Not By Belief Alone

Unlike Christianity, Judaism cannot be defined by a set of beliefs


05/16/2011 07:37:08 PM

It is easy for one to say they believe in G-d, but how many people would claim to believe G-d. Abraham did and was told that he was righteous. He didn't yet do anything. He didn't even have the circumcision rule for the covenant. But G-d declared him righteous because of his belief in G-d (what G-d said) Then when Abraham was told to offer his only son (even though Ishmael was also his son Isaac was the only son of the promise), he obeyed and justified the faith that he demonstrated through his belief. His actions and faith worked together. But faith had to come first


09/04/2002 08:10:21 PM

It is through the efforts of **ALL** Jews down through the millenia that our precious teachings have been preserved. Conservative Jews believe that our Torah, written and oral, contains sacred truth. But, the Torah is a document of faith, not a history book. That is not to say it is not true, that is to say it was never meant to be "proved" in the way Divine Torah claims (erroneously) that it has been. Conservative Jews, unlike Divine Torah, do not believe that fasting on fast days, kashrut, the mitzvah of tefilin, or prayer are "irrational". We fulfill these mitzvot because we believe that they help make us a holy people, better individuals, they help us to express our love of G-d. "Divine Torah" should not infer as she (???Torah is a feminine noun) does, that because Conservative and Reform bring contemporary scholarship to their study, that they are not authentic in their Judaism. It is pure arrogance to refer to us as ?sects?. Jews are Jews and always have been.


08/28/2002 11:38:26 PM

In response to the Divine Torah post, Rabbi Wolpe is NOT a Reform rabbi. He is the rabbi at the Conservative synagogue, Temple Sinai in Los Angeles.


02/18/2002 08:43:00 PM

Let me add my two cents here. First off, the first poster on this board is simply wrong. Maimonides' 13 principles have NOT been accepted by all Jews and all Jewish communities since he wrote them. In fact, at at the time, he was condemned as a heretic for suggesting that one needed to adhere to anything in particular to be considered Jewish. Second, Rabbi Wolpe does an excellent job in this posting of explaining the VARIETIES of belief that exist within Judaism today. He is not denigrating anyone who holds traditional beliefs and is only giving the accurate answer to the question posed to him: what does one need to believe in order to be Jewish. Traditional Judaism asserts that a person is Jewish if he or she has a Jewish mother or if one converts to Judaism--PERIOD. No beliefs make one a Jew, just birth or conversion ritual. What God may require a Jew to do is a separate issue.


04/26/2001 12:45:31 AM

I would like to Note that Rabbi Wolpe is a reform rabbi anddoes not represent the Jews of the last 3300 years. I am not against him andactually his speeches are wonderful. But it is important for Jews and non-Jewsto know that the foundation of the Jewish faith is based upon a DivineTorah.Jews have been keeping irrational commandments, such as fasting, tefilin,praying 3times a day, because of a Revelation that happened to a WHOLE Nationand not a single person.


04/26/2001 12:45:17 AM

A tradition, which was passed down. Where in ourhistory could a Torah like this been made up of? If it’s partly divine, whatkind of a evil trick is G-d playing on us? Infact, the vast majority ofarcheologist/scholars have shown proofs of the Torah. From either the 4speciesof kosher animals, which in itself is amazing, the 7 year cycle of thecultivation, and 100s of other prophecies. Our tradition is based upon a DivineTorah,if not, everything will fall apart. Conserva/Reform Judaism have come in only recentlyto alter these things and "come into modernity" yet DO NOT representtraditional Judaism which has been passed down for over 3000 years. Yet I mustSay that ALL JEWS are Equal and all are my brothers, No matter what SECT u arein.


03/03/2001 06:51:00 PM

After Jacob wrestled with the "el," Jacob was blessed and his name changed to Isra-el in recognition of the fact that Jacob had engaged in the encounter in a laudable manner. The Rabbi suggests that today's Jews are defined more by following Jacob's wrestling with the "el" in dealing with the problems of the modern world than by any set of beliefs. I think Rabbi Wolpe is corect. I also think that FAITH is the antithesis of the Jewish way of dealing with the world. To the extent one limits his thinking by accepting certain beliefs, he has abdicated his moral responsibility. Thus, no et of beliefs can make a person as Jewish.


