Explore BrainMass

Conservative, Reform and Orthodox Judaism

There are 4 question,each has to be 300-400 words.

1-What are the circumstances that let to the written composition of the Talmud? What are the parts of the Talmud and how do they related to one another?
2- Discuss the role of the prophets in Jewish history.
3- What was the history of Zionism and what role did the Holocaust play in this history?
4- What distinguishes Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox Judaism?

Solution Preview


One approach to help you with short essay assignment like these is to provide information from various sources, which you can then write your final copies. This is the approach this response takes. It should be fairly easy to take it to the next step. Be sure to write your responses in your own words.

Let's take a closer look.

1. What are the circumstances that let to the written composition of the Talmud?

The Talmud is a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs, and history. It is a central text of Rabbinic Judaism. In importance, it is second only to the Hebrew Bible. Specifically, the Talmud has two components:

. Mishnah (c. 200 CE), the first written compendium of Judaism's Oral Law
. Gemara (c. 500 CE), a discussion of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings (many different subjects and issues)

The circumstances that lead to the written composition of the Talmud are twofold. For example:

. The Talmud was written by the rabbis in order to keep a central seat of rabbinic power during the times of high chaos, such as encountering different culture, persecution of the Jewish people and Jewish people leaving the land of Israel.

. This is because the people needed a written document to guide their life and behaviors, and which the rabbis could use in teaching the People of Israel.

That is, the Talmud was necessary when tensions arose as Israel encountered the cultures of the west, primarily Hellenism and the Roman Empire. During this period, the population grew and became increasingly urbanized with new problems in agriculture arose that the Torah did not address. It became clear to the rabbis that new legislation and new approaches to applying the Torah to the daily life problems of the Jewish people were needed. The response was that these written traditions eventually became part of the Mishnah and then the Talmud. The Mishnah was both legalistic (end of the second century, CE) as well as descriptive (preserving descriptions of how Jewish life and ritual were lived in the Second Temple Period). According to Jewish tradition, these laws and traditions were passed on orally (before the written texts) for many generations. Thus, chaos, tensions and agriculture related problems gave rise to the need for a written document to help solve daily problems that the Torah (first five books of Moses).

Now, let's look closer at events leading up to the writing of the Talmud.

As mentioned above, prior to the Talmud, the Oral Law was first written into the Mishnah. However, very soon after it was written, it became clear to the rabbi that it would need to supplement the information written in the Mishnah to be more applicable to daily life problems. So, it was supplemented and the Mishnah became part of the Talmud. The Talmud is more than just an application of the details of the Jewish law as written in the Mishnah, however. One source refers to it as the encyclopedia of all Jewish existence, meaning that it has information for the Jewish People to apply to every day living.

Historically, Judaism only had the Oral Law passed down from tradition. However, in a time of chaos, the rabbis decided that they must do the 'unprecedented;" they must write down the Oral Law. It was for various reasons, such as encountering other cultures, persecution and unrest amongst the Jewish people, with the Jewish people fleeing the land of Israel that demanded this: first in the Mishnah, then the Talmud. Indeed, the rabbis realized soon after it was written that the Mishnah was not enough since it had problems of application to help the Jewish People in their daily struggles e.g. was written in shorthand fashion and in places it was cryptic. This is because it was very concise and written more for the learned person who knew the subject matter, such as the rabbis rather than in application to life problems.

How was it written? What was the content? It came out of the discussions that the rabbis had about the Mishnah and they wrote down the these discussions, which later became part of the Talmud (Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud.) Specifically, a discussion of the Mishnah took place in the academies of Babylonia between the years 200 and 600 CE. The edited and redacted transcript of those discussions and dissertations on the Mishnah is called the Gemara, meaning completion. Together, Mishnah and Gemara make up the Talmud. The Talmud is believed to be the written record of what Jews believe is Moses' oral Torah, as well as its meaning, and application.

Thus, the Talmud presented the written and oral tradition together. If you have a chance to read the Talmud, you will be reading a lot of arguments. The idea here is that through these arguments, you would arrive at some level of the truth. The reason why the rabbis argued about things that may not have any application to everyday life was to try to get to truth in an abstract way. It was the Jewish way of teaching the principles of G-d. This is an interesting way to teach the Jewish People how to live a G-odly life. These rabbis were interested in knowing the truth and doing the right thing. Judaism is about learning the reality of ...

Solution Summary

This solution distinguished between Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox Judaism, as well as discusses the Talmud, the role of the prophets in Jewish history, the history of Zionism and the role of the Holocaust in this history.