Jewish Traditions Final

  1. Midrash
    • Process with multiple books, not a single text, from "seeking"
    • Assumptions: 1. Perfection of Tanakh/Hebrew Bible 2. Since all is perfect, any part can explain any other
    • Interprets Written Torah
    • Becomes increasingly popular
    • Both halakhah (law) and aggadic (everything else)
    • Creates a body of interpretation that's distinctly Jewish
    • Shirta, describing the usage of the word Elīm (Gods)
  2. "Parting of the Ways"
    • Split between Judaism and Christianity, gradual process
    • Begin referring to selves as "Christians," which wasn't used before
    • By 200 CE, Christianity dominated by non-Jewish adherents
    • Constantine declares Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in 330 CE, propels religious system
    • Serves as a boundary marking and creates a context for the expression of Jewishness
  3. Andalusia
    • Medieval Muslim Spain (Southern) = location
    • Context for the development of Sephardic traditions
    • Creates separate political realm, and Jewish culture was able to grow and flourish, a Golden Age of Muslim-Jewish interaction
    • Very different context from Central/Northern Europe with Christianity, with more positive interactions with the larger culture
    • Lasted until the Christians came South (Spanish Inquisition) which pushed out Jews
  4. Maimonides
    • Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon/Rambam (names indicate duality within history and Jewish tradition)
    • Faith vs. Reason: faith (Judaism) is religion
    • Originally from Fez, settled in Ciaro and was a physician, philosopher, Rabbi, leader of Egyptian Jewish community
    • Commentary on Mishnah, Mishneh Torah, Guide of the Perplexed, Thirteen Principles
    • Mitzvot based on rational benefits (or, at least, that was the belief)
  5. The Guide of the Perplexed
    • Writing by Maimonides
    • Many of the same things that apply to Maimonides could be mentioned here
    • "Parable of the Habitation": answer to how faith and reason can work together.  Story about the ruler and palace as a metaphor for closeness to God.  Note to student asking about it
    • Again, talks about how the Commandments can be rationalized
  6. Kabbalah
    • means "tradition" and is the largest example of Jewish mysticism
    • mysticism: religious belief lies in experience, not just rational; unite with God through experience
    • Came out of Southern France, where majority = Christian
    • Sefirot and Zohar
    • Lurianic: Contraction, shattered esseld with focus on repairing God, gives empowerment
  7. Sefirot
    • Divine emanations of God (in Kabbalah)
    • Very gendered and sexual imagery with names (Keter, Binah, Hokhmah, Gefurah, Hesed, Tif'eret, Hod, Netsah, Yesod, and Malkhut)
    • Sometimes referred to as the Tree of Life
    • Left-female, right- male
    • Sexual: reunite feminine (on earth) with God
    • all composed of one substance, Ein Sof (addresses polytheism)
  8. The Zohar
    • Sefer ha-Zohar ("The Book of Splendor")
    • Presents itself as very ancient Midrash
    • Supposed to take place in 2nd century, but clearly (from bad Aramaic) written later
    • Stories about inner workings of God and exodus of Israelites= Shekhinah's movement away from the other Sefirot
    • Studying Torah reunites the broken parts of God
  9. Tikkun
    • Part of Lurianic Kabbalah
    • Idea to repair the world
    • Shattered Vessels: During creation, God contracted and energy was supposed to pour into vessels, but they shattered and were strewn about with a shell.  Prayer releases the energy back to Earth
    • Contraction: Creates difference between God and humans during creation
    • when Tikkun is completed, the Messiah will be released and reveal himself
  10. Hasidism
    • Not referring to ultra-orthodox group, but a group of people as a result of mysticism
    • Elements: religious enthusiasm > traditional rabbinic curriculum, anyone can achieve closeness to God, devekut: how you achieve closeness to God, Rebbe/Tzadik: Rebbe=rabbi, lead you in devekut, spiritual growth; Tzadik=dynastic position, born into it and have it or don't.  
    • Controversial for placing less importance on rabbis/and is new age; tzadik.  Mitnagdim=opposers
  11. Baal Shem Tov/Besht
    • Most important Baalei Shem: "Masters of the Name" who tap into divine power--turns into a part of hasidism
    • Wanted to use power to affect people in Israel and help
    • Emphasized that a Jewish person didn't need to be a scholar to be pious: joy and excitement
    • Didn't found Hasidism, but played a major role
    • (see all for Hasidism)
  12. Diaspora/Galut
    • Living in exile/out of homeland: important context for Jewishness
    • Leads to Zionism
    • Response: creation of Jewish spaces
    • Eruv, Synagogue (see later), Bayit=house/home
    • From one home to many homes
  13. Synagogue
    • Performance space
    • Around 300 CE in Egypt, where people could come toether to eat
    • Bimah: Raised platform, rabbi would lead/read Torah, originally in center but moved later
    • Aron Kodesh/Ark: Where Torah scroll is stored, originally mobile
    • Mechitzah: divider separating women and men, not seen in oldest.  Perishable?
