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Questions about Judaism

Postby DamianaRaven » Tue May 28, 2013 11:28 pm

What's the deal with the yarmulke?

Is "Jew" an offensive term when used (neutrally) by a Gentile? For example: "Eric's a Jew, so he might not want to come to the Christmas party."

As I understand the Holy Books, the Torah is more or less the same text as the Old Testament, so why do you never hear Jewish people freaking out about homosexuality and other old-school issues of morality?

Jews for Jesus... is this really a thing, or is somebody just fucking with some heads? If it is... ???

Is keeping kosher still important in the Jewish community and if so, is it still the same as the Torah dictates? I'm sure it's no coincidence that the "unclean" meats are all the ones which, without modern appliances, were most likely to cause deadly food poisoning.

That's enough of my curiosity for one sitting. Please understand that I am IN NO WAY mocking or disrespecting anybody's faith. In fact, I think that kind of bullshit is mostly caused by ignorance.
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby DangerChocomog » Wed May 29, 2013 1:43 am

a) It's about being modest. You don't expose the top of your head to God.

b) Eric is Jewish would sound better.

c) Homosexuality viewed very differently compared to today, and Jewish people in my experience interpret it differently.

d) Yes & yes.
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby Peryite » Wed May 29, 2013 3:33 am

The term 'Jew' is kind of antiquated. Kind of like calling someone from Sicily a moor. My mother was adopted by Jewish parents, and when my grandmother came to visit and we had hotdogs, she mentioned that everyone in her family bought Hebrew National, while she didn't really care one way or the other. And she loves porkchops. So I guess the whole Kosher thing varies from one person to the next.
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby Deathclaw_Puncher » Wed May 29, 2013 3:35 am

1. The Kippah is supposed to be a reminder that God is watching us.
2. I'm pretty that's something subject to individual sensibilities. I've never heard of that being an issue, but then again, I'm Reform.
3. Just like in Christianity, there are different sects. You will find opposition among those who are of the more traditional sects such as Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox, but Reform and Conservative tend to be the more liberal sects, at least in my experience.
4. Yes.
5. Again, depends on the sect. Reform tends to be more liberal about it. Of course, it's still largely practiced, and it tends to be the younger crowd that has the occasional pork or shellfish.
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby DamianaRaven » Wed May 29, 2013 4:03 am

I really appreciate all the answers and insight! Regarding Jews for Jesus, how is it different than Christianity, if anyone knows? I've heard that the Jewish faith neither denies nor denounces the existence of Jesus Christ - He is described (reverently, I'm told) as a rabbi rather than a messiah. Are there any texts or prophecies detailing when the messiah will come or how to recognize Him/Her when it happens?
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby Deathclaw_Puncher » Wed May 29, 2013 4:27 am

DamianaRaven wrote:I really appreciate all the answers and insight! Regarding Jews for Jesus, how is it different than Christianity, if anyone knows? I've heard that the Jewish faith neither denies nor denounces the existence of Jesus Christ - He is described (reverently, I'm told) as a rabbi rather than a messiah. Are there any texts or prophecies detailing when the messiah will come or how to recognize Him/Her when it happens?

Well, according to the Essenes, and consequently, the Qumran, when the Messiah comes, the Jews will partake in a "Messianic Banquet" where we will feast upon mythological creatures, such as the Leviathan.
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby DamianaRaven » Wed May 29, 2013 6:21 am

Ericthebearjew wrote:Well, according to the Essenes, and consequently, the Qumran, when the Messiah comes, the Jews will partake in a "Messianic Banquet" where we will feast upon mythological creatures, such as the Leviathan.


Wonder what that would taste like? Probably pretty awesome, considering the event!
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby Qinglong » Wed May 29, 2013 12:07 pm

Probably taste like chicken. Giant, underwater chicken.
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby aviel » Thu May 30, 2013 11:18 am

For somewhat more detail than Eric's response, with a lot of my own perspective:

DamianaRaven wrote:What's the deal with the yarmulke?

