Judaism, or Judaism, is the religion of the Jewish people and its culture. But it is not only this: it is also a way of being, a historical and cultural baggage; it is a story made of ideas and knowledge, of reflections on the world and on God. Judaism is, in short, the answer to an ever-present question, which the Jewish people have never stopped asking themselves: what does it mean to be Jews? It is an answer with many colors and almost infinite facets
The Jews and the time
A first approach to Judaism may be to study the way Jews consider time, a fundamental element for a people that has lived millennia without a land. For the Jewish calendar we are very far from the 21st century: 2006 corresponds, for example, to the year 5766! The Jews calculate the date from the creation of the world (obviously this is not a scientific calculation). Moreover, the Jewish year begins not on the first of January, but rather on the first of the Hebrew month of tishri : the Jewish months correspond to the phases of the Moon, and bear different names from those of the civil calendar. The month of tishri , which inaugurates the new year, falls between September and October.
But there is also another more ‘sentimental’ idea of time, which well explains the Hebrew orientation: in Hebrew, the word to say first is the same that means more or less before . This correspondence explains to us that for the Jewish people the past lies ahead, while the future lies behind us. We know something about the past, and so we have it in a certain sense before our eyes, while the future, the future as well as the remote one, remains unknown.
This typical orientation of Judaism also explains why Jews are so important to memory: “Remember!” it is an imperative that God often addresses to the people of Israel in the Bible . The memory is baggage, it is awareness of what we come from, but also heritage to face the present.
But as is well known, “Remember” is not the only order that the God of the Bible imparts to his people. The sacred text, first of Judaism and then of Christianity, is in fact a set of narratives and a code of laws. It contains the chronicle of the vicissitudes that first of all have the patriarchs ( Abraham , Isaac, Jacob) and then the people of Israel, first under the guidance of the judges, then the kings. It contains the deeds of the prophets, who speak for (ie ‘instead of’) God to the people, paying attention to his mistakes and ways to behave better, and much more. But it also includes a code of laws to be respected, just as there are in every modern state. The Decalogue – that is the ten commandments,
The code of laws, which God gives to Moses on Sinai because he transmits it to all his people, is essentially the sign of the pact signed with Abraham: “If you commit yourself to observe this law and pass it on to your children, I will do of you the chosen people “, God says to Abraham. The Bible is equivalent to the document that ratifies this covenant.
The chosen people
It has always been said that the Jewish people are the chosen people. But why? And what does election mean? This word simply means “choice”, but does not indicate any claim to superiority. The Jews do not feel superior because they consider themselves the chosen people. God has chosen them to be priests of humanity: it is a profession, rather than a privilege. In the world there are pastors and writers, fishermen and farmers: the task of the Jews is, according to tradition, to guard the divine word and study it, waiting for the Messiah to come. This is the meaning and nature of the chosen people expression. For Judaism, in fact, the world is beautiful because each individual is different from the other and each people has its own characteristics.