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Judaism (from the Greek Ioudaïsmos, derived from the Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah") is the religion of the Jewish people, based on the principles and ethics embodied in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), as further explored and explained in the Talmud. Judaism is among the oldest religious traditions still practiced today and is considered one of the world's first monotheistic faiths. At the core of Judaism is the belief in a single, omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God, who created the universe and continues to govern it. In 2007, the world Jewish population was estimated to be 13.2 million people—41 percent in Israel and the other 59 percent in the diaspora. The traditional criterion for membership in Judaism or the Jewish people has been being born to a Jewish mother or taking the path of conversion.
Jewish tradition maintains that the history of Judaism begins with the Covenant between God and Abraham (c. 1800 BCE), the patriarch and progenitor of the Jewish people. According to the traditional Jewish belief, God also created another covenant with the Israelites (the ancestors of the Jewish people), and revealed his laws and commandments (Mitzvot) to them on Mount Sinai in the form of the Written Torah. Traditional Judaism also maintains that an Oral Torah was revealed at the same time and, after being passed down verbally for generations, was later transcribed in the Talmud. Laws, traditions, and learned Rabbis who interpret these texts and their numerous commentaries comprise the modern authority on Jewish tradition. While each Jew's level of observance varies greatly, the traditional practice of Judaism revolves around the study and observance of God's Mitzvot.
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Night is a work by Elie Wiesel (pictured) about his experience with his father in the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945. In just over 100 pages of a narrative described as devastating in its simplicity, Wiesel writes about the death of God and his own increasing disgust with humanity, reflected in the inversion of the father-child relationship as his father declines to a helpless state and Wiesel becomes his resentful caregiver. He was 16 years old when Buchenwald was liberated by the U.S. Army in April 1945, too late for his father who died in the camp after a beating. After some difficulty finding a publisher, Wiesel's work appeared in Yiddish in 1955 and French in 1958, and in September 1960 was published in English by Hill and Wang. Fifty years later it is regarded as one of the bedrocks of Holocaust literature. It is the first book in a trilogy—Night, Dawn, Day—marking Wiesel's transition from darkness to light, according to the Jewish tradition of beginning a new day at nightfall. "In Night," he said, "I wanted to show the end, the finality of the event. Everything came to an end—man, history, literature, religion, God. There was nothing left. And yet we begin again with night." (Read more...)
||Those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart, don't know how to laugh either.
The Weekly Torah portion in synagogues on Shabbat, Saturday, 6 Adar II, 5774; March 8, 2014
"Thus the priest shall make expiation for him, and he shall be forgiven." (Leviticus 4:31.)
God called to Moses from the Tabernacle and told him the laws of the sacrifices.
- Burnt offerings could be bulls, rams or male goats, or turtle doves or pigeons, which the priest burned completely on wood on the altar.
- Meal offerings were of choice flour with oil, from which priest would remove a token portion to burn on the altar, and the remainder the priests could eat. Meal offerings could not contain leaven or honey, and had to be seasoned with salt. Meal offerings of first fruits had to be new ears parched with fire, grits of the fresh grain.
- Sacrifices of well-being could be male or a female cattle, sheep, or goats, from which the priest would dash the blood on the sides of the altar and burn the fat around the entrails, the kidneys, and the protuberance on the liver on the altar.
- Sin offerings for unwitting sin by the High Priest or the community required sacrificing a bull, sprinkling its blood in the Tent of Meeting, burning on the altar the fat around the entrails, the kidneys, and the protuberance on the liver, and burning the rest of the bull on an ash heap outside the camp. Guilt offerings for unwitting sin by a chieftain required sacrificing a male goat, putting some of its blood on the horns of the altar, and burning its fat. Guilt offerings for unwitting sin by a lay person required sacrificing a female goat, putting some of its blood on the horns of the altar, and burning its fat.
- Sin offerings were required for cases when a person:
- was able to testify but did not give information,
- touched any unclean thing,
- touched human uncleanness, or
- uttered an oath and forgot.
- In such cases, the person had to confess and sacrifice a female sheep or goat; or if he could not afford a sheep, two turtledoves or two pigeons; or if he could not afford the birds, choice flour without oil.
- Guilt offerings were required when a person was unwittingly remiss about any sacred thing. In such cases, the person had to sacrifice a ram and make restitution plus 20 percent to the priest. Similarly, guilt offerings were required when a person dealt deceitfully in the matter of a deposit or a pledge, through robbery, by fraud, or by finding something lost and lying about it. In such cases, the person had to sacrifice a ram and make restitution plus 20 percent to the victim.
Hebrew and English Text
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Commentary from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University (Conservative)
Commentary from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Conservative)
Commentary by the Conservative Yeshiva
Commentary by the Union for Reform Judaism (Reform)
Commentaries from Project Genesis (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Chabad.org (Orthodox)
Commentaries from Aish HaTorah (Orthodox)
Commentaries from the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (Reconstructionist)
Commentaries from My Jewish Learning (trans-denominational)