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Zohar

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22 min
History of Judaism
535 - 2022

History of Judaism

Words: Something Something



Judaism is an Abrahamic, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Some scholars argue that modern Judaism evolved from Yahwism, the religion of ancient Israel and Judah, by the late 6th century BCE, and is thus considered to be one of the oldest monotheistic religions. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Israelites, their ancestors. It encompasses a wide body of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization.


The Torah, as it is commonly understood by Jews, is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh. The Tanakh is also known to secular scholars of religion as the Hebrew Bible, and to Christians as the "Old Testament". The Torah's supplemental oral tradition is represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. The Hebrew word torah can mean "teaching", "law", or "instruction", although "Torah" can also be used as a general term that refers to any Jewish text that expands or elaborates on the original Five Books of Moses. Representing the core of the Jewish spiritual and religious tradition, the Torah is a term and a set of teachings that are explicitly self-positioned as encompassing at least seventy, and potentially infinite, facets and interpretations. Judaism's texts, traditions, and values strongly influenced later Abrahamic religions, including Christianity and Islam. Hebraism, like Hellenism, played a seminal role in the formation of Western civilization through its impact as a core background element of Early Christianity.



  Table of Contents / Timeline
-1813

Abraham

-1301

Moses

1290

Zohar


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Patriarchal period
Abraham's Journey from Ur to Canaan | ©József Molnár


CHAPTER   1

Patriarchal period

2000 BCE Jan 1 - 1700 BCE

Israel



Nomadic tribesmen (ancestors of Jews) migrate from Mesopotamia to settle the land of Canaan (later called Israel) where they formed a patriarchal society of tribal lineages. According to the Bible, this migration and settlement was based on a divine call and promise to Abraham—a promise of national blessing and bounty for Abraham and his descendents if they remain faithful to the One God (the first moment that God enters human history). With this call, the first covenant was established between God and the descendents of Abraham.


The most eminent of early biblical archaeologists was William F. Albright, who believed that he had identified the patriarchal age in the period 2100–1800 BC, the Intermediate Bronze Age, the interval between two periods of highly developed urban culture in ancient Canaan. Albright argued that he had found evidence of the sudden collapse of the previous Early Bronze Age culture, and ascribed this to the invasion of migratory pastoral nomads from the northeast whom he identified with the Amorites mentioned in Mesopotamian texts. According to Albright, Abraham was a wandering Amorite who migrated from the north into the central highlands of Canaan and the Negev with his flocks and followers as the Canaanite city-states collapsed. Albright, E. A. Speiser and Cyrus Gordon argued that although the texts described by the documentary hypothesis were written centuries after the patriarchal age, archaeology had shown that they were nevertheless an accurate reflection of the conditions of the 2nd millennium BC. According to John Bright "We can assert with full confidence that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were actual historical individuals."


Following Albright's death, his interpretation of the Patriarchal age came under increasing criticism: such dissatisfaction marked its culmination with the publication of The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives by Thomas L. Thompson and Abraham in History and Tradition by John van Seters. Thompson, a literary scholar, argued on the lack of compelling evidence that the patriarchs lived in the 2nd millennium BCE, and noted how certain biblical texts reflected first millennium conditions and concerns, while Van Seters examined the patriarchal stories and argued that their names, social milieu, and messages strongly suggested that they were Iron Age creations. Van Seter and Thompson's works were a paradigm shift in biblical scholarship and archaeology, which gradually led scholars to no longer consider the patriarchal narratives as historical. Some conservative scholars attempted to defend the Patriarchal narratives in the following years, but this position has not found acceptance among scholars.


By the beginning of the 21st century, archaeologists had given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac or Jacob credible historical figures.


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Abraham
The Angel Hinders the Offering of Isaac | ©Rembrandt


CHAPTER   2

Abraham

1813 BCE Jan 1

Ur of the Chaldees, Iraq



Abraham is born around 1813 BCE. According to the first five books of the Bible, God chooses Abraham to be the father of Isaac, the founder of the Jewish people. This people will be special to God, as well as an example of holiness to others around the world. Abraham leaves Ur and moves with his tribe and flocks towards Canaan. Abraham received revelation from god, and the idea of the promise land came into existence.


