Judaism, the first and oldest of the three great monotheistic faiths, is the religion and way of life of the Jewish people. The basic laws and tenets of Judaism are derived from the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.
The most important teaching and tenet of Judaism is that there is one God, incorporeal and eternal, who wants all people to do what is just and merciful. All people are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
A Covenanted People
The Jewish people serve God by study, prayer and by the observance of the commandments set forth in the Torah. This faithfulness to the biblical Covenant can be understood as the “vocation,” “witness” and “mission” of the Jewish people.
Unlike some religions, Judaism does not believe that other peoples must adopt its own religious beliefs and practices in order to be redeemed. It is by deeds, not creed, that the world is judged; the righteous of all nations have a share in the “world to come.”
For this reason, Judaism is not an active missionary religion. The community does accept converts, but this is at the decision of competent Jewish religious authorities. It is not simply a matter of personal self-identification.
Sacred and Religious Writings
The most important Jewish religious text is the Bible itself (what some Christians call the “Old Testament”), consisting of the books of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings.
Following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70 CE, Jewish religious scholars in the Land of Israel compiled the six volumes of the Mishnah in order to record and preserve the canon of Jewish religious legislation, laws and customs. During the next five centuries, this was supplemented by the Gemara, recorded commentaries, discussions, and debates contributed by rabbinical scholars in the Land and in Babylon. Together these two texts comprise the Talmud which remains a living source of...