Festivals Pt1, Judaism
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When does the Sabbath start and end?
- Starts - on Friday evening (sunset)
- Finishes - Saturday evening (sunset)
ORIGINS OF SABBATH
Quote part of the Torah that shows the origins of why Sabbath Day is observed.
- "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. You shall not do any work... For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth... and he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath and made it holy".
- One of the Ten Commandments and it comes from Exodus 20.
The significance of the Sabbath day is shown by the fact that the rabbis ____________________________.
had devoted a whole section of the Talmud for Sabbath rules.
The Sabbath rules in the Talmud addresses such things as "what is work?" They found 7 groupings of work and they were:
- Growing/preparing food
- Making clothing
- Leather work and nitting
- Providing shelter (building and demolishing)
- Creating a fire
- Work completion
- Transporting goods (Jews tend to live near synagogue, for they are not allowed to drive either).
What is perhaps some of the importance of Sabbath?
- Sign of their connection with God.
- Gives motivation to work hard for the rest of the week.
- Period of serenity.
- A "sacred" time - different quality of time.
- Bring joy to family and also keep Jewish community together (distinct from other communities "holy nation")
- Sense of unity within women when lighting candle.
Sabbath is extremely important to Jews, more important that any other celebration except possibly ______. (but debatable)
List some of the key rituals performed on Sabbath.
- Mother & daughters bake and bless Challah bread. (mitzvot for women)
- Mother lights 2 Sabbath candles (one to remember, one to keep Sabbath) & says blessing. (mitzvot for women)
- Father blesses Sabbath through Kiddush - blessing over wine.
- Father sings to wife as praise (from Proverbs)
- Father blesses children with his hands
- Table becomes alter.
How does a father bless his children?
- Places lips on child's forehead and holds child while saying:
- "May God make you like Ephraim and Menasheh" (for boys)
- "May God make you like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah" (for girls)
Give arguments for and against Judaism focussing exentensively on following rules. (This is more on prayer/talmud etc)
- Orthodox: would follow rules to the letter, as they believe this is a crucial part in Judaism in order to be halackic and kedushah (separated). Perhaps followig the law is such a fundamental part of Judaism, that if lost, much of what defines the religion would be lost.
- Liberal/reform: Believe that Judaism doesnot need to be so legalistic. Judaism is going to die unless there is change that adapts to the time. eg. sexism in Judaism.
What are the main ideas of Liberal/reform Judaism? Give example of an issue it adresses.
- Belief that only mitzvot that support high ethical standards of behaviour should be retained, others can be discarded (ie Chukim laws - laws with unclear meaning like kosher food laws, Sabbath day laws such as do not rip toilet paper).
- eg. Women to have equal rights to men. So, female rabbis, men and women pray together etc. (Keen to modernise itself.)
What is the name for mitzvot/ laws that have an unclear/unknown meaning?
What would reform Jews still take part in and enjoy?
- Enjoy Sabbath (esp. generally ceremonies)Go to synagogue on Saturday
- Take part in Yom Kippur
- Passover meal
- Still treat the Torah scroll with reverance
What is the argument against reform Judaism?
- Led to many Jews becoming almost indistinct from their gentile neighbours. Practices are "watered down" that they hardly seemed a different religion. After all, Christians worshipped one God and strove to meet high ethical standards too - what's the difference?
- The strict following of the law is very much what makes up Judaism.
What is the ceremony that marks the end of the Sabbath called?
What is the significance of the Havdallah ceremony?
- Marks the distinction between the time that is sacred (sabbath), and that is profane (normal, rest of the week).
- As soon as havdallah is over, you can work again - lighting the candle is first sign of work.
Who lights the candles to mark the beginning of Sabbath and how many? How about after Sabbath? What significance?
- Women (usually mother of the family)
- Usually 2 candles (one for remembering the Sabbath, one for keeping the Sabbath).
- After Sabbath, at the end of Havdallah ceremony, candles are lit again.
- Significance: Once again, Judaism stresses the importance of these "distinctions". The light and darkness, sacred and profane time, seventh day to the six workdays - it is distinctions. (Havdallah means "division").
What are some of the practices during Havdallah?
- Lighting of the candle - first sign of work being done.
- Spice box to lift the spirits of the family (sadness as Sabbath is over).
- Blessing over wine.
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Name the three pilgrim festivals.
- Pesach (Passover) - the feast of unleavened bread.
- Shavuot (feast of weeks)
- Sukkot (feast of tabernacles)
What were the origins of the pilgrim festivals?
- Were originally tied to the agricultural cycle of Israel.
- The 3 feasts were associated with the three harvests of the year, and Jews would make pilgrimages to the temple on each occasion to present offerings from the harvest.
Where are the instructions for the pilgrim festivals? Give 2 quotes about general pilgrim festivals.
- Torah and the Talmud.
- "Three times a year all your males shall apear before the Lord..."
- "Thou shalt not appear before the Lord empty handed" (Deuteronomy)
Briefly outline how the destruction of the temple in 586BCE and 70BCE changed the significance of the pilgrim.
After the destruction, these festivals began to focus more on remembering Jewish history, especially the Exodus, than visiting the Temple.
What was the historical event attached to each of the 3 pilgrim festivals?
- Passover: was associated with the actual escape from Egypt, and commemorate God "passing over" the Hebrews in Egypt, and sparing their first born during the last plague.
- Shavuot: was associated with the giving of the commandments on Mt. Sinai.
- Sukkot: was associated with the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
What are the general significance of the pilgrim festivals?
- All 3 festivals signify the concept of chosen people, covanent, and the birth of their religion.
- Yearly reminders of the central events in ancient Jewish history.
- Help keep the community strong and focused.
Why could the Exodus be considered the most important event in ancient Jewish history.
- Idea that Yahweh had rescued them from Egypt gave them confidence that they were truelly his chosen people, and that God is keeping his covenant with Abraham.
- During forty years in the wilderness, God revealed Ten Commandments and 613 mitzvot.
- So exodus is really the true beginning of Judaism as we know it.
Give the commandement that instructs Jews to eat unleavened bread in Passover (7 days).
- "For a seven day period you shall eat matzos (unleavened bread). On the previous day you shall remove the leaven (fermented substances) from your homes."
- Exodus 12
What is done in Passover? What is leavened products called? What ceremony takes place?
- Home is cleaned of all bread, cakes and products that are made with leavening agents such as yeast - called chametz.
- Passover crockery and cutlery is brought out.
- Haggadah ("telling", commandement, kind of guide book on the table at Seder celebration) is read at the Seder (special meal that takes place on first and second evenings of Passover).
- The youngest person asks 4 questions and the father answers it with the Haggadah.
How long is passover? Is it a primarily home-based or synagogue-based festival?
- 8 days (perhaps 7)
- Mostly home-based. (synagogue services during Pesach are solemn occasions).
What is the significance of Passover/Pesach?
- It is the great festival of freedom - emphasis on remembering one's freedom as a Jew.
- Also emphasis on teaching and explaining to one's children, what it means to be a free person (eg. 4 questions). Importance of heritage based on the family and passing on of one's tradiditons from one generation to next. Never forgetting Jewish history.
What are the possible reasons attached to why leavened bread must not be eaten in Pesach and instead ___ is eaten.
- Matzot eaten as reminder of the haste of the Hebrews in leaving Egypt. There was no time to wait for the bread to rise.
- Also spiritual significance attached to leaven - because it makes bread rise, it has come to symbolise tendency in human being of being "puffed up" ie proud and self-reliant.
Why is Shavuot called the feast of weeks?
Because it was seven weeks after passover (Leviticus)
What does Shavuot commemorate? What did the rabbis call Shavuot?
- Commemorates the receiving of the Torah from Yahweh at Mt. Sinai.
- Rabbis called it "the season of the giving of the Torah".
What are the rituals/customs/traditions associated with Shavuot?
- Stay up all night and studying sections of the Torah and the Talmud in Tikkun Leyl Shavuot.
- Dairy foods such as cheesecake are eaten because in the scriptures, the Torah is described as being like milk and honey. (Food is symbolic in Judaism - like sweet apple and honey in Rosh Hashanah.)
- Synagogue and homes are decorated with flowers and greenery, to symbolise the legend that Mt. Sinai flowered when God gave the Torah to Moses.
What is the main significance of Shavuot?
Many Jews view Shavuot as the conclusion of Pesach. Physical freedom is now followed by spiritual freedom in the form of receiving the Torah.
Outline the practice of living in a sukkot/hut that are associated with Sukkot and explain significance.
- LIVING in (not just building) a Sukkot, or a hut for 7 days - eat and meet, even sometimes sleep in it.
- Reminds Jews of the time the Israelites lived in temporary huts as they travelled through wilderness for 40 years. + also farmers in Israel lived in booths at edge of field during harvest.
- Thus sukkot is only pilgrim festival that is both harvest and Exodus orientated.
- Living in the sukkot symbolises humans' dependence on God (eg. weather).(ps. Sukkot/booth has to be made according to kosher standards such as using specific plants to build the hut).
Apart from building and living in a booth, what other practices are associated with Sukkot?
- Extend hospitality especially to the needy. (Some Jews believe great ancestors like Abraham and Isaac partake in the festival with them). - Also charity is important.
- Shaking of the lulav (3 leafy branches in a stick) in all directions - showing God's power all over universe. (also hold etrog in other hand) (commanded in Leviticus)
- First and last days of Sukkot holy - no work is to be done, except prep of food.
Give the commandment about Sukkot. Explain its significance.
- "You shall live in booths for seven days... In order that future generations may know that I made the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt". (Leviticus 23)
- Important - like Passover, its passing on a memory, a piece of history to your children.
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