Most historians view the patriarchal age, along with the Exodus and the period of the biblical judges, as a late literary construct that does not relate to any particular historical era; and after a century of exhaustive archaeological investigation, no evidence has been found for a historical Abraham. It is largely concluded that the Torah was composed during the early Persian period (late-6th century BCE) as a result of tensions between Jewish landowners who had stayed in Judah during the Babylonian captivity and traced their right to the land through their "father Abraham", and the returning exiles who based their counterclaim on Moses and the Exodus tradition of the Israelites.


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The First Covenant
The Vision of the Lord Directing Abram to Count the Stars | © Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld


CHAPTER   3

The First Covenant

1713 BCE Jan 1

Israel



Thirteen years later, when Abram was 99 years of age, God declared Abram's new name: "Abraham" – "a father of many nations". Abraham then received the instructions for the covenant of the pieces, of which circumcision was to be the sign.


Abraham circumcises himself, and this act symbolizes the covenant between God and all his descendants. Under this covenant, God promises to make Abraham the father of a great nation, and to give his descendants the land that later becomes Israel. This is the basis for male circumcision in the Jewish faith.


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Moses
Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law by Rembrandt, 1659


CHAPTER   4

Moses

1301 BCE Jan 1

Egypt



Moses is considered the most important prophet in Judaism and one of the most important prophets in Christianity, Islam, the Druze faith, the Baháʼí Faith and other Abrahamic religions. According to both the Bible and the Quran, Moses was the leader of the Israelites and lawgiver to whom the authorship, or "acquisition from heaven", of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) is attributed.


Generally, Moses is seen as a legendary figure, whilst retaining the possibility that Moses or a Moses-like figure existed in the 13th century BCE. Rabbinical Judaism calculated a lifespan of Moses corresponding to 1391–1271 BCE; Jerome suggested 1592 BCE, and James Ussher suggested 1571 BCE as his birth year.


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The Torah


CHAPTER   5

The Torah

1000 BCE Jan 1

Israel



The Torah is the compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, namely the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. In that sense, Torah means the same as Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses. It is also known in the Jewish tradition as the Written Torah (תורה שבכתב, Torah She’bichtav). If meant for liturgic purposes, it takes the form of a Torah scroll (Sefer Torah). If in bound book form, it is called Chumash, and is usually printed with the rabbinic commentaries (perushim).


The Jews write down the Torah, the earliest part of the text subsequently known to Christians as the Old Testament.


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King Solomon constructs the First Temple
King Solomon dedicates the Temple at Jerusalem | ©James Tissot


CHAPTER   6

King Solomon constructs the First Temple

957 BCE Jan 1

Israel



Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple was the first Temple in Jerusalem, according to the Hebrew Bible. It was built during Solomon's reign over the United Kingdom of Israel and was fully constructed by c. 957 BCE. It stood for almost four centuries until its destruction in 587/586 BCE by the Neo-Babylonian Empire under the second Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II, who subsequently exiled the Judeans to Babylon following the fall of the Kingdom of Judah and its annexation as a Babylonian province. The destruction of the Temple and the Babylonian exile were seen as fulfillments of Biblical prophecies and consequently strengthened Judaic religious beliefs, beginning the Israelites' transition from the polytheistic or monolatristic beliefs of Yahwism to the monotheistic beliefs developed in Judaism.


This temple houses the Ark of the Covenant, a holy relic that contains the Ten Commandments. Several hundred years later, the temple is destroyed by the Babylonians.


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Jewish Diaspora
Assyrians | ©Angus McBride


CHAPTER   7

Jewish Diaspora

722 BCE Jan 1

Israel



The Assyrians conquer Israel and launch the Jewish diaspora(c. 722 BCE). Around 722 BCE, the Assyrians conquer the kingdom of Israel and force the ten tribes to resettle in other parts of the empire, according to Assyrian custom. The scattering of the tribes is the beginning of the Jewish diaspora, or living away from Israel, which characterizes much of Jewish history. Later the Babylonians relocate the Judeans, as well.


In 722 BCE, the Assyrians, under Sargon II, successor to Shalmaneser V, conquered the Kingdom of Israel, and many Israelites were deported to Mesopotamia. The Jewish proper diaspora began with the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BCE.


