What is the Jewish understanding of Salvation? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 54 Old 01-06-2008, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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As a Jew, I don't remember ever hearing anything about salvation.

I now understand from a Christian point of view what salvation means.

But, what does or did it mean to the Jewish people?

I am just read 2 Samuel 11, 12 about David and his sin with Bathsheba in which he broke commandments 6-10 basically if you consider his taking of another man's wife a sort of theft (not sure if that counts), and then I read Psalm 51 which David wrote after Nathan the prophet told him how horrid his sin was in the eyes of the Lord. (I am going through a chronological Bible reading plan and it is interesting to see the things together by chronology.)

Psalm 51:12 says "Restore to me the joy of thy salvation".

From a Christian POV, the joy of salvation is related to being born again.

But, what did that refer to for David?
What was salvation to the Jews?
Salvation from what and to what and when did/does it occur?

Thank you!
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#2 of 54 Old 01-06-2008, 08:51 PM
 
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Good question. We never learned about salvation. At least not in the Christian infinite sense.

:
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#3 of 54 Old 01-06-2008, 11:07 PM
 
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Yes, I'm curious about this too...I am kind of embarrassed to say I don't know much about Judaism, at least in this sense. Kind of OT..but I'm also interested to know what the Jewish view of the afterlife is? I'm not sure where I heard it, but someone told me that some Jews do not believe in an afterlife..I had assumed that this was not true, but figured I'd better ask someone.

Bethany, crunchy Christian mom to Destiny (11) Deanna (9), and Ethan (2)

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#4 of 54 Old 01-07-2008, 12:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Jews do not believe in heaven and hell. There are some beliefs about an afterlife within some parts of Judaism, but I had never heard of them growing up in Reform Judaism. Here is an article about that belief http://www.jewfaq.org/olamhaba.htm - it says it is an Orthodox Jewish belief which is why I never heard of it.

Anyway, I would be interested in hearing from the Jewish mamas here.
I really don't ever recall hearing about salvation when I was Jewish, yet it is spoken of often in the TaNaCh. So, what did it mean to the Jewish people then? Salvation from what and for what? What does it mean to the Jewish people now?
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#5 of 54 Old 01-07-2008, 12:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, I found this in Jewfaq http://www.jewfaq.org/salvatn.htm
Quote:
Salvation from What?
The concept of salvation from sin as it is understood in Christianity has no equivalent in Judaism.

Salvation from sin is unnecessary in Judaism, because Judaism does not believe that mankind is inherently evil or sinful or in need of Divine Intervention in order to escape eternal damnation. In fact, Judaism does not even believe in eternal damnation.

Judaism recognizes that people have sinful impulses, but Judaism also recognizes that people have an inclination to do good and to be good, and that people are able to choose whether to follow the evil inclination or the good inclination.

It is within our ability to be righteous. The Torah itself says, " The word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it." (Deut. 30:14). And if we miss the mark, when we fail to fulfill the good laws that G-d has provided for us, then we can obtain forgiveness through prayer, repentance and good deeds.

When the Torah speaks of G-d as our Salvation or our Redeemer, it is not speaking of salvation or redemption from sin; rather, it speaks of salvation from the very concrete, day-to-day problems that we face, such as redemption from slavery in Egypt, or salvation from our enemies in war.
But that does not really seem to explain what David was speaking of in his psalm.
I wonder if the salvation concept changed or was kind of deleted from Judaism after Christianity gave it the "Chrisitan" meaning?
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It's also possible that that verse has a word in it with multiple translations... salvation being the one that the Christian bible uses.

I'd be interested to hear what someone with an understanding of Hebrew says.
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#7 of 54 Old 01-07-2008, 12:55 AM
 
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First, from a Jewish POV, that verse is 51:14.


Secondly, "salvation" as you mean it is an entirely ... and I do mean entirely ... Christian concept. Jews' souls don't need to be "saved." The link from jewfaq describes it very clearly.



Yishekha (the actual term) means exactly what it says: Your salvation. Being saved by you. Perhaps, saved from the consequences of the bad decision that I just made when left to my own devices, perhaps. Saved from the bad aspects of my yetzer ha'rah ('evil' inclination).

Some translate it as "your victory," referring to the victory that immediately preceded the David-Batsheva-bad-decision event (over Ammon), one view of that being that the chapter starts with a pasuk (verse) about the victory over Ammon that more sensibly might be in the previous chapter, because it was the arrogance borne of that victory that led David to make the aforementioned bad decision in re Batsheva.





