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Comparison of 2 Religions

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Assignment 1: Comparison of Two Religions

Judaism is a religion which is a set of ideas about the world and how we should live up to it. Jewish belief also centers on the idea of one God and the love that He shares with all his creations through his covenant. Jews do not have a specific set of mandatory beliefs and rituals they have to follow, but one Jewish belief is the Rambam's thirteen principles of faith. The Jews practice their faith in many ways some people go to festivals or Shabbat for prayer services to read the Torah. Others may go to temples or synagogues which are Jewish houses for prayer and studying. Most Jews practice their faith reading the Torah which is known as the Old-Testament or Tanakh.(Judaism, 1968) There are three holy books the Jews study they consist of the: Torah which is the Law, Nevi'im the Prophets and lastly Kethuvim known as the Writings. The Jews also practice their faith by obeying the 613 mitzvot as well as they could, following the Judaism Rabbinic law and rules. One example of Jews practicing their faith is celebrating Hanukkah. (Kaplan, 1932) This is basically a Christmas for Jewish people, they light up a nine-branched candle known as the menorah. They do various activities such as lighting up a candle every night and eight candles would be lit in the last evening, eating oily foods reminding them of the miracle of the oil and play games such as "dreidel" which is a game with spinning tops that includes four Hebrew letters. There are many rituals and festivals that are significant to the Judaism religion some are known as: Rosh Hashanah, the Ritual of Purification and the Shabbat. Firstly, the Shabbat is the most important ritual that the Jews observe. It is basically the Sabbath day for Jews, it happens on a Friday evening and this gives the Jews a day of rest. Blessings are recited over candles, bread, children and they enjoy aromas and spices. Rosh Hashanah is also significant to the Jews because it represents the Jewish New Year, repentance is commemorated and they have a large feast including the sounding of the shofar. Lastly, the Ritual of Purification is extremely important to the Jews this includes many things such as kosher meals, and circumcision. (Kaplan, 1932) The aim to this ritual is basically to cleanse the unclean and especially worship of the deity. One example is eating kosher meals; these are meals that are considered “clean” and fulfill the requirements of the Jewish dietary laws. Furthermore, males also get circumcised to show they are followers of God, it was a covenant between Jews and God, to stay clean and it also commands in the bible. An example is, Gen 17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant between me and you. Gen 17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. (Judaism, 1968)
Buddhism, like most other religions, originated in a particular place at a particular time, and its roots are in forms and ideas that were part of the environment in which it developed. The most important of these areas at the time of the Buddha was the valley of the Ganges River which flows from west to east across most of northern India. It was here that the great religions of India first arose and flourished. Only later did they spread to the south. In the time of the Buddha, about 500 B.C.E., this area was undergoing a period of vigorous religious development.
As with most religions, the early years of Buddhism are shrouded in obscurity. One thing is certain, however, and that is that the Sangha, the Buddhist order of monks, survived the physical death, or Parinirvana, of the Buddha. But the period between that event and the reemergence of Buddhism into the light of history around 250 B.C.E. is somewhat unclear. (Burt, 1982) Buddhist tradition holds that there was a meeting, or council, held immediately following the Buddha's death. The major concern of this meeting was to stabilize the Buddhist scriptures by coming to an agreement as to what were the accepted scriptures as spoken by the Buddha. For a variety of reasons, no such agreement seems to have been reached, although there was some general agreement on the basic message of the Buddha. This meant that to a certain extent the interpretation of what was a genuine Buddhist scripture and what was not was left up to the individual Buddhist. The study of Buddhism over the past century or so has resembled the encounter of the blind men and the elephant in many ways.