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Destruction of the First Temple
Chaldees destroy the Brazen Sea | ©James Tissot


CHAPTER   8

Destruction of the First Temple

586 BCE Jan 1

Jerusalem, Israel



According to the Bible, the Temple was plundered by King Nebuchadnezzar II of the Neo-Babylonian Empire when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem during the brief reign of Jehoiachin c. 598 BCE (2 Kings 24:13).


A decade later, Nebuchadnezzar again besieged Jerusalem and after 30 months finally breached the city walls in 587/6 BCE. The city finally fell to his army in July 586/7 BCE. A month later, Nebuzaradan, commander of Nebuchadnezzar's guard, was sent to burn and demolish the city. According to the Bible, "he set fire to the Temple of Yahweh, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem" (2 Kings 25:9). Everything worth plundering was then removed and taken to Babylon (2 Kings 25:13–17).


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Second Temple rebuilt
Rebuilding of the Temple | ©Gustave Doré


CHAPTER   9

Second Temple rebuilt

516 BCE Jan 1 - 70

Israel



The Second Temple, also known in its later years as Herod's Temple, was the reconstructed Jewish holy temple that stood on the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem between c. 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple (built at the same location during Solomon's reign over the United Kingdom of Israel) that had been destroyed in 587 BCE by the Neo-Babylonian Empire during its conquest of the Kingdom of Judah; the fallen Jewish kingdom was subsequently annexed as a Babylonian province and part of its populace was held captive in Babylon. The completion of the Second Temple in the new Achaemenid province of Yehud marked the beginning of the Second Temple period in Jewish history.


Second Temple Judaism is Judaism between the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, c. 515 BCE, and its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE. The development of the Hebrew Bible canon, the synagogue, Jewish apocalyptic expectations for the future, and the rise of Christianity can all be traced to the Second Temple period.



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CHAPTER   10

Torah is translated into Greek

250 BCE Jan 1

Alexandria, Egypt



The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint, is the earliest extant Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible. It includes several books beyond those contained in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible as canonically used in the tradition of mainstream Rabbinical Judaism. The additional books were composed in Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic, but in most cases, only the Greek version has survived to the present. It is the oldest and most important complete translation of the Hebrew Bible made by the Jews. Some targums translating or paraphrasing the Bible into Aramaic were also made around the same time.


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Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) is canonized


CHAPTER   11

Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) is canonized

200 BCE Jan 1

Israel



The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh is the canonical collection of Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a few passages in Biblical Aramaic (in the books of Daniel and Ezra, and the verse Jeremiah 10:11).


There is no scholarly consensus as to when the Hebrew Bible canon was fixed: some scholars argue that it was fixed by the Hasmonean dynasty, while others argue it was not fixed until the second century CE or even later.


According to Louis Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews, the twenty-four book canon of the Hebrew Bible was fixed by Ezra and the scribes in the Second Temple period.According to the Talmud, much of the Tanakh was compiled by the men of the Great Assembly (Anshei K'nesset HaGedolah), a task completed in 450 BCE, and it has remained unchanged ever since.


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Pharisees
Pharisees


CHAPTER   12

Pharisees

167 BCE Jan 1

Jerusalem, Israel



The Pharisees were a Jewish social movement and a school of thought in the Levant during the time of Second Temple Judaism. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic beliefs became the foundational, liturgical, and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism.


Conflicts between Pharisees and Sadducees took place in the context of much broader and longstanding social and religious conflicts among Jews, made worse by the Roman conquest. One conflict was cultural, between those who favored Hellenization (the Sadducees) and those who resisted it (the Pharisees). Another was juridical-religious, between those who emphasized the importance of the Temple with its rites and services, and those who emphasized the importance of other Mosaic Laws. A specifically religious point of conflict involved different interpretations of the Torah and how to apply it to current Jewish life, with Sadducees recognizing only the Written Torah (with Greek philosophy) and rejecting Prophets, Writings, and doctrines such as the Oral Torah and the resurrection of the dead.


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Sadducees
Sadducees


CHAPTER   13

Sadducees

167 BCE Jan 1 - 73

Jerusalem, Israel



The Sadducees (; Hebrew: צְדוּקִים, romanized: Ṣədūqīm) were a socio-religious sect of Jewish people who were active in Judea during the Second Temple period, from the second century BCE through the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. The Sadducees are often compared to other contemporaneous sects, including the Pharisees and the Essenes.