You can't understand "salvation" in Judaism in the Christian way because it's not there. Not necessary. The word has its own simple meaning. Read it that way.
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#8 of 54 Old 01-07-2008, 12:56 AM
 
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Someone with more learning than I can probably answer the question more fully. But my understanding is that salvation is meant in the very literal sense as seen in this definition:

Salvation: Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil.
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Originally Posted by mamaverdi View Post
Someone with more learning than I can probably answer the question more fully. But my understanding is that salvation is meant in the very literal sense as seen in this definition:

Salvation: Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil.


Precisely. Its simple meaning. Nothin' fancy.

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As for whether Jews believe in Heaven and Hell. Well, No.

But yes.



There is the concept of The World To Come: Olam HaBah. And also a concept of Gehenom.

This article summarizes pretty well: Journey to the Next World.

Olam Habah is similar to Heaven.
And Gehenom is similar to Hell.

I say similar because they are not really equivalent. But they are concepts of good and "bad" places the soul goes after you die.

Gehenom is much more different from Hell than the Olam Habah is from Heaven, imo.

This is a great quote about Gehenom: Hell is a place God created to help us take care of the mistakes we didn't correct in this world. It is called Gehenom. But don't be afraid. It's not a place of devils and pitchforks, and it's not forever. If it is God's judgment that a person has to enter Gehenom, the maximum amount of time spent there would be one Jewish year. A person can be there a split second, an entire Jewish year, or somewhere in between.


The Reform and Conservative movements have a MUCH different stance/teaching/beliefs in some areas of Judaism than what has been held as Judaism (now called Orthodox) for a long time. So that may be the reason that you did not learn about these in Reform or Conservative sunday school.
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Originally Posted by merpk View Post
First, from a Jewish POV, that verse is 51:14.


Secondly, "salvation" as you mean it is an entirely ... and I do mean entirely ... Christian concept. Jews' souls don't need to be "saved." The link from jewfaq describes it very clearly.


Yishekha (the actual term) means exactly what it says: Your salvation. Being saved by you. Perhaps, saved from the consequences of the bad decision that I just made when left to my own devices, perhaps. Saved from the bad aspects of my yetzer ha'rah ('evil' inclination).

Some translate it as "your victory," referring to the victory that immediately preceded the David-Batsheva-bad-decision event (over Ammon), one view of that being that the chapter starts with a pasuk (verse) about the victory over Ammon that more sensibly might be in the previous chapter, because it was the arrogance borne of that victory that led David to make the aforementioned bad decision in re Batsheva.


You can't understand "salvation" in Judaism in the Christian way because it's not there. Not necessary. The word has its own simple meaning. Read it that way.
Thank you. That is interesting. I had not thought of it that way. I really just wondered about it when reading the psalm because Christians emphasize that verse and then when I read it today I wondered what it means really in the Jewish POV.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaverdi View Post
As for whether Jews believe in Heaven and Hell. Well. No. But yes.



There is the concept of The World There: Olam HaBah. But also a concept of Gehenom.

This article summarizes pretty well: Journey to the Next World.

This is a great quote about Gehenom: Hell is a place God created to help us take care of the mistakes we didn't correct in this world. It is called Gehenom. But don't be afraid. It's not a place of devils and pitchforks, and it's not forever. If it is God's judgment that a person has to enter Gehenom, the maximum amount of time spent there would be one Jewish year. A person can be there a split second, an entire Jewish year, or somewhere in between.
That is a very interesting article. I really did not know that there was a Jewish concept of hell at all. I never heard of it. Thank you for sharing it.
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#12 of 54 Old 01-07-2008, 01:31 AM
 
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mamaverdi, thanks for that link. It puts it out there pretty clearly, too.



In re the "where you get to sit in the theatre" question in the link, a relevant joke here.





Sorry, but it's getting close to Purim, it's in the air already. Gotta have a joke to start the day. No other way.
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Ok, so what the cup of salvation mean in this verse?
Ps 116:13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.

And in this verse, what is Hannah referring to?

1 Sam 2:1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.


I looked up salvation and it is mentioned a whole lot in the Psalms.
Sometimes it refers to salvation from something specific, but often times it does not seem to. Here are a few of the verses:


Ps 119:166 LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.

Ps 119:174 I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.

and I also found salvation mentioned here:

Is 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

Is 12:3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

(I checked those against my Jewish bible then I found one online.)
So, there is also these verses:

Is. 45:21 Let them stand and present their case! Indeed, let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, announced it in times gone by? Wasn't it I, ADONAI? There is no other God besides me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides me. 22 Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God; there is no other.

