What is Judaism???
Intro to Judaism
So many people have entered Daniel's website and, thank G-d, they are taking the words of the autistic people very seriously and realize that there is more to Judaism than "just tradition" as they learned from their own parents and ancestors, but they don't understand beyond "tradition". So we put together this chapter to give an introduction to Judaism - the REAL Judaism which is so much more than just tradition.
Tradition could be eating hotdogs on Sundays, but Judaism is law, history, a way of life and our purpose as well as tradition.
Hashem created this world for us, the Jewish people, in order to bring us, the Jewish souls to a certain state of perfection and completeness, where we are truly One with Hashem, the King of the World, although we don't yet have a deep understanding of this completeness that we are supposed to achieve. What we do know is that Hashem gave us the Torah, which contains all the laws and history of the Jewish people and the other nations, to Moshe Rabenu and he handed it down as you will see below, to the other leaders throughout the generations of the Jewish people.
From generation to generation, because the world changes and becomes more modern, etc. there is a constant need to further explain the original Torah.
For example: It says in the Torah that on Shabbos one must not do "melacha" - work. However, in that generation of the Torah and the Jews in the dessert, etc., there was not yet such a thing as electricity or paper. So how do we know that we must not use (turn on or off) electricity on Shabbos or tear paper? This is why Hashem wrote *(1) in the Book Deuteronomy - Devarim, that the Jews must listen to their 'Judges' - in other words, the Rabbis. The Great Rabbis of each generation spent their entire lives studying the Torah and know how to interpret it according to the times we live in, from generation to generation.
Take a look at this part below, taken from the introduction to Maimonides' book, "Mishneh Torah". You will get a better idea of how the Torah was passed on from Moshe Rabenu all the way to the holy Rabbis of each generation.
By "Rabbis" I am certainly not referring to the reform Rabbis and conservative Rabbis. Non- orthodox Judaism began around 200 years ago, started by the Haskalah movement in Europe, who changed the laws of the Jews in order to 'fit in' better with the gentile nations and not be different, which is ridiculous because the whole essence of Judaism is that we ARE different [Leviticus, 18;3 - you shall not follow their ways…], who made their own decisions of what the Torah means, and their decisions go completely against those written by the righteous Rabbis who wrote the Gemara [see 39 below]* and the Shulchan Aruch, for example, which is a clear book of laws…
From the Introduction to Maimonides' "Mishneh Torah" (Complete Restatement of the Oral Law) :
1 All the commandments that were given to Moshe at Sinai were given together with their interpretation, as it is written "and I will give thee the Tables of Stone, and the Law, and the Commandment" (Exodus 24,12). "Law" is the Written Law; and "Commandment" is its interpretation: We were commanded to fulfill the Law, according to the Commandment. And this Commandment is what is called the Oral Law.
2 The whole of the Law was written down by Moshe Our Teacher before his death, in his own hand. He gave a scroll of the Law to each tribe; and he put another scroll in the Ark for a witness, as it is written "take this book of the Law, and put it by the side of the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee" (Deuteronomy 31,26).
3 But the Commandment, which is the interpretation of the Law--he did not write it down, but gave orders concerning it to the elders, to Yehoshua, and to all the rest of Israel, as it is written "all this word which I command you, that shall ye observe to do . . ." (Deuteronomy 13,1). For this reason, it is called the Oral Law.
4 Although the Oral Law was not written down, Moshe Our Teacher taught all of it in his court to the seventy elders; and El`azar, Pinehas, and Yehoshua, all three received it from Moshe. And to his student Yehoshua, Moshe Our Teacher passed on the Oral Law and ordered him concerning it. And so Yehoshua throughout his life taught it orally.
5 Many elders received it from Yehoshua, and Eli received it from the elders and from Pinehas; Shemuel received it from Eli and his court, and David received it from Shemuel and his court. Ahiyah the Shilonite was among those who had come out of Egypt, and was a Levite, and had heard it from Moshe, but was a child in Moshe's time; and he received it from David and his court.
6 Eliyahu received it from Ahiyah the Shilonite and his court, Elisha received it from Eliyahu and his court, Yehoyada the Priest received it from Elisha and his court, Zecharyahu received it from Yehoyada and his court, Hoshea received it from Zecharyah and his court, Amos received it from Hoshea and his court, Yeshayahu received it from Amos and his court, Michah received it from Yeshayah and his court, Yoel received it from Michah and his court, Nahum received it from Yoel and his court, Havaqquq received it from Nahum and his court, Tsefanyah received it from Havaqquq and his court, Yirmiyah received it from Tsefanyah and his court, Baruch son of Neriyah received it from Yirmiyah and his court, and Ezra and his court received it from Baruch and his court…
11 Rabban Gamliel the Elder received it from his father Rabban Shim`on, son of Hillel; his son Rabban Shim`on received it from him, his son Rabban Gamliel received it from him, and his son Rabban Shim`on received it from him. Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabban Shim`on is called Our Holy Teacher, and he received it from his father, and from Rabbi El`azar son of Shammua and from Rabbi Shim`on his colleague.