Josephus, writing at the end of the 1st century CE, associates the sect with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society. As a whole, they fulfilled various political, social, and religious roles, including maintaining the Temple in Jerusalem. The group became extinct some time after the destruction of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE.


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Karaite Judaism
Esther and Mordechai writing the second letters | ©Aert de Gelder


CHAPTER   14

Karaite Judaism

103 BCE Jan 1

Jerusalem, Israel



Karaite Judaism is a Jewish religious movement characterized by the recognition of the written Torah alone as its supreme authority in halakha (Jewish religious law) and theology. Karaites maintain that all of the divine commandments handed down to Moses by God were recorded in the written Torah without additional Oral Law or explanation. Karaite Judaism is distinct from mainstream Rabbinic Judaism, which considers the Oral Torah, codified in the Talmud and subsequent works, to be authoritative interpretations of the Torah. Consequently, Karaite Jews do not consider the written collections of the oral tradition in the Midrash or Talmud as binding.


When reading the Torah, Karaites strive to adhere to the plain or most obvious meaning (peshat) of the text; this is not necessarily the literal meaning, but rather the meaning that would have been naturally understood by the ancient Hebrews when the books of the Torah were first written - without the use of the Oral Torah. By contrast, Rabbinic Judaism relies on the legal rulings of the Sanhedrin as they are codified in the Midrash, Talmud, and other sources to indicate the authentic meaning of the Torah. Karaite Judaism holds every interpretation of the Torah to the same scrutiny regardless of its source, and teaches that it is the personal responsibility of every individual Jew to study the Torah, and ultimately decide personally its correct meaning. Karaites may consider arguments made in the Talmud and other works without exalting them above other viewpoints.


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Essenes
John the Baptist was possibly an Essene.[63]


CHAPTER   15

Essenes

100 BCE Jan 1 - 50

Israel



The Essenes were a mystic Jewish sect during the Second Temple period that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE.


Josephus later gave a detailed account of the Essenes in The Jewish War (c. 75 CE), with a shorter description in Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94 CE) and The Life of Flavius Josephus (c. 97 CE). Claiming firsthand knowledge, he lists the Essenoi as one of the three sects of Jewish philosophy alongside the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He relates the same information concerning piety, celibacy, the absence of personal property and of money, the belief in communality, and commitment to a strict observance of Sabbath. He further adds that the Essenes ritually immersed in water every morning –a practice similar to the use of the mikveh for daily immersion found among some contemporary Hasidim– ate together after prayer, devoted themselves to charity and benevolence, forbade the expression of anger, studied the books of the elders, preserved secrets, and were very mindful of the names of the angels kept in their sacred writings.


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Yeshiva
A Yeshiva boy reading | ©Alois Heinrich Priechenfried


CHAPTER   16

Yeshiva

70 BCE Jan 1

Israel



A yeshiva (; Hebrew: ישיבה, lit. 'sitting'; pl. ישיבות, yeshivot or yeshivos) is a traditional Jewish educational institution focused on the study of Rabbinic literature, primarily the Talmud and halacha (Jewish law), while Torah and Jewish philosophy are studied in parallel. The studying is usually done through daily shiurim (lectures or classes) as well as in study pairs called chavrusas (Aramaic for 'friendship' or 'companionship'). Chavrusa-style learning is one of the unique features of the yeshiva.


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Tannaim


CHAPTER   17

Tannaim

10 Jan 1 - 216

Jerusalem, Israel



Tannaim were the rabbinic sages whose views are recorded in the Mishnah, from approximately 10–220 CE. The period of the Tannaim, also referred to as the Mishnaic period, lasted about 210 years. It came after the period of the Zugot ("pairs"), and was immediately followed by the period of the Amoraim ("interpreters").


The root tanna (תנא‎) is the Talmudic Aramaic equivalent for the Hebrew root shanah (שנה‎), which also is the root-word of Mishnah. The verb shanah (שנה‎) literally means "to repeat [what one was taught]" and is used to mean "to learn".


The Mishnaic period is commonly divided up into five periods according to generations. There are approximately 120 known Tannaim. The Tannaim lived in several areas of the Land of Israel. The spiritual center of Judaism at that time was Jerusalem, but after the destruction of the city and the Second Temple, Yohanan ben Zakkai and his students founded a new religious center in Yavne. Other places of Judaic learning were founded by his students in Lod and in Bnei Brak.