Is 52:17 But Isra'el, saved by ADONAI with an everlasting salvation, you will never, ever, be ashamed or disgraced.

21 Let them stand and present their case! Indeed, let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, announced it in times gone by? Wasn't it I, ADONAI? There is no other God besides me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides me. 22 Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God; there is no other.



What is being referred to here as an "everlasting salvation"?
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jesus saves; moses invests.
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#16 of 54 Old 01-07-2008, 02:08 AM
 
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Ya got no CONTEXT there. That's why it "appears" to mean something else. But WITH CONTEXT you would be able to see that it means what I posted above. Simple meaning. Nothing fancy.

Channah for instance was saved from the difficulty and distress of infertility.
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Originally Posted by mamaverdi View Post
Ya got no CONTEXT there. That's why it "appears" to mean something else. But WITH CONTEXT you would be able to see that it means what I posted above. Simple meaning. Nothing fancy.

Channah for instance was saved from the difficulty and distress of infertility.
I did read the context although I did not post it. It is kind of long.
Here is Isaiah 45

Quote:
The Complete Jewish Bible

Isaiah 45 -

1 Thus says ADONAI to Koresh, his anointed, whose right hand he has grasped, so that he subdues nations before him and strips kings of their robes, so that doors open in front of him, and no gates are barred: 2 "I will go ahead of you, levelling the hills, shattering the bronze gates, smashing the iron bars. 3 I will give you treasures hoarded in the dark, secret riches hidden away, so that you will know that I, ADONAI, calling you by your name, am the God of Isra'el. 4 It is for the sake of Ya'akov my servant, yes, for Isra'el my elect, that I call you by your name and give you a title, although you don't know me.

5 I am ADONAI; there is no other; besides me there is no God. I am arming you, although you don't know me, 6 so that those from the east and those from the west will know that there is none besides me - I am ADONAI; there is no other. 7 I form light, I create darkness; I make well-being, I create woe; I, ADONAI, do all these things. 8 "Heavens above, rain down justice; let the clouds pour it down. Let the earth open, so that salvation springs up, and justice sprouts with it. I, ADONAI, have created it." 9 Woe to anyone who argues with his maker, like potsherds lying on the ground! Does the clay ask the potter, "What are you doing?" or, "What's this you're making, that has no hands?" 10 Woe to him who asks a father, "Of what are you the father?" or who asks a woman, "To what are you giving birth?"

11 Thus says ADONAI, the Holy One of Isra'el, his Maker: "You ask for signs concerning my children? You give orders concerning the work of my hands? 12 I am the one who made the earth! I created human beings on it! I- my hands - stretched out the heavens, and directed all their number. 13 I am stirring up Koresh to righteousness, I am smoothing out all his paths. He will rebuild my city; and he will free my exiles, taking neither ransom nor bribe," says ADONAI-Tzva'ot. 14 Here is what ADONAI says: "The earnings of Egypt, the commerce of Ethiopia, and men of stature from S'va will come over to you and become yours; they will come in chains and follow you. They will prostrate themselves before you; they will pray to you: 'Surely God is with you; there is no other, other gods are nothing.'" 15 Truly, you are a God who hides himself, God of Isra'el, Savior! 16 The idol-makers will be ashamed, disgraced, all of them; they will go dishonored together. 17 But Isra'el, saved by ADONAI with an everlasting salvation, you will never, ever, be ashamed or disgraced. 18 For thus says ADONAI, who created the heavens, God, who shaped and made the earth, who established and created it not to be chaos, but formed it to be lived in: "I am ADONAI; there is no other. 19 I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness. I did not say to the descendants of Ya'akov, 'It is in vain that you will seek me.' I, ADONAI, speak rightly; I say what is true.

20 Assemble, come and gather together, you refugees from the nations! Those carrying their wooden idols are ignorant, they pray to a god that cannot save. 21 Let them stand and present their case! Indeed, let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, announced it in times gone by? Wasn't it I, ADONAI? There is no other God besides me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides me. 22 Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God; there is no other. 23 In the name of myself I have sworn, from my mouth has rightly gone out, a word that will not return - that to me every knee will bow and every tongue will swear 24 about me that only in ADONAI are justice and strength." All who rage against him will come to him ashamed, 25 but all the descendants of Isra'el will find justice and glory in ADONAI.
I still do not understand what is meant by an "everlasting salvation" or "look to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth".

