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Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 1 decade ago

jews: why is judism respectable (read)?


why doesn't judism push its beliefs on others-

among the abrahamic religions only judism sees fit to act respectfull of other faiths and beliefs or non beliefs and (correct me if i'm wrong) actually goes the extra mile to keep other people OUT of the religion by making it difficult to convert.

isn't judism the smallest sect of all three?

so why not market and push your views onto others? is there something in your religious doctrines and upbringing that is not included in islam and christianity?

what i want to know is that if you worship the same sky fairy, ultimately it must be something in your reliigious worship rites that is different, is there some "don't prosthelytize".

i know you get offended at the slightest joke from a non jew, but thats another issue and a far cry from actually forcing others to buy into your unproven belief system.


i'm actually really curious because it seems odd that in this respect you are lumped in with other non monotheistic or more spiritual religions like buddism, wicca, etc. whenever i make that distinction as a responce to tell a christian or muslim not to push thier views on others.

Update 2:

abriel- i just read the noahide laws and most of them except not killing or murdering and setting up a fair system of justice are pretty messed up.

i mean who defines what is sexually promiscuous? a society that has no relevance today based on social norms of 1000 years ago?

ok- i get the reason for inclusion of the god related stuff, but thats still silly.

and not eating the flesth of a living animal? whats wrong with eating a bug? or who cares if the animal is dead or not.

i'll admit- its better than the other two, but still pretty off base to me. at least you don't push the reliigon on others.

Update 3:


"If you don't care whether a mammal you're eating is still alive, you're remarkably elitist in your views of the world - more like the right-wing Christian notions of 'dominion over the animals' as in "we don't care about animals" than what I would have expected from an atheist."

i'm an atheist- not a vegan- and the version of the laws i read (as better explained by cher) tended to indicate vegetariansim or veganism- something that i'm against for the purpose of spirituality since it leads to unhealthy eating habits and malnutrition (vegetarians who are "spiritual" as opposed to healthfull tend to have these issues and not make sure they get the proper nutrients for health equal to an omnivorous diet), veganism in the long term is at BEST irresponsible- at worst well it could cause severe health problems in all but the most limited of circumstances (when a person has a medical condition that that diet could help with- not to be used as a fad or spiritual eating habit).

Update 4:

as for my problem with the "adultry" requirement-

i don't feel it is god or any religions place to determine what is "adultry" between two consenting adults, the bond of trust and betrayal of that trust is between two consenting adults in a relationship and since relationships and the definition of "fidelity" vary from culture to culture it is extremely ethnocentric to regulate it- personally i would not be in an "open" relationship for example, but i know people who are- and it is not god (for arguments sake for this point i'll take the jewish point that there is a god)-

the "adultry" requirement is simply a way to keep women from screwing around for inheritance purposes to ensure that the child is in fact the fathers and that a white couple is not surprised when the mom gives birth to a black baby for example (to point out an obvious case of infidelity).

but these days those things are obsolete and god has no more place in the bedroom than the government. IMO

Update 5:

"Anti-Semites use this as a proof that Jews hate others- why else would we make it so difficult to convert? Some go so far as to claim that conversion is not allowed, or that converts are somehow inferior to those born Jewish."

actually i didn't assume that at all- i assumed that it was for exactly that reason since if it were the other way around, judism would have more of a restriction on mingling with other folks like the scam known as scientology does in thier ideas of disassociating with non-scientologists including family, friends children and spouces (presumably because they would talk sense into you into leaving the alleged "religion").

however i didn't speculate it or state it since i'm sure you saw what your 2nd grade teacher did with the word "assume" on the blackboard right?

10 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Side note: Darkvel is quite incorrect. That idea of "chosen" being limited & special is actually a Christian change to the Jewish approach (which Jews are then bashed for). The Jewish approach is that God offered to everyone & they were powerful enough not to be interested, & only finally the Jews chose Judaism & Torah. But other nations have their value & roles!!

    The ethnicity too misses the from the beginning as Jews left Egypt, others tagged along & joined in. Moses's wife was from another peoples, as were a number of other famous Torah characters.

    The bloodline thing about Judaism is apparently taught to Christians (I've heard it from them), but it is NOT part of Judaism!!!


    There are a few reasons for the difference.

    One, Judaism was developed as a spirituality for a particular group of people, & though available to others even from the beginning.... it was never cooped as part of an empire building. Judaism from the get go saw itself as right for Jews but needing to live sucessfully with other peoples.

    Two, it was always a rag tag small group of people. It's #3 only by the importance everyone else gives it. It's only 14 million people worldwide.

    Third, that ragtag group always saw itself as searching for freedoms for themselves & rights for everyone... so it didn't try to set up contradictions to that. For instance, Judaism believes God can have a relationship with anyone & is NOT exclusive to Judaism (just a different not-Jewish relationship, i.e. the right relationship for THEM.0 This is different than Christianity & Islam that have exclusivity built only go to heaven if you are follower or you get special privileges.

    Fourth, Judaism is a religion about how to live THIS life, not focused on afterlife. So there's a lot more motivation to focus inward & a lot less to sell the good news to someone else. When God said Jews would be a light unto the nations, it was taken as being a light by working on bringing forth these morality concepts (such as not throwing your children into fires to worship God). It wasn't assumed that others had to do the same, only that by example others would pick up on stuff that worked.

    Fifth, from a religious view, Judaism requires following 613 commandments, so it isn't in Judaism's interest to ask others to convert to something that is a harder task than what they are required already which is just the 7 Noahide laws. Those 7 laws are basically a subset of the 10 commandments.

    Sixth, not quite on topic, but a big difference from other religons... Judaism does not claim to be revealed by anyone human. It was given to ALL Jews (& a bunch of non-Jews who had come along to join), at Mt. Sinai by God. While Moses was heavily involved, Judaism does NOT hold that it came as revelation to Moses but that it came straight from God for all to witness. That change, changes the dynamics & feel of the religion (once you think about it). For one, it reinforces the democratic, everyone in touch with it, sense. There is then less need to prove it, or sell it. Everyone got it at once & gave it to their kids. Just an interesting twist.



    Note we don't go around telling people to be Noahide compliant either. We offer it to people who ask for Jewish regs on non-Jewish folks.... But ultimately we still hold that WE don't decide or know. We think this is what God said in Torah, but if you are righteous in God's eyes THAT's what counts & we don't get to judge it.

    Flesh of a live animal -- it used to be common to cut a piece of meat off your livestock & bandage it to you could have a bit for your dinner. That is gross & all the better in my opinion to cut out (well, to stop doing).

    IMPORTANTLY, you've only read ONE interpretation of Noahide & it's a very old one. There are many ways to interpret them & they aren't that clearly stated in Torah.... so what seems inappropriate to you, may well