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Mishnah
Talmudysci | ©Adolf Behrman


CHAPTER   18

Mishnah

200 Jan 1

Israel



The Mishnah or the Mishna is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions which is known as the Oral Torah. It is also the first major work of rabbinic literature. The Mishnah was redacted by Judah ha-Nasi at the beginning of the 3rd century CE in a time when, according to the Talmud, the persecution of the Jews and the passage of time raised the possibility that the details of the oral traditions of the Pharisees from the Second Temple period (516 BCE – 70 CE) would be forgotten. Most of the Mishnah is written in Mishnaic Hebrew, but some parts are in Aramaic.


The Mishnah consists of six orders (sedarim, singular seder סדר), each containing 7–12 tractates (masechtot, singular masechet מסכת; lit. "web"), 63 in total, and further subdivided into chapters and paragraphs. The word Mishnah can also indicate a single paragraph of the work, i.e. the smallest unit of structure in the Mishnah. For this reason the whole work is sometimes referred to in the plural form, Mishnayot.


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Hexapla
Origen with his disciples. Engraved by Jan Luyken, c. 1700


CHAPTER   19

Hexapla

245 Jan 1

Alexandria, Egypt



Hexapla (Ancient Greek: Ἑξαπλᾶ, "sixfold") is the term for a critical edition of the Hebrew Bible in six versions, four of them translated into Greek, preserved only in fragments. It was an immense and complex word-for-word comparison of the original Hebrew Scriptures with the Greek Septuagint translation and with other Greek translations. The term especially and generally applies to the edition of the Old Testament compiled by the theologian and scholar Origen, sometime before 240.


The purpose of compiling the Hexapla is disputed. Most likely, the book was intended for the Christian-rabbinic polemic regarding the corruption of the text of Scripture. The codex included the Hebrew text, its vowels in Greek transcription and at least four parallel Greek translations, including the Septuagint; in this respect, it is a prototype of the later polyglot. A number of sources say that for the Psalter there were two or three versions of the translation, as for some prophetic books. At the end of his life, Origen created an abbreviated version of his work - the Tetrapla, which included only four Greek translations (hence the name).


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Masoretes


CHAPTER   20

Masoretes

497 Jan 1

Palestine



The Masoretes (Hebrew: בעלי המסורה, romanized: Ba'alei ha-Masora) were groups of Jewish scribe-scholars who worked from around the end of the 5th through 10th centuries CE, based primarily in medieval Palestine (Jund Filastin) in the cities of Tiberias and Jerusalem, as well as in Iraq (Babylonia). Each group compiled a system of pronunciation and grammatical guides in the form of diacritical notes (niqqud) on the external form of the biblical text in an attempt to standardize the pronunciation, paragraph and verse divisions, and cantillation of the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) for the worldwide Jewish community.


The ben Asher family of Masoretes was largely responsible for the preservation and production of the Masoretic Text, although there existed an alternative Masoretic text of the ben Naphtali Masoretes, which has around 875 differences from the ben Asher text. The halakhic authority Maimonides endorsed the ben Asher as superior, although the Egyptian Jewish scholar, Saadya Gaon al-Fayyumi, had preferred the ben Naphtali system. It has been suggested that the ben Asher family and the majority of the Masoretes were Karaites. However, Geoffrey Khan believes that the ben Asher family was probably not Karaite, and Aron Dotan avers that there are "decisive proofs that M. Ben-Asher was not a Karaite.


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Maimondes's Thirteen principles of faith
Depiction of Maimonides teaching students about the 'measure of man' in an illuminated manuscript.


CHAPTER   21

Maimondes's Thirteen principles of faith

1200 Jan 1

Egypt



In his commentary on the Mishnah (tractate Sanhedrin, chapter 10), Maimonides formulates his "13 principles of faith"; and that these principles summarized what he viewed as the required beliefs of Judaism:


  1. The existence of God.
  2. God's unity and indivisibility into elements.
  3. God's spirituality and incorporeality.
  4. God's eternity.
  5. God alone should be the object of worship.
  6. Revelation through God's prophets.
  7. The preeminence of Moses among the prophets.
  8. That the entire Torah (both the Written and Oral law) are of Divine origin and were dictated to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai.
  9. The Torah given by Moses is permanent and will not be replaced or changed.
  10. God's awareness of all human actions and thoughts.
  11. Reward of righteousness and punishment of evil.
  12. The coming of the Jewish Messiah.
  13. The resurrection of the dead.