I have read the context of the verses I posted and the word salvation or saved in them does not seem to refer to a specific situation.
It is used a lot and I wonder if it had some sort of symbolic meaning or something because there are times when the use of salvation, saved and savior do not refer to being saved from a specific enemey at that point.

It is used a lot in Psalms in that way and I know that the Psalms were poetry.
Was there some other meaning of salvation at that time?
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#18 of 54 Old 01-07-2008, 02:34 AM
 
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No. You don't have the context. What is Dovid doing when writing that poetry? He's hiding in caves from enemies: live enemies.

You have to have the extra-textual knowledge to understand it. The Tanach does not exist without the Oral Tradition. It doesn't make sense at all in the Jewish context.

I haven't learned enough to point out every part and say: this is the context. Plus, I don't know off the top of my head which word is used in the Hebrew.

It's unanswerable the way you are asking. Sorry. We don't need more of an English translation of what's there. We need the Hebrew and the extra-textual information to know the whole CONTEXT of the text.

The Torah/Tanach were NEVER meant to be read alone. It's too confusing...for lack of a better word.


And I'm answering this almost more from a literary criticism POV rather than a religious POV. That is where I have more learning and understanding at this point.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christianmomof3 View Post
Ok, so what the cup of salvation mean in this verse?
Ps 116:13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.

And in this verse, what is Hannah referring to?

1 Sam 2:1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.


I looked up salvation and it is mentioned a whole lot in the Psalms.
Sometimes it refers to salvation from something specific, but often times it does not seem to. Here are a few of the verses:


Ps 119:166 LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.

Ps 119:174 I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.

and I also found salvation mentioned here:

Is 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

Is 12:3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

(I checked those against my Jewish bible then I found one online.)
So, there is also these verses:

Is. 45:21 Let them stand and present their case! Indeed, let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, announced it in times gone by? Wasn't it I, ADONAI? There is no other God besides me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides me. 22 Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God; there is no other.

Is 52:17 But Isra'el, saved by ADONAI with an everlasting salvation, you will never, ever, be ashamed or disgraced.

21 Let them stand and present their case! Indeed, let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, announced it in times gone by? Wasn't it I, ADONAI? There is no other God besides me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides me. 22 Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God; there is no other.



What is being referred to here as an "everlasting salvation"?
I honestly can't remember what I learned about specific verses, but the overall feeling I get from my memory of being raised in Judaism and what some at least of those psalms were about were actual things that happened to actual individuals or tribes.

I don't know if that makes sense or makes it more clear, but to me that is how I would have read them. I don't read them with the Christian twist as I just am not accustomed to it IYKWIM. Someone who knows more about the actual stories and that will have better insight, but in my memory that is all they are referring to.
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As for the question re: the Jewish vision of heaven and/or hell.

I was taught as follows: the neshama (soul) goes back to Hashem (G-d) when the body dies. Hashem is the essence of goodness, justice, and everything pure. If the person was righteous, that proximity to G-d is paradise. If the person was evil, the soul's proximity to G-d is intensely hellish.

Hashem provides for the soul to be able to do "rectification" of itself. We do believe in "reincarnation" (for lack of a better English term) -- whereby the soul gets the opportunity to rectify itself again in this world.

That rectification can also be done in "Gehennom", as was said by pp.

Obviously noone knows the "exact" mechanism, but it has to do with the mitzvos and aveiros (sins) the neshama/person did in this world.

If Merpk or another Jewish mama wants to correct me/add on I'm always open, but that is how I was taught (when I became Torah-observant).

 "Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible." (William Shakespeare -- Julius Caesar)

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As for the question re: the Jewish vision of heaven and/or hell.

I was taught as follows: the neshama (soul) goes back to Hashem (G-d) when the body dies. Hashem is the essence of goodness, justice, and everything pure. If the person was righteous, that proximity to G-d is paradise. If the person was evil, the soul's proximity to G-d is intensely hellish.

Hashem provides for the soul to be able to do "rectification" of itself. We do believe in "reincarnation" (for lack of a better English term) -- whereby the soul gets the opportunity to rectify itself again in this world.

That rectification can also be done in "Gehennom", as was said by pp.

Obviously noone knows the "exact" mechanism, but it has to do with the mitzvos and aveiros (sins) the neshama/person did in this world.

If Merpk or another Jewish mama wants to correct me/add on I'm always open, but that is how I was taught (when I became Torah-observant).

