi Jesus did by forgiving them. As Jesus Himself said while suffering on the cross, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ Will Jewish reality survive acceptance and tolerance rather than persecution? Some contend that without the hatred and disdain of the Gentiles, Jews will assimilate rapidly and Judaism will fade away until there are none left to practice it. Others contend that history is simply returning to an age-old reality that the Jews were, and are destined to be, God’s chosen people and ‘a light unto the Gentiles’.

For you are a people holy to the LORD
your God; the LORD
your God has chosen
you out of all peoples on earth to be His
people, His treasured possession.

- Deuteronomy 7:6

In the future, as in the past, Jews will return to being a noble, honorable, dignified people rather than the cringing, pathetic stereotypes caused by centuries of Christian hatred and abuse. The return of the Jewish gentleman, respected throughout Gentile society, has just started and will continue indefinitely.