Maimonides is said to have compiled the principles from various Talmudic sources. These principles were controversial when first proposed, evoking criticism by Rabbis Hasdai Crescas and Joseph Albo, and were effectively ignored by much of the Jewish community for the next few centuries. However, these principles have become widely held and are considered to be the cardinal principles of faith for Orthodox Jews. Two poetic restatements of these principles (Ani Ma'amin and Yigdal) eventually became canonized in many editions of the Siddur (Jewish prayer book).


The principles can be seen listed in the Siddur Edot HaMizrach, Additions for Shacharit The omission of a list of these principles as such within his later works, the Mishneh Torah and The Guide for the Perplexed, has lead some to suggest that either he retracted his earlier position, or that these principles are descriptive rather than prescriptive.


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Zohar


CHAPTER   22

Zohar

1290 Jan 1

Spain



The Zohar is a foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. It is a group of books including commentary on the mystical aspects of the Torah (the five books of Moses) and scriptural interpretations as well as material on mysticism, mythical cosmogony, and mystical psychology. The Zohar contains discussions of the nature of God, the origin and structure of the universe, the nature of souls, redemption, the relationship of Ego to Darkness and "true self" to "The Light of God".


The Zohar was first publicized by Moses de León (c. 1240 – 1305), who claimed it was a Tannaitic work recording the teachings of Simeon ben Yochai. This claim is universally rejected by modern scholars, most of whom believe de León, also an infamous forger of Geonic material, wrote the book himself. Some scholars argue that the Zohar is the work of multiple medieval authors and/or contains a small amount of genuinely antique novel material.



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Sabbateans
Illustration of Sabbatai Tzvi from 1906 (Joods Historisch Museum)


CHAPTER   23

Sabbateans

1666 Jan 1

İstanbul, Turkey



The Sabbateans (or Sabbatians) were a variety of Jewish followers, disciples, and believers in Sabbatai Zevi (1626–1676), a Sephardic Jewish rabbi and Kabbalist who was proclaimed to be the Jewish Messiah in 1666 by Nathan of Gaza.


Vast numbers of Jews in the Jewish diaspora accepted his claims, even after he outwardly became an apostate due to his forced conversion to Islam in the same year. Sabbatai Zevi's followers, both during his proclaimed messiahship and after his forced conversion to Islam, are known as Sabbateans. Part of the Sabbateans lived on until well into 21st-century Turkey as descendants of the Dönmeh.


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Jewish Enlightenment
Moses Mendelssohn, German philosopher, reconciles Judaism and the Enlightenment


CHAPTER   24

Jewish Enlightenment

1729 Jan 1 - 1784

Europe



The Haskalah, often termed Jewish Enlightenment (Hebrew: השכלה; literally, "wisdom", "erudition" or "education"), was an intellectual movement among the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe, with certain influence on those in Western Europe and the Muslim world. It arose as a defined ideological worldview during the 1770s, and its last stage ended around 1881, with the rise of Jewish nationalism.


The Haskalah pursued two complementary aims. It sought to preserve the Jews as a separate, unique collective, and it pursued a set of projects of cultural and moral renewal, including a revival of Hebrew for use in secular life, which resulted in an increase in Hebrew found in print. Concurrently, it strove for an optimal integration in surrounding societies. Practitioners promoted the study of exogenous culture, style, and vernacular, and the adoption of modern values. At the same time, economic productivization was pursued. The Haskalah promoted rationalism, liberalism, freedom of thought, and enquiry, and is largely perceived as the Jewish variant of the general Age of Enlightenment. The movement encompassed a wide spectrum ranging from moderates, who hoped for maximal compromise, to radicals, who sought sweeping changes.


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CHAPTER   25

Hasidic Judaism

1740 Jan 1

Ukraine



Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer (c. 1698 – 22 May 1760), known as the Baal Shem Tov (Hebrew: בעל שם טוב, ) or as the Besht, was a Jewish mystic and healer from Poland who is regarded as the founder of Hasidic Judaism. "Besht" is the acronym for Baal Shem Tov, which means "One with the Good Name" or "one with a good reputation".