That's so interesting!
So in Judaism the only prerogative to get into Heaven is being righteous and following the commandments? Is being Jewish important or does everyone have a chance to go to heaven as long as their are good with God?
Disclaimer: I'm not asking this question so I can turn around and start pushing my own ideas and beliefs, I really am interested to know.
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Jews don't live for a chance to go to heaven.
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Originally Posted by orangebird View Post
Jews don't live for a chance to go to heaven.
mmm, okay, this is not the type of short and dry answer I was hoping for, but I'll take it.
So, care to elaborate? Do they live for this life only?
ETA: don't they want to be with God when they die?
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#24 of 54 Old 01-07-2008, 11:48 PM
 
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From what I understand, everyone has the chance. It's just that Jews have 613 commandments and gentiles have 7. This is VERY brief and not the best way of answering but I'm used to typing with two hands and one hand is currently holding a nursing baby, B"H.

Jews do want to be "with Hashem" (for lack of better phrasing) in the next world but that's NOT the main reason we do things in this world.
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From what I understand, everyone has the chance. It's just that Jews have 613 commandments and gentiles have 7. This is VERY brief and not the best way of answering but I'm used to typing with two hands and one hand is currently holding a nursing baby, B"H.

Jews do want to be "with Hashem" (for lack of better phrasing) in the next world but that's NOT the main reason we do things in this world.
Thank you so much for clarifying! When you hands are free, I have more questions:
What is the Judaism's POV for those Jews who do not follow the 613 commandments? What if they basically just try to follow the 10 commandments given but not specifics like Kosher food? Is there a punishment or are the 10 commandments the most important ones? Sorry if I sound ignorant.
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#26 of 54 Old 01-08-2008, 04:36 AM
 
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My understanding of the "heaven" thing is it's analogous to a ladder. The top of the ladder is, well, the highest place you can get ("high" being descriptive in a spiritual sense, not in a latitude/geographic sense). Everyone everyone everyone in the world, whatever religious belief, gets on the ladder. And every soul in the world ends up at the top of the ladder eventually. As Nic'berry said, if the soul isn't spiritually ready for the top of the ladder then it returns to this life (reincarnated) to fix whatever it can fix, so that the next time it's separated from a body, it'll hopefully be higher up on the ladder ... and if it's not at the top, well, it comes back again (reincarnated) etc., etc., etc.


Every person's place on the ladder is dependent on his or her own deeds. For Jews, the way up the ladder is through mitzvos. For others, they have their own way up the ladder.


But everyone goes up. It's just a question of how long it takes to get there.




I hard something similar, Nic, about the idea of gehennom/hell ... that for a soul so damaged as to be "evil," proximity to the One/G!d/UltimateGood would be torture/hell.




I heard something else once ... that in olam ha'bah you review your immediately preceding life ... and as much negativity and missed-potential that you had in your life, reviewing that negativity and seeing all the missed potential that you squandered, that's hell.






Jews don't do the "burning flames of hell" stuff. Not our shtick.
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#27 of 54 Old 01-08-2008, 09:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Janelovesmax View Post
Thank you so much for clarifying! When you hands are free, I have more questions:
What is the Judaism's POV for those Jews who do not follow the 613 commandments? What if they basically just try to follow the 10 commandments given but not specifics like Kosher food? Is there a punishment or are the 10 commandments the most important ones? Sorry if I sound ignorant.
The Torah and its mitzvos are, for the Jewish people, the blueprint for life and the way we are destined and commanded to emulate and strive to be more "like" Hashem.

In certain cases (certain very specific behaviors/mitzvos) there are "punishments" -- spiritual "excision" from the community, etc.

However those behaviors are very specific and require the Oral Torah (Mishnah/Talmud) to understand properly, with the help of a qualified Torah scholar (rabbi) whose life is learning and studying Torah.

Many of the 613 mitzvos we cannot do properly in these days because we have no Bais HaMikdash (Temple) in Jerusalem. Those mitzvos include (but are not limited to) the korbanos (sacrifices) as well as aliya l'regel (going to Jerusalem for the 3 festivals -- Sukkos, Pesach, Shavuos).

Other mitzvos are not applicable to those who live outside Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) -- for example, this year (Jewish year) is the Shmitta year -- the 7th year -- in which Torah observant farmers in Israel do not work the land and there are many, many detailed rules about how fruit, vegetables, trees, and all growing things that grow in Israel are to be handled, eaten, and discarded.