See Eric's response: it's a reminder about God or something silly like that.

Is "Jew" an offensive term when used (neutrally) by a Gentile? For example: "Eric's a Jew, so he might not want to come to the Christmas party."

Some people think it is but no, not inherently. You have to deliberately use it offensively, e.g. as a verb ("Eric just jewed me out of my money!") or in a sentence that would insult a Jew no matter what phrase you used (e.g. "Jews are so damn greedy.") If a Jew gets offended by benign use of the word, he's oversensitive and Talmudic law mandates you slap him so he toughens up. (I made that up but it really should be in there).

As I understand the Holy Books, the Torah is more or less the same text as the Old Testament, so why do you never hear Jewish people freaking out about homosexuality and other old-school issues of morality?

The Old Testament includes the Torah, Ketuvim ("writings", which includes, among other things, Psalms and the Book of Job), and Nevi'im ("prophets", which includes, among other things, Isaiah and Joshua). Tanakh is actually a Hebrew acronym for Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim.

You still hear the Orthodox going on about premarital sex and homosexuality, but Jews as a whole tend to be pretty progressive, and I really don't like the orthodox Jewish community. The most popular branches of Judaism are Reform Judaism (which holds that any Jew can interpret Halakha (Jewish law, basically the Jewish equivalent of Sharia) for himself) and Conservative Judaism (which leaves interpretation in the hands of professionals, but tends to make substantially more liberal interpretations than the orthodox Jews). Both of these philosophies lend themselves well to not adhering to archaic ideas of morality and Biblical literalism in the face of scientific evidence. It should also be noted that half of American Jews doubt the existence of God in the first place, so it shouldn't be surprising that we mostly don't adhere to religious views of morality.

But really, Jews not taking the Bible literally is a pretty time honored traditional that far exceeds current branches of Judaism. The 9th century philosopher Sadia Ga'on believed that the Bible was literally true, but thought that Aristotelian reasoning and evidence substantiated and aligned with it. The 12th century Jewish philosopher Maimonedes (also known as Revi Moshe ben Maimon, or Rambam for short) said that, for example, the creation story should not be taken literally. The Orthodox Jews really like Rambam's Torah commentaries, so they kind of ignore his philosophies. And by the 16th century, Spinoza was already stating that God existed only to create the universe and that he didn't interfere with any events.

Jews for Jesus... is this really a thing, or is somebody just fucking with some heads? If it is... ???

It was started by Christians as a means of converting Jews. Jews will tend not to consider "Messianic Jews" Jews: they weren't an offshoot of Judaism and believe that a Messiah came to Earth. (Interestingly, so do many of the Chabadniks, though many will also deny that or try to change the subject).

Is keeping kosher still important in the Jewish community and if so, is it still the same as the Torah dictates? I'm sure it's no coincidence that the "unclean" meats are all the ones which, without modern appliances, were most likely to cause deadly food poisoning.

So, it really depends on the Jews. My family keeps pretty much kosher in the home but not really outside. My uncle and his family, who are orthodox, keep strictly kosher everywhere. In Israel, everybody keeps Kosher because everything is already Kosher, so it doesn't really require extra effort. But in America, Jews will tend not to keep kosher much, if at all.

The modern laws of kashrut that, for example, my parents and I follow in the home and that my uncle and cousins always follow is not the law expressed in the Torah. That's because Jews don't follow the laws expressed in the Torah. We (in theory at least) follow the laws expressed in the Talmud, which is a series of Rabbinic commentaries on the Torah by various Rabbis nearly 2000 years ago (though there have been many famous commentaries since). Talmudic law often seriously deviates from, and occasionally just contradicts, the laws of the Torah.

The thing is that, by the time the Talmud was written, much of the Torah was 1000 years old already. And considering that the Torah demanded things like sacrifices at the temple, and that the Romans had recently destroyed the Temple, Jewish law seriously needed a revamp. So the Talmud focused much more on prayer as a religious ritual than sacrifice, which really saved Judaism. Otherwise Judaism would have died with the second Temple in 70 CE.