12 Our Holy Teacher wrote the Mishnah. From the time of Moshe to Our Holy Teacher, no one had written a work from which the Oral Law was publicly taught. Rather, in each generation, the head of the then existing court or the prophet of the time wrote down for his private use notes on the traditions he had heard from his teachers, and he taught in public from memory.
13 So too, everyone wrote down according to his ability parts of the explanation of the Torah and of its laws he heard, as well as the new matters that developed in each generation, which had not been received by oral tradition, but had been deduced by applying the Thirteen Principles for Interpreting the Torah, and had been agreed upon by the Great Rabbinical Court. Such had always been done, until the time of Our Holy Teacher.
14 He gathered together all the traditions, all the enactments, and all the explanations and interpretations that had been heard from Moshe Our Teacher or had been deduced by the courts of all the generations in all matters of the Torah; and he wrote the Book of the Mishnah from all of them. And he taught it in public, and it became known to all Israel; everyone wrote it down and taught it everywhere, so that the Oral Law would not be forgotten by Israel…
18 Rav wrote the Sifra and the Sifre to explain and expound the principles of the Mishnah, and Rabbi Hiyya wrote the Tosefta to explain the matters of the Mishnah. So too, Rabbi Hoshaya and bar Qappara wrote alternative oral traditions to explain the text of the Mishnah. Rabbi Yohanan wrote the Jerusalem Talmud in the Land of Israel about three hundred years after the destruction of the Temple.
19 Among the greatest Torah scholars who received from Rav and Shemuel were Rav Huna, Rav Yehudah, Rav Nahman, and Rav Kahana; and among the greatest Torah scholars who received from Rabbi Yohanan were Rabbah grandson of Hanah, Rabbi Ame, Rabbi Ase, Rav Dime, and Rabbon.
20 Among the Torah scholars who received from Rav Huna and Rav Yehudah were Rabbah and Rav Yosef. And among the Torah scholars who received from Rabbah and Rav Yosef were Abaye and Rava; both of them received from Rav Nahman as well. And among the Torah scholars who received from Rava were Rav Ashe and Ravina; and Mar son of Rav Ashe received from his father and from Ravina…
25 From them are also found the restrictive legislations enacted by the Torah scholars and prophets in each generation, to serve as a protecting fence around the Law as learned from Moshe in the interpretation of "ye shall keep my preventive measure" (Leviticus 18,30), which said take preventive measures to preserve my preventive measure.
26 From them are found as well the customs and affirmative legislations that were enacted or brought into use during the various generations as the court of each generation saw fit. *(1) For it is forbidden to deviate from them, as it is written "thou shalt not turn aside from whatever they shall declare unto thee, neither to the right hand nor to the left" (see Deuteronomy 17,11).
27 So too [from them are found] extraordinary interpretative judgments and rules that were not received from Moshe, but that the Great Rabbinical Court of its generation deduced by applying the Principles for Interpreting the Torah and the Elders judged to be appropriate, and decided that such shall be the Law. All of this, from the time of Moshe to his own time, Rav Ashe wrote in the Talmud.
28 The Mishnah scholars wrote other works to interpret the words of the Torah: Rabbi Hoshayah, a student of Our Holy Teacher, wrote an explanation of the Book of Genesis. Rabbi Yishmael wrote a commentary [on the Biblical text] from the beginning of the book of Exodus to the end of the Torah, which is called the Mechilta; and Rabbi Aqivah also wrote a Mechilta. Other Torah scholars later wrote collections of sermonic materials on the Bible. All these were written before the Babylonian Talmud.
29 Ravina and Rav Ashe and their colleagues were thus the last of the great Torah scholars of Israel who wrote down the Oral Law, enacted restrictive legislations, enacted affirmative legislations, and enacted binding customs; and their legislations and customs gained universal acceptance among the people of Israel in all of the places where they settled.
30 After the court of Rav Ashe, who wrote the Talmud in the time of his son and completed it, the people of Israel scattered throughout all the nations most exceedingly and reached the most remote parts and distant isles, armed struggle became prevalent in the World, and the public ways became clogged with armies. The study of the Torah declined, and the people of Israel ceased to gather in places of study in their thousands and tens of thousands as before…
33 So a town's residents are not forced to observe the customs of another town, nor is one court told to enact the restrictive legislations of another court in its town. So too, if one of the Geonim understood that the correct way of the Law was such and such, and it became clear to another court afterwards that this was not the correct way of the Law written in the Talmud, the earlier court is not to be obeyed, but rather what seems more correct, whether earlier or later.
34 These matters apply to rulings, enactments, and customs that arose after the Talmud had been written. But whatever is in the Babylonian Talmud is binding on all of the people of Israel; and every city and town is forced to observe all the customs observed by the Talmud's scholars and to enact their restrictive legislations and to observe their positive legislations.
35 For all those matters in the Talmud received the assent of all of Israel, and those sages who enacted the positive and negative legislations, enacted binding customs, ruled the rulings, and found that a certain understanding of the Law was correct constituted all of Israel's Torah scholars, or most of them, and it was they who received the traditions of the Oral Law concerning the fundamentals of the whole Law in unbroken succession back to Moshe Our Teacher.
