Posted by ayrity on January 11, 2005, at 11:29:54
In reply to Re: The Jewish Faith? anyone or » ayrity, posted by Angel Girl on January 10, 2005, at 4:29:49
Well, as I said, I'm highly unqualified to answer your questions, but I'll do the best I can. (See below):
> 1. You say that you believe in Heaven but not Hell. Is it the Jewish belief that all Jews will go to Heaven?
Again, Judaism is vague and not dogmatic about the afterlife, preferring to focus on the living rather than the dead. In general, it is the Jewish belief that EVERYONE who is repentent and has tried to live a just life has a share in the afterlife, not just Jews. This is where Judaism and Christianity difer. You do not have to be Jewish to achieve "salvation" or a share in the world to come. Please see this website for an excellent explanation; http://www.jewfaq.org/olamhaba.htm
> 2. You say that you use basically the same Old Testament, but do not include "apocryphal texts". Can you please explain what *apocryphal texts* means? (Something tells me I'm going to be very embarrassed to hear the answer to this question).
The apocrypha would include books such as Macabees, Tobit, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiaticus (not to be confused with Ecclesiastes), and many others. They were either considered to overlap with other texts or deemed not worthy for various reasons to be included in the Tanakh (Jewish Bible). However, many are still used (Macabees, for example, which gives us the Chanukah story); they are just not deemed to be on the same level as other texts.
> 3. With your Bible being in Hebrew, and I think I understand your sermons to be in Hebrew as well, does this mean that all Jewish people speak and understand the Hebrew language? I'm referring partially about Jewish families that have settled here and have children born in this country. Are they taught Hebrew? And what about those who convert from another faith to that of the Jewish faith? Are they taught Hebrew? If not, I wonder how they are to get much from the religious ceremony or the Bible used?
Sermons, even for the Orthdox, are not usually in Hebrew but in the vernacular language (English, etc.). This is for the benefit of those who do not understand enough Hebrew to follow. The prayer service in Conservative and Orthodox congregations is conducted in Hebrew; it would be dificult for someone unfamilar with Hebrew or the prayers to follow along, although many prayerbooks have English translations and the Rabbi usually announces where everyone is in the reading from time to time for those having trouble keeping up. Reform services are generally in English with more or less Hebrew depending on the location. Most Jews learn at least some degree of Hebrew as part of their religious education; this involves learning to read the prayer book and a basic understanding of the important prayers in Hebrew. However, not all Jews (including myself) are conversant in Hebrew. As far as conversion- I think that the person converting generally would be required to have a basic knowledge of Hebrew (alphabet, basic prayers) but not necessarily be able to speak the language.
> 4. If apocryphal texts can be considered Jewish texts, why would they not be considered part of the Jewish canon?
See my comments above. Some are still studied for their insights and historical content, but are considered lessor texts for many reasons.
> 5. Why is Jesus Christ not believed to be the Messiah?
For the very fact that everthing that is supposed to have happened when the Messiah comes did not happen- Jews are still scattered around the world, the Temple has not been rebuilt, the dead have not been resurrected, the world is not at peace, etc. All of these things are supposed to happen when the Messiah comes, and have not yet occurred, therefore Jesus could not have been the Messiah according to Jewish belief.
Again, see http://www.jewfaq.org/moshiach.htm for an excellent discussion.
> 6. If you do not believe in evil and that Satan does not act outside the will of God, then how do you account for the bad things that happen ie: murders, etc. Are they the will of God? What purpose could they serve?
Judaism doesn't offer simple explanations about good and evil. Jews believe that G-d is all powerful and all encompassing- the notion of bad things happening outside the will of G-d is simply not compatible with Jewish thought. And, the notion of a Satan who is the embodiment of evil and acts indepently from G-d is not compatible with Judaism's strict definition of monotheism. Basically, we can't understand G-d's reasons for everything, though we can question him (a cherished and basic Jewish notion). We can't always understand why bad things happen- it is the will of G-d for reasons we cannot always fathom.
> Thanks once again for your very informative answers.
My pleasure. Check out the website I mentioned above, http://www.jewfaq.org/index.htm. Many excellent answers to be found there.