What Orthodox Jews Believe

Central tenets of Orthodox Judaism, based on the questions in the Belief-O-Matic quiz.

 

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  • Belief in Deity
    There exists only one personal God Almighty--creator, all-powerful, ever-present, and all-knowing--formless, incorporeal spirit.

    Incarnations
    None, as only God is worshipped. Moses was the greatest of all prophets.

    Origin of Universe and Life
    They hold to the book of Genesis literally, that God created the universe/life from nothing, in less than 7 days, less than 10,000 years ago; Adam and Eve were the first humans. But, some hold that a “day” in the Bible is not defined as 24 hours, and some believe that scientific discoveries don’t contradict but attest to God’s awesome power.

    After Death
    Traditional Judaism believes in the World to Come, the coming of the messianic age heralded by the messiah, and a resurrection of the dead, but beliefs vary on the details. Some believe souls of the righteous go to heaven, or are reincarnated, while the wicked suffer from a hell of their own making or remain dead. Some believe God will resurrect the righteous to live on earth after the Messiah comes to purify the world. Judaism generally focuses on strictly following God's commandments rather than on details of afterlife or rewards after death.

    Why Evil?
    No original sin. Most believe God created Satan as evil inclination, a tendency that lies within everyone. People also have awareness of and inclination toward goodness. Thus, God provides free will as a test of obedience and faith.

    Salvation
    Salvation is achieved through faith and continual prayer to God, strict adherence to divine commandments (Jewish Law), including dietary restrictions, to give to the poor, "love your neighbor as yourself," bring God’s message to humanity by example (a responsibility of God’s "chosen people"). Confessions and repentances are expressed through Yom Kippur when one fasts, asks forgiveness from others and from themselves, and commits to do good deeds in the future.

    Undeserved Suffering
    Sometimes it is believed that suffering is caused by a weakness in one’s devotion to God. Generally, it is believed that God gave humans free will to feel pleasure and pain, and His purpose in allowing deep suffering of the innocent must be good even if mysterious. God suffers along with the sufferer. Some Jews (e.g. the Hasidim) believe that suffering is punishment for past-life sins. Knowing why God allows suffering is not as important as knowing that God will punish the perpetrators.

    Contemporary Issues
    Judaism holds that human life begins upon first breath, and Jewish law requires abortion if necessary to save the mother’s life prior to birth. Most believe that potential human life should never be terminated casually, but abortion is generally regarded as a personal decision, especially within the first 40 days of pregnancy.


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