    • Use term "temple" to emphasize connection
    • What happens there gives it meaning
    • Proximity to Torah scroll: especially gives meaning
  14. Eruv
    • Creates virtual Jewish "house" for things like Shabbat, an extension of the home
    • Can just be strings and poles
    • Allows people to carry/do work that would be limited outside of the home
    • Makes meaning/a boundary for territory, allows for multiple maps
    • Seen and unseen
  15. Brit Milah/Circumcision
    • Removal of the foreskin
    • Supposed to happen 8 days after the birth of a baby
    • Various reasons: Male health (PHilo), weakening sex drive (Maimonides), a type of sacrifice (Nachmanides)
    • Not a requirement for Jewishness, but serves as a sign of the covenant and fertility gained through this covenant for years to come
    • but, not a very good boundary marker; not distinctive or visible
  16. Kashrut
    • Generally used to refer to dietary laws, but actually diverse set of legislation in the Hebrew Bible/Rabbinic texts--applied to food through Rabbinic tradition
    • Simplified: fruits and vegetables, mammals must have cloven feet and "chew the cud", marine animals must have fins and scales, only butchered animals slaughtered according to ritual specifications and without blood.  No mixing milk and dairy
    • Various reasoning: health, ties to religion, etc. 
    • Serves as boundary marker: not hidden, different lifestyle, determines who you can interact with.
  17. Shabbat
    • A "palace in time"
    • Ritual: prayer service, candle lighting, more pure, synagogue to hear Torah reading
    • Abstain from work: doing things differently.  Can't light fire, carry, drive, etc.
    • Powerful boundary marker, commanded two times in the Hebrew Bible
    • Eruv again
  18. Festivals/Hagim
    • Major: Passover(exodus from Egypt), Shavuot (Reception of 10 Commandments at Mt. Sinai), Sukkot (make booth--wandering), Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year: agricultural, only from medieval), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
    • Minor: Purim (Story of Esther), Hanukkah (rededication of Temple by Hasmoneans), Lag b'Omer (bonfires, mourning between Passover and Shavuot), Tisha b'Av (Commemorates destruction of temples), Tu b'Shevat (new year for trees)
    • Boundary marker, creates a boundary of time
    • Celebrations important and each come along with rituals
  19. Cultural Memory
    • A way that a group tells its past to itself and becomes new in meaning over time
    • Passover and seder: participate and relive the experience.  Links people to those events
    • All about identity construction, who you are.  Jewish people come out of the time of the exodus
    • Talk about the PAST, not history.  NOT archaeologically supported, but this doesn't matter.  It's about how it has been retold and relived over time.
  20. Jewish Life Cycle
    • Creates a very Jewish meaning out of time and life events
    • Specific for birth, naming, education (intro, Bar/Bat Mitzvah), marriage (Kiddushin, Nesuin) Death (3 stages of mourning-- shiva, sheloshim, Yahrtzeit--family changes status)
    • Make statement about religious future, with a push into the future
    • Few compared to other religions, because it's more focused on the success of a group as a whole.  More traditions develop with more focus on individuality and free will.
  21. Jewish emancipation
    • For the most part in Europe, had been living separately in communities
    • Mendelssohn argues for emancipation, that they were Germans who happened to be Jewish instead of Jewish people living in Germany, so they were given full rights at the cost of legal autonomy as a community
    • Along with this came push for assimilation
    • Term comes from legal language, a process occurring in Europe beginning in the late 18th century
    • Being Jewish is more than just a religion.  Essence/identity that links people
  22. Reform Movement
    • Began in Germany in the 19th century, along with the development of scholarship and information that's difficult to process
    • Judaism's package has changed depending on context and should be changed to fit modern ideals and contexts, since it's just a religion
    • Made more palatable: German sermons, choral singing, organ (didn't last long)
    • Abraham Geiger gave coherent ideology, emphasizing how it was a different place when Mishnah and Talmud were written, products of their own time (don't apply anymore)
  23. Orthodox Movement
    • No Orthodox without Reform Judaism, response that halakhah isn't historically contingent
    • R. Samson Raphael Hirsch: revelation trumps reason, but can still live in modern world and participate in society
    • Comes along with emancipation
  24. Zionism
    • Establishment of Jewish homeland, based on very old idea that Jews make up a nation--why assimilation has failed
    • Can be in different forms
    • Political: Herzl: Facts on ground, particular place and settlement there
    • Cultural: State can exist, but not necessarily in same space.  Should emphasize homeland--without a shared culture, the state won't survive
    • Practical: No unified leader, most implications
  25. Siddur
    • Prayer book with prayers gathered together, which are spread out based on offerings in the Torah.  
    • Three throughout the day
    • First know of existence/organization during first 2 centuries CE. Babylonian exile, living without the Temple for the first time
    • Anceint rabbis decided what to include/add, but add/remove depending upon context, like Kabbalat Shabbat
    • At some points, vernacular prayer instead of Hebrew/Aramaic.  
    • Microcosm for a lot of what we've talked about this semester for Judaism as a whole
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Jewish Traditions Final
Terms for the Jewish Traditions Final Exam