Beliefnet
Excerpted and adapted from the book, "Judaism for Everyone: Renewing your Life through the VibrantLessons of the Jewish Faith" by Shmuley Boteach. Copyright c 2002. Reprintedby arrangement with Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Allrights reserved.

I believe that the age of Judaism has arrived.

In the past two millennia, Christianity and Islam have been the decisive factors shaping world history. These religions concern themselves with macrocosmic issues-political, economic, and social. Judaism has concerned itself with small questions: whom to marry, how to be a good son and honor one's parents, how to practice honesty in business, how to wrestle with and ultimately conquer the darker angels of one's nature, how to refrain from gossiping behind a friend's back, how to overcome feelings of jealousy and celebrate the good fortune of others, and finally how to imbue everyday life with passion and meaning. The Jews have turned their creative powers inward rather than outward and focused on perfecting themselves and the world around them.

While the macrocosm is improving, the microcosm--the inner world of man--is deteriorating with alarming rapidity. Divorce and infidelity rates are higher than ever. The crime wave, the curse of the Western world for several generations, today even involves children who shoot one another at school with guns. Drug and substance abuse climb, with no end in sight. Antidepressants, Prozac for example, remain the miracle drugs of a despondent and depressed generation. (One in four Americans has been treated at some point for depression.) People flock to movies and watch endless hours of television in an effort to escape the monotony and pain of their lives for a while.

What our generation requires above all is a way to master our lives in a confusing world of endless possibility and choice. Judaism can provide it.

What our generation requires above all is a way to master our lives in a confusing world of endless possibility and choice. We want a creed that will offer us passion and success without substantial sacrifice. Judaism can provide it. While other nations were perfecting the art of war and building armies and navies, Judaism was perfecting the art of building families and communities and closing the generation gap to ensure that an ancient tradition could be passed from father to son and mother to daughter with minimal disruption. No other method of living has so celebrated life amid a devotion to spiritual values. Judaism offers a spiritually based philosophy that is concerned primarily with life in this world, rather than the hereafter.

Western civilization is predicated on various foundation stones, and it is [my] purpose to demonstrate not only the roots of some of these ideas in Judaism and the Bible but, more important, how Judaism is a program of action designed to internalize these concepts within the heart of man and society. I have compiled the eighteen cardinal tenets of the modern world as I see them, and I have shown how each emanates from a different strand within the fabric of the Bible and Jewish faith.

The Belief in the Brotherhood of Mankind and the Kinship of All Living Things. We all emanate from a single source in God, and thus humanity is one family, responsible for each of its members. Because we are all children of the one god, there is hope that all humankind can live together in peace and harmony. An all-encompassing unity is at the heart of creation. There are no opposing forces at odds in the universe. This emanates from the belief in one God and one Creator.

The Belief in the Equality and Infinite Value of All Human Beings and in Their Dignity, Which Must Be Upheld and Protected by All. Every human is special and irreplaceable. Our worth is not judged by our possessions, but by our divine, immortal soul. Human life is sacred. This stems from the biblical statement that man was created in the image of God.

History is Directional and Continually Evolves for the Betterment of Mankind. Every good deed, however small, is significant and cumulative and ultimately brings us closer to the perfect world, which is in our power to bring about. Action is far more significant than dogma or belief. The right thing should be done even if for the wrong reasons. This springs from the ancient Jewish belief that history began in chaos but will culminate gradually in the messianic era. The Messiah will one day perfect the world, but in the meantime we must contribute to the world's completion.

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