Judaism can be considered a faith, culture, and ethnicity. Judaism as a religion is a monotheistic religion with a wide variety of movements. Historic groups include the Sadducees, Pharisees and the Essenes.¹ Rabbinic Judaism is the basis two of the three modern forms of Judaism: Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism. Reform Judaism considers Jewish law as guidelines to be interpreted by modern understanding. People can convert to Judaism but Judaism is also considered an ethnic group.¹
The Jewish faith contains several scriptures. The Tanakh (also known as the Masoric text or Miqra) contains three parts: the Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim. The Talmud contains the oral traditions of the Torah (called the Mishnah) and the Gemara.¹ These books and writings contain the code of Jewish law and history.
The Torah consists of five books of Moses, which tells the story of creation and the Israelite people who are the ancestors of the Jewish people, including Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.¹ It tells the story of Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt and the rules and laws Moses received from God. Vayikra, the third book, expands on the laws and moral rules for Israelites to follow to be God-pleasing. And Bamidbar expands on the journey of the Israelite people to the Promised Land.¹ Devarim, the fifth book, ends with Moses appointing Joshua as leader.
Despite the scriptures and traditions, there are no core principles of faith that Jewish people have agreed upon. However, there are six mitzvot (commandments) that are considered “constant”.¹ While other mitzvot are “time-bound” (relying on circumstances or specific events), these six mitzvoth are always applicable and not bound by time¹:
- To Know There is a God
- Not to Believe in Any Other “Gods”
- To Know That God is One
- To Love God
- To Be in Awe of God
- Not to Be Led Astray by Our Desires
1. Abramowitz, Rabbi Jack. The Six Constant Mitzvos. Retrieved May 22, 2014, from http://www.ou.org/index.php/torah/article/the_six_constant_mitzvos/