Other mitzvos -- like kashrus, Shabbos, shatnez (the rules about clothing fiber mixtures) etc. are incumbent upon every single Jew. Are there "punishments" for not observing them? Not in this world that you can see. But in distancing yourself (general yourself here, not specific) by not doing them -- by eating nonkosher food, not observing Shabbos, etc. -- you are in essence distancing yourself from Hashem and your true purpose in life as a Jew. You are adding spiritual "calluses" so to speak -- to your neshama. You also remove yourself from the Jewish community by not doing mitzvos that would make you closer to klal Yisroel (the people of Israel) -- which then makes it even more difficult to do those mitzvos. It's an unfortunate cycle.

As Merpk explained, the "hellfires" thing is not our shtick. We as Jews are given a mission (this is the "chosen" thing) to bring kedusha (holiness) into the world by doing the mitzvos that Hashem gave us in the Torah. That is our purpose as Jews. When we bring kedusha down into the world, we bring out more of Hashem's Divine spark and in doing so bring ourselves and the world closer to the ultimate redemption ("geula"). I suppose that ultimately, that is our real view of the idea of "salvation."

Every time a Jew does a mitzva, that Jew brings more kedusha into the world and more of that divine spark. Every time a Jew goes against a mitzva or commits an aveira (sin), that neshama and the world gets a little farther from Hashem's essence. So that would be the "punishment."

 "Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible." (William Shakespeare -- Julius Caesar)

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#28 of 54 Old 01-08-2008, 10:30 AM
 
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Nicka explained it beautifully, but I wanted to add that it is hard to explain when every word demands additional explanation. For instance, "sin" as English speakers understand it is a Christian concept. The Jewish equivalent means more like "missing the mark". You won't go to "hell" because of "bad aim" - you just need to work on fixing it.

But really, Rabbis don't sermonize about the afterlife much. What's the point? No one really knows for sure what it's all about. The best we can do is metaphors. Instead, most teachers/Rabbis* spend countless hours going into excruciating detail about how to live this life: how and when to light Hannukah candles, whether it is permissible to put on handcream on Shabbat, what constitutes gossip, etc. The point is to sanctify this life (I recommend Kusher's book "To Life") not be good for the sake of the next one.

(This is a parody of Jewish laws: Imagine if there was a halacha for Christmas.http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/R...ther/xmas.html)

*In traditional/observant settings, that is. My personal experience of growing up in a Reform "Temple" was that the Rabbi spent a lot of time on current events and bestseller books. He would have been booed off his bima (lectern) if he actually discussed anything textual. Not that I don't fall asleep myself during classes on the intricacies of certain laws... especially if it's in Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic with commentaries written in Rashi script...
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#29 of 54 Old 01-08-2008, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Nicka, that was a great explanation! Thank you.
Lookmommy, I also understand what you are saying having been raised in Reform Judaism myself.

I guess the reason I asked the question is that I never read the Bible until I became a Christian and I really never knew that salvation was even mentioned in the Old Testament, having never heard anything about it at all in the Jewish religion.

My understanding of Salvation is not related to death only, but also to life.
I don't buy the heaven and hell stuff either - partly due to my upbringing in Judaism I imagine.

Here is a site that explains salvation very well. http://www.godssalvation.org/overview/index.html
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#30 of 54 Old 01-08-2008, 11:51 AM
 
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My understanding of the "heaven" thing is it's analogous to a ladder. The top of the ladder is, well, the highest place you can get ("high" being descriptive in a spiritual sense, not in a latitude/geographic sense). Everyone everyone everyone in the world, whatever religious belief, gets on the ladder. And every soul in the world ends up at the top of the ladder eventually. As Nic'berry said, if the soul isn't spiritually ready for the top of the ladder then it returns to this life (reincarnated) to fix whatever it can fix, so that the next time it's separated from a body, it'll hopefully be higher up on the ladder ... and if it's not at the top, well, it comes back again (reincarnated) etc., etc., etc.


Every person's place on the ladder is dependent on his or her own deeds. For Jews, the way up the ladder is through mitzvos. For others, they have their own way up the ladder.


But everyone goes up. It's just a question of how long it takes to get there.




I hard something similar, Nic, about the idea of gehennom/hell ... that for a soul so damaged as to be "evil," proximity to the One/G!d/UltimateGood would be torture/hell.




I heard something else once ... that in olam ha'bah you review your immediately preceding life ... and as much negativity and missed-potential that you had in your life, reviewing that negativity and seeing all the missed potential that you squandered, that's hell.






Jews don't do the "burning flames of hell" stuff. Not our shtick.

Meprk, thank you very very much for your explanation. I find it fascinating and interesting. :-)
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