36 All the Torah scholars who arose after the writing of the Talmud, studied it deeply, and became famous for their wisdom are those called the Geonim. All those Geonim who arose in the Land of Israel, the Land of Babylon, Spain, and France taught the way of the Talmud, clarified its obscurities, and explained its various topics, for its way is exceedingly profound. And further, it is written in Aramaic mixed with other languages: for that language had been clear to all in Babylon, at the time when it was written; but in other places as well as in Babylon in the time of the Geonim, no one understood that language, until he was taught it.
37 Many questions were asked of each Gaon of the time by the people of various cities, to comment on difficult matters in the Talmud, and they answered according to their wisdom; those who had asked the questions collected the answers, and made them into books for study.
38 The Geonim in every generation also wrote works to explain the Talmud: Some of them commented on a few particular laws, some of them commented on particular chapters that presented difficulties in their time, and some of them commented on Tractates or Orders.
* 39 They also wrote collections of settled laws as to what is forbidden and permitted, liable and exempt, according to the needs of the time, so that they could be easily learned by one who is not able to fathom the depths of the Talmud. That is the work of the LORD that all the Geonim of Israel did, from the time the Talmud was written to the present day, which is 1108 years from Destruction of the Temple [which is 4937 years from Creation, or 1177 C.E.].
The importance of learning Torah with the commentaries of the Rabbis:
Why is it so important - so vital - to learn the Torah with the commentaries? I will give you an example: When Adam ate from the tree, what did most people think offhand? That he was a simpleton with no mind of his own, easy to control and therefore he listened to his wife who convinced him to do something forbidden…
But does that sound right to you? There is certainly much more here than meets the eye.
Several Rabbis have explained and commented on this matter. Here is one example:
"In "Michtav M-Eliyahu," Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler asks an obvious question: How could it be that Adam Harishon failed to keep this commandment? He had nearly everything he could want, and yet he wanted the one thing he could not have! Rabbi Dessler answers that Adam did not commit his sin by accident or without intent. Adam knew what he was doing and what the consequences would be - and yet he still ate from the tree! According to Rabbi Dessler, Adam reasoned to himself, "If I commit this sin, I will get an internal Yetzer Harah (Evil Inclination), which will try to force me to sin. When I still obey Hashem's will even then, my reward will be far greater, since there will be an internal force trying to stop me!" Hakadosh Baruch Hu (G-d), however, disagreed. He knew, in His infinite wisdom, that the Yetzer Harah cannot be underestimated. Adam thought that if he had the test of an internal inclination towards evil, he would still do Hashem's will, meriting greater reward. Hashem responded that Adam, though correct in theory, was not correct in practice. Once an internal force of evil exists, doing Hashem's will is something no one can be sure of. One never knows when he will slip."
As you can see, if we did not learn the Torah with the commentaries of these righteous Rabbis, whose whole purpose in life is to serve Hashem well, keep His mitzvos and learn Torah, we would have no clue what really lies behind the many, many stories in the Torah.
Anyone who has not learned Torah properly and says that the reason we were put in this world is purely coincidental and for the utter sake of having a good time and making money, has either not given the matter enough thought, or if he has, made up that excuse because the truth - the fact that he really has no idea why we are here and what happens after we die, scares him.
Most of these people are terrified of death because they don't want to just die and not exist anymore. Well, of course not. Who would want such a fate? But such a fate is given only to these who purposely do not keep the Torah and are considered total evil people - rasha gamur. If people knew what awaits them in Heaven and in the World to Come, the only thing they would fear, not death, is the fact that they did not keep Hashem's Torah and do enough mitzvos while they were in this world, in other words, they did not fulfill their rectification - their purpose in this world.
Gehennom (Hell) is not a fun place. Hashem does of course take into consideration how much a person knew about His Torah or not and judges everyone favorably. However, Gehennom is for the sake of purifying the soul and completing the 'job' the person did not accomplish while he was alive in this world.
Even Gehennom, though, is Hashem's love for us. He wants us to unite as One with Him and that’s why we go through everything we do in this world and in Gehennom, G-d Forbid.
I would like to summarize this chapter by saying that there really is so much to learn about Judaism. You can go into the internet and find websites such as www.aish.com or www.breslovworld.com where Rabbis will be happy to help you broaden your knowledge and understanding of Judaism.
You can also learn a lot by reading all of the messages on Daniel's website.
The more you learn,the bstter you will understand about us, the Jews and Hashem's special purpose for us.
Read Galia's latest message on this site to also broaden your knowledge. She explains things so many Jews do not know about as you will see.
Taken from Daniel's site www.dani18.com, Chapter 62a:
Soon it will all be over and life will be good;
Everyone will be healthy and everyone will be happy.
Everyone will learn Torah and there will not be any Evil Inclination.
People will not be angry with each other
and everyone will live in peace and harmony,
until the next stage, which is a step that is on an even higher level for humans,
but you cannot understand what that means at this time.
Good luck and be happy! It is a huge mitzvah to serve Hashem with joy and will award you much merit. The fact that you are reading this means you have a lot to be happy about - you are taking the first step in returning to our Father in Heaven.