Also, I don't really know of a correlation between Kashrut and health at all. Chicken are perfectly Kosher but will give you salmonella. Pig isn't Kosher even though it (particularly with modern sanitation) is very unlikely to give you a parasite. Cracked makes the argument that Islam and Judaism ban pork because pigs are too expensive to raise in the desert, which I find an interesting hypothesis. Ultimately though, who the hell knows: those prohibitions were invented 3,000 years ago by superstitious desert people. Maybe one of them had a phobia of shrimp, it's impossible to know.

DamianaRaven wrote:Wonder what that would taste like? Probably pretty awesome, considering the event!

Probably, but the Essenes were somewhat of a fringe group even at the time (they wrote the dead sea scrolls), and of the groups in existence at the destruction of the temple, the Jews are really the successors of the Pharasees. That's why it's a bit uncomfortable for even an atheistic Jew to read the New Testament: when Jesus is bashing the Pharasees, he's sort of bashing the philosophies that founded modern Judaism.
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby Tablo » Thu May 30, 2013 4:42 pm

I think he was bashing( i don't really view it as bashing just opposing) the pharisees because he was basically bringing forward a different ideology and the pharisees were basically his opponents to the ideology.
What is an atheist jew by the way?
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby DamianaRaven » Thu May 30, 2013 5:31 pm

Tablo wrote:What is an atheist jew by the way?


That is a VERY interesting question, because I've observed that "Jewishness" is not necessarily the same as Judaism. A person of Israeli descent is considered (by outsiders, at least) to be Jewish. It's a matter of cultural heredity as well as religion. I apologize if this doesn't sound quite right, but a Jewish person can often be recognized as such by their physical characteristics.

Now that I think about it, religion and race aren't at all independent when looking at the big picture. The "typical" follower of every major religion is going to be inextricably associated with a race or nationality.
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby aviel » Fri May 31, 2013 1:43 am

Tablo wrote:I think he was bashing( i don't really view it as bashing just opposing) the pharisees because he was basically bringing forward a different ideology and the pharisees were basically his opponents to the ideology.
What is an atheist jew by the way?


Damiana mostly has it right (though there are plenty of Israeli Arabs). Jews are an ethnicity as well as a religion. There's certain genetic and cultural homogeneity between Jews. That's how you can get nearly half of Israeli Jews describing themselves as secular and half of American Jews doubting the existence of God. Pretty much regardless of our religious views, we're generally ethnically, culturally, and even genetically Jews.

And yeah, you can often recognize a Jew by his physical characteristics, though I find surnames to be a better indicator if you're going for that. Like Ken Levine, the writer of Bioshock who describes himself as "non-religious"? I'd say there's a 2 in 3 chance he had a bar mitzvah.
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby LaChaise » Fri May 31, 2013 2:54 pm

aviel wrote:And yeah, you can often recognize a Jew by his physical characteristics, though I find surnames to be a better indicator if you're going for that.


I don't know if that's true in the US, but in france you can guess quite safely with just the first name. For example, Sara and Rachel are mostly jewish names.

It might also be because these names almost disappeared in the 40's, for... obvious reasons. The only ones left with this name were jewish, and I guess it stayed that way. (although they are more used nowadays.)
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby DamianaRaven » Fri May 31, 2013 5:21 pm

LaChaise wrote:I don't know if that's true in the US, but in france you can guess quite safely with just the first name. For example, Sara and Rachel are mostly jewish names.


Interesting coincidence, that. My oldest daughter is named Rachel and Sara was the runner-up choice for her sister Sonja. In regards to surnames, the suffixes -man and -stein translate (in my own head, at least) as "quite Jewish."

I'd like to take this moment to sincerely thank the Jewish people for their contribution to the entertainment industry! I mean, just... WOW!
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Last edited by DamianaRaven on Fri May 31, 2013 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Questions about Judaism

Postby Tablo » Fri May 31, 2013 5:26 pm

What does a jew look like?
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