A central tenet in the Baal Shem Tov's teaching is the direct connection with the divine, "dvekut", which is infused in every human activity and every waking hour. Prayer is of supreme importance, along with the mystical significance of Hebrew letters and words. His innovation lies in "encouraging worshipers to follow their distracting thoughts to their roots in the divine". Those who follow his teachings regard him as descended from the Davidic line that traces its lineage to the royal house of David.


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Orthodox Judaism
Moses Sofer of Pressburg, considered the father of Orthodoxy in general and ultra-Orthodoxy in particular.


CHAPTER   26

Orthodox Judaism

1808 Jan 1

Germany



Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist and theologically conservative branches of contemporary Judaism. Theologically, it is chiefly defined by regarding the Torah, both Written and Oral, as revealed by God to Moses on Mount Sinai and faithfully transmitted ever since.


Orthodox Judaism therefore advocates a strict observance of Jewish law, or halakha, which is to be interpreted and determined exclusively according to traditional methods and in adherence to the continuum of received precedent through the ages. It regards the entire halakhic system as ultimately grounded in immutable revelation, and beyond external influence. Key practices are observing the Sabbath, eating kosher, and Torah study. Key doctrines include a future Messiah who will restore Jewish practice by building the temple in Jerusalem and gather all the Jews to Israel, belief in a future bodily resurrection of the dead, divine reward and punishment for the righteous and the sinners.


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Torah im Derech Eretz


CHAPTER   27

Torah im Derech Eretz

1851 Jan 1

Hamburg, Germany



Torah im Derech Eretz (Hebrew: תורה עם דרך ארץ – Torah with "the way of the land") is a phrase common in Rabbinic literature referring to various aspects of one's interaction with the wider world. It also refers to a philosophy of Orthodox Judaism articulated by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808–88), which formalizes a relationship between traditionally observant Judaism and the modern world. Some refer to the resultant mode of Orthodox Judaism as Neo-Orthodoxy.


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Reconstructionist Judaism
Mordecai Kaplan


CHAPTER   28

Reconstructionist Judaism

1920 Jan 1

New York, NY, USA



Reconstructionist Judaism is a Jewish movement that views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization rather than a religion, based on concepts developed by Mordecai Kaplan (1881–1983). The movement originated as a semi-organized stream within Conservative Judaism and developed from the late 1920s to 1940s, before it seceded in 1955 and established a rabbinical college in 1967. Reconstructionist Judaism is recognized by some scholars as one of the five streams of Judaism alongside Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Humanistic.



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Haredi Judaism
Haredi Jewish men during a Torah reading.


CHAPTER   29

Haredi Judaism

1973 Jan 1

Israel



Haredi Judaism (Hebrew: יהדות חֲרֵדִית Yahadut Ḥaredit, IPA: [ħaʁeˈdi]; also spelled Charedi in English; plural Haredim or Charedim) consists of groups within Orthodox Judaism that are characterized by their strict adherence to halakha (Jewish law) and traditions, in opposition to modern values and practices. Its members are usually referred to as ultra-Orthodox in English; however, the term "ultra-Orthodox" is considered pejorative by many of its adherents, who prefer terms like strictly Orthodox or Haredi. Haredi Jews regard themselves as the most religiously authentic group of Jews, although other movements of Judaism disagree.


Some scholars have suggested that Haredi Judaism is a reaction to societal changes, including political emancipation, the Haskalah movement derived from the Enlightenment, acculturation, secularization, religious reform in all its forms from mild to extreme, the rise of the Jewish national movements, etc. In contrast to Modern Orthodox Judaism, followers of Haredi Judaism segregate themselves from other parts of society to an extent. However, many Haredi communities encourage their young people to get a professional degree or establish a business. Furthermore, some Haredi groups, like Chabad-Lubavitch, encourage outreach to less observant and unaffiliated Jews and hilonim (secular Israeli Jews). Thus, professional and social relationships often form between Haredi and non-Haredi Jews, as well as between Haredi Jews and non-Jews.


Haredi communities are found primarily in Israel (12.9% of Israel's population), North America, and Western Europe. Their estimated global population numbers over 1.8 million, and, due to a virtual absence of interfaith marriage and a high birth rate, the Haredi population is growing rapidly. Their numbers have also been boosted since the 1970s by secular Jews adopting a Haredi lifestyle as part of the baal teshuva movement; however, this has been offset by those leaving.


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