Wrapping Up Judaism

28 09 2009

The sun is setting on Yom Kippur, and thus ends the holiest day of the Hebrew year.  I know I’ve spent a fair amount of time on Judaism; part of it was just the time of year, but, also, it is the oldest of the three main Western religions, plus it was the tradition I was raised in, thus know the most about.  And it was the study of Judaism, and many conversations with my childhood Rabbi, that started me on the road of trying to find Universal Truth.  Well, that and my early love of math, which, I’m afraid, peppers a lot of my reasoning.  But, as I close the book on Judaism for now, I wanted to take some time to tell non-Jews what Judaism, at least the Judaism I know, is all about.  Ready?

It’s about questioning.  Well, questioning is only part of it.  The rest is arguing.  See, the whole of Judaism is built on these Five Books of Moses, the Torah, which, apart from Jesus’ foreskin, the Shroud of Turin and, arguably, the Buddha’s tooth, which was lost some 600 years ago, are the only things claimed by any religion to actually have been in contact with the Divine Being Itself, and left behind on the earthly plane.  The problem is that, from the very beginning of the Torah, it is simply at odds with the most empirical of human facts: Adam and Eve had no daughters, and yet, here is humanity.  Here we are!  Whence came we?

Genesis 5:26, in all the discussion of Cain and Abel and the peculiar parable of God’s dislike for vegetables in favor of meat, Cain went off into the world and had gobs of kids.  With whom?  I mean, ok, if he were still in the Garden, he could be having a bit of incest, but in the world, what?  Also, in Genesis 4:14, Cain is worried that, upon being cast from Eden, that everyone that finds him will kill him.  But, wait a minute.  At that point in time, the only other humans in existence are his mom and dad, and they’re both miles away and not the sort to kill off their only remaining son.  So, from Chapter 4 of Genesis, there are questions to be raised.  Well, from the first letter of the Bible, there are questions to be raised, as I mentioned before.  And, for the past 5000 years or so, Jews have been raising these questions and arguing about the answers.  They have argued and debated over every chapter, every verse, every clause, every word and every letter.  I mean, again, if this was God writing it in Its own finger, it must be important enough for humans to understand.  And remember, each letter is a number, so synonymous words, like “hello” versus “howdy”, is a really a completely different word, so why is this word used instead of that one?  How would the meaning have changed if a different word had been used, and is there anything we can learn because it was this way instead of the other?  Should words be interpretted by their apparent meaning or by their mathematical meaning?  Are words which mean different things but have the same numerical value really, at a fundamental level, the same thing?  All words, and combinations of words, clauses, phrases, sentences, verses, chapters, have numerical values.  If this sentence of the Bible adds up to 8392 and some other sentence also adds up to 8392, are they fundamentally the same?  And if so, are they doubly important for having appeared twice?  And, as you can construct ever longer palindromes based on the same phrase, if you strung a bunch of words together which also equalled 8392, would it, again, mean the same thing, as that 8392 in the Bible, even if the words appeared to diametrically oppose the words written?

And thus, in a fit of complexity, and a whole bunch of years thousands of men constructed the Talmud, well, two of them, two competing ones, which form the basis of the way Judaism actually works.  See, the Judaism that you see in the streets bears really very little resemblance to the Judaism of ages ago, although nothing has actually changed in the religious texts.  And, that’s why, for example, we don’t do animal sacrifices on the 3 Big Holidays in the Bible, Passover, Sukkoth and Shavuoth; and that’s why, for example, the Holiest Days of the Year, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, don’t appear anywhere in the Bible at all. 

With that, I’ll be leaving Judaism.  Next stop Christianity!  Hang on tight!




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