(Robinson, 2006) Students of Buddhism have tended to fasten onto a small part of the tradition and assume their conclusions held true about the whole. Often the parts they have seized on have been a little like the elephant's tusks a striking, but unrepresentative, part of the whole animal. As a result, many erroneous and sweeping generalizations about Buddhism have been made, such as that it is 'negative', 'world-denying', 'pessimistic', and so forth. The Buddha was born in the Terai lowlands near the foothills of the Himalayas just inside the borders of modern-day Nepal. His people were known as the Sakyas and for this reason the Buddha is sometimes referred to as Sakyamuni or 'the sage of the Sakyas'. To his followers he is known as the Bhagavat or 'Lord'. 'Buddha' is a not a personal name but an honorific title which means 'awakened one'. The Buddha's personal name, as noted above, was Siddhattha Gotama (Sanskrit: Siddhartha Gautama). The conventional dates for the Buddha's life are 566-486 BC, although more recent research indicates that sometime around 410 BC would be a more likely date for his death. Buddhists traditionally focus on certain key events in the Buddha's career as the most important, and commemorate them in various ways in literature, myth and ritual, and pilgrimage to the sites where they took place.
The belief system of Buddhism compared to Judaism has few similarities and many contrasts. Both religions were founded from 500 to 586 years BC. Judaism originated in Egypt-Israel and Buddhism originated in India. The original founder of Judaism is believed to be Abraham and the original founder of Buddhism was Siddhartha Gotama. Neither of these religions seeks converts. Both religions believe that there was no original sin. The religion of Judaism believes in 7 commandments, the Sabbath, to honor your parents, do not kill, no adultery, do not steal, covet ones wife and do not lie. Buddhists also believe 3 of these commandments, do not kill, do not steal and do not lie, although Buddhists also believe that being unchaste and free from alcohol consumption are commandments. Contrasts in these two religions are much greater.(Robinson, 2007) Being that Jews believes in 1 God “Yahweh” or “Elohin” and Buddhists do not believe in a God, there are 3 God commandments that Jews believe that the Buddhists do not. These commandments are worshiping no other Gods, no graven images and do not use Gods name in Vain. In addition, Jews believe in the prophets Adam, Noah and Abraham, Buddhists do not believe in profits. In Judaism it is believed that there is no Devil. Buddhists believe in the Devil Mara. In the religion of Judaism it is believed that in the afterlife you go to Eden-Gahanna, whereas Buddhists believe that the goal is to escape the wheel of birth and death. Since suicide only leads to reincarnation, the only way to escape this world is to attain Nirvana, a transcendental state of consciousness which serves as an exit pass. Redemption for Judaism is prayer and study and for Buddhism it is enlightenment and elimination of passions. The place of worship for Jews is the Synagogue and for Buddhists is the Temple. The holy book for Buddhists is the Tipitaka and for Judaism it is the Torah also called the Tanah or Talmud. On the other side, the Judaism has seldom, if ever, been monolithic in practice (although it has always been monotheistic in theology), and differs from many religions in that its central authority is not vested in any person or group but rather in its writings and traditions (known as the Torah). (Kaplan, 1932) Despite this, Judaism in all its variations has remained tightly bound to a number of religious principles, the most important of which is the belief in a single, omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, transcendent God, who created the universe and continues to be involved in its governance. If belief in God in this sense is the essence of religion, then Buddhism cannot be a religion. Buddhism holds no such belief and, on the contrary, denies the existence of a creator god. And Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people who follow their own traditions. The values and history of the Jewish people are a major part of the foundation of other Abrahamic religions such as Christianity, Islam, as well as Samaritanism and the Bahá'í Faith.

Burtt, Edwin A. The Teaching of the Compassionate Buddha. 1992nd Ed. New York: Mentor, 1982.

Kaplan, Mordecai M. (1934) 1957 Judaism as a Civilization: Toward a Reconstruction of American-Jewish Life. Enl. Ed. New York: Reconstructionist Press

"Judaism." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 1968. Retrieved November 05, 2013 from

Robinson, B A. "A Brief Overview of the Life of Buddha." Religious Tolerance. 08 Jan. 2006. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 16 Apr. 2007 Retrieved on November 4, 2013 from

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