03/01/2001 10:18:59 AM

If you are Jewish and believe that Torah and Judaism are the products of human beings; If you believe that, in spite of this, there is much profound insight in the central body of Jewish Myth; If you "wrestle with G-d," even though you believe that G-d is made in the image of the ideal Man; then a Judaism cut from this cloth is just as authentic as the Traditional. Just as the rabbis reinvented Judaism after the fall of the 2nd Temple, and just as the priests did before them, many modern Jews are engaging in the time honored tradition of reinventing Judaism in the face of a changing world. There is no one, alive or dead, with the authority to declare this inauthentic.


05/19/2000 01:49:54 AM

read my second post down first for it to make sense!


05/19/2000 01:49:15 AM

As Yonatron said this does mean that Jews who don't live up to the commandments are not Jewish they are. But although a fish is still a fish on dry land struggling for air it is not doing what as a fish it was meant to do which is swim. Saying Judaism is not defined strongly be definite beliefs/knowledge is like lowering the bar and saying "Who said a fish has to swim," it's still a fish and if it likes sunbathing on the shore, that just means it's modern, liberated, and informed and that is an authentic thing for a fish to be. It doesn't work that way.


05/19/2000 01:46:09 AM

Pygmallion, Actually that's my entire point. If you look closely you'll see that Rabbi Wolpe says "was" in each case, as in is no longer. He makes his stance in this article clear that he himself does not accept the Divine authority of the Torah. The Rambam gave 13 Fundamentals of Faith not just three, I was quoting examples. There are 613 mitzot which we "believe" God gave to the Jewish people to do. We believe in a God who was revealed to us at Mt. Sinai. Judaism cannot be defined by beliefs, one cannot merely be Jewish in thier heart, it must be lived. But of all the commandments are predicated on the belief that God commanded them. If they were not then they would be of little cosmic import. To suggest, a Jew can believe in whatever he wants and that is authentic way of being Jewish is nonsense and a fraud and has nothing to do with the true eternal mission of the Jewish people.


05/16/2000 06:29:03 PM

Let's be clear: Being Jewish and Living Jewish are 2 different things. One can be born a Jew and never do anything about it. Are you considered a full Jew? Yes. Are you fulfilling your Jewish potential? No. So, no beliefs necessary to BE Jewish. However if you want to LIVE Jewish, and actually act on the commandments, then indeed one NEEDS a belief system. The RAMBAM's (Maimonides') 13 principles are not requirements such that: "If you don't believe these you're not Jewish anymore" What he's doing is much more subtle. He's saying: "Here is the necessary framework of beliefs that the Torah is built upon. In order to act and feel fully, in an integrated way as an expressed Jew doing the commandments, these beliefs MUST be part of your psyche." Continued in next post...


05/16/2000 06:28:52 PM

Continued from previous post... IE he's saying these are the principles you need to have in order to act and feel complete when living the Mitzvos. Like a physicist needs to know E=MC^2. (Practically speaking, if you don;t have them all down yet, that's OK, the others will come with time and practice!) Yonatron Source: Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg zt'l Rav Weinberg was one of the greatest Rambam scholars of our time.


05/11/2000 02:20:20 AM

Interestingly, the three examples of Jewish dogmas that sababa lists are also listed by Rabbi Wolpe. Sababa: "...God is one, is incorporeal, authored the Torah exclusively, and that a Messiah will come." Wolpe: "certain elements were considered almost universal. First was the belief in one God. Another was revelation, the divine origin of the Bible. Third was ultimate redemption, that eventually God would, through the agency of a messiah, usher the world into a better time." These match almost one-to-one.


05/04/2000 11:56:16 PM

I have always respected Rabbi Wolpe as a prolific author and an influencal rabbi who has made a profound impact on the American Jewish community. Though not sharing his same theological perspective, I nonetheless have found little to argue with what he says. Sadly,I now must. I am suprised quite frankly by the views taken in this post. Traditional Judaism which is identified as the Orthodox, Traditional, and in a few remaining instances the Conservative hold views radically differernt from those expressed here. Maimonodies was quite successful in establishing the foundations of our faith, thirteen of them to be exact. It affirms God is one, is incorporeal, authored the Torah exclusively, and that a Messiah will come. Rational argument, believe it or not, can support of all of this and detract from modern claims by some or many scholars. There is a large movement of people including doctors, lawyers, and professors returning to this belief which is lived in daily, minute by minute practice.