by Jason Robie... (webmaster)
"What's Judaism" is a surprisingly complicated question to answer! It turns out the actual definition, in the purest sense of the word, is simply the “religion of the Jewish people.” However, as you can imagine, there is a bit more to it than that. Heck, you are visiting a website that dedicates significant space to the very definition. In order to understand it more, let's dig back into the history a bit and see if we can make a little more sense of it.
If we agree that Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people throughout the 3,000 year Jewish history, you can safely assume that it has had its share of alterations and changes. In order to establish a baseline though, let's focus on the things that have not changed in that history.
First is the observance of the Sabbath on Saturdays. This is the weekly holy day and has not wavered since the beginning. There are also a handful of Jewish holidays that have stood the test of time. Some of those include Rosh Ha-Shanah; Yom Kippur; Passover; Sukkot; Shavuot and Tisha B'Av (a remembrance holiday), reverence for the Land of Israel, Jewish history and the Torah have also maintained their place as staples of the religion. Finally is the love for God, Israel, and the Jewish people.
Moving on to the variations, it would serve the seeker well to do a bit of research from the "30,000 foot" view. As with Christianity’s many tracks, there are various paths one could seek out in order to answer the question of “What's Judaism.” There are many varieties of Rabbinical Judaism today. For example, Ultra-orthodox and Hassidic, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform/Liberal, Reconstructionist, and Renewal are all "subsets" of Rabbinical Judaism.
But there were other, earlier as well as much earlier versions of Judaism, before the Rabbis’ times. I’ll discuss them in subsequent postings!
As you can see from just this "tip of the iceberg" exploration, there is a lot more to sift through in order to answer the question "What's Judaism." Many parts of the Jewish religion have changed and adjusted over the years while other things have stayed consistent.