Judaism Humanity Meaning of Life


Humanity created in the divine image

People were created for a special purpose - 'so god created mankind in his own image'

Humans are not created in a physical image of God as in Judaism God is coropreal and therrfore has no physical emdoiment

image - tzelem - tzelem does not refer to physical image but to the nature of essence of a being - essence of humankind is that of God's

Rashi proposed thta the part of human nature that makes us like God lies in the fact that we have been given the power of perception - Maimonides said that by using out intellect we can discern things without use of the senses this ability makes us like god as he percieves without physical senses

'we are created  in the image of God, if you will, and we are obliged to return the favour

percieve what god wants us to - makes humankind like god - humans created in the dvine image suggests a difference between humanity and the rest of creation - special role to play within humanity

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Nefesh (life) as a divine gift

divine gift is in the concept of nefesh or soul

body and soul are separate yet co exist in human life - god gives humanity a body in order to do God's sacred work - body needs to be properly taken care of

Hoiness of life - mitzvot cover a range of commandments concerning what to do with oyur life- saadia gaon claim that without the body, the osul would be unable to do the holy work that is needed to carry out God's sacred plan

Kabbalah identifies 5 levels of the soul - nefesh being the first - the ego that is responsible for the safety and survival of the body

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Pikauch nefesh (sanctity of life)

principle that means the saving protecting and presservation of human life - 'do not do anything that endangerous your neighbour's life;

Judaism teaches that all life comes from God; therefore it is considered to be the gift of God

ovverides any other religious teaching- if the life of a person in danger - any mitzvot can be broken in order to save them - like for insance the breaking of the sabbath

'if a man do, he shall live by them - leviticus - that he shall live by them and not that he shall die by them - babylonian talmud

Talmud allows for the breaking fo the laws of the sabbath in order to save the life of another person - the jerusalem talmud states that if someone waits to consult a rabbi first when they could've just saved them then they are a murder if the person died as a result of their delay

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Nature of huamnity - Yetzer hara and yetzer hatov

'the Lord God formed man' - formed in is 'vayyizer' - according to rabbinic tradition the two consecutive letters suggest two impluses yetzer hara (Evil inclination) and yetzer hatov (good incination)

both impluses are present within each individual

Yetzer hatov infuelnces a person to follow the demadns of the mitzvot - conscience - huides the individual into making the right decision - when a boy has his bar mitzvah he is at the age where he is considered to know the difference between right and wrong

Yetzer hara - lead to acts of sin - not an evil force in of itself - come from the desires within the person themselves - talmud teaches that it is not inherently bad as it was created by god - has a poistive dimension - without the desire to satisfy some personal needs a person would never aspire to do anything

everyone has free will - personal choice over which impluse to follow - 'all is given into the hands of heaven, except one's fear of heaven'- opportuntiy for repentance - yeshuvah means return - jews rquired ot reflect upon their own misdeeds - yom kippur

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Shema and its content

Shema means hear and it is one of the first words of the prayer 'hear o isreal'

Taken from the book of Deuteronomy - moses retells the story of the jouney of the children of israel throguh the wilderness - clearation of faith

Shema prayer is the first prayer tha jewish children - taught to them by their parents rather then by the synagogue - devout jews hope that they will be able to make a final confession and recite the shema on their death beds - people who are present will recite it on their behalf

the shema prayer is also the basis for a lot of the other mitzvots

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Shema Deuteronomy

First part of the shema - Mezuuzah - 'write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates'-two passages from the torah placed the the doorpost of every room in a jewish home except for the bathroom - custom to place the mezuzah at an angle pointing inward - right side of the doorpost - according to tabbinic tradition is says that the rabbis couldn't agree whether it sohuld be veritcal or horizontal -Tefillin - 'tie them as sybols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads' -= worn as a direct commandment - two leather boxes with compartments that contain two passages from the torah - Joesph caro taught that one of the boxes to a reminder to serve the god with your mind and the other with your heart- orthodox jewish men were tefillin every morning when they prayer - opened to check the quality of the scribe every few years

2nd part - declares the jews acceptance of the commandments - ads promises of rewards and punishments - Part 3 - reffres to the tzitzit (fringes) that are on the tallit (prayer shawl) - mentions the exodus from egypt - Tzitizt are fringes that are on the corners of garments - 'tassels on the cornerns of your cardements, you will have these tassels so you will remember all the commands of the lord' - Tallit shawl worn during prayer - tallit gadol is a large robe worn around the shoulders - tallit katan is worn at all times by orthodx jews under their clothes - leave the tzitizs hanging out at the waist so they are visible

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Shema as a reinforcment of the covenant

reinforces the covenant relationship on a daily basis - expected to bey god by upholding the laws that God has given to them - follow the instuctions given to god - put them in your hearts, teach them to their childre, make them a part of their daily life and to set the commandments ever before themselves

draw upon traditions of hte past - shema provides the opporuntiy fot them to acknowledge the soverginity of the one god - carry out physical acts such as the mezuzah or the tefllin

Jonathan Sacks - importance of the word shema - key word in deuteronomy - occuring 92 times - used in the sens of what god wants from human kind

Jews are able to achieve a deeper understanding of the purpose of their lives - santified and hcosen by God to lead other nations with their knowledge - tabbi duboc says that making the world good enough for the divine presence 'can only be done through a life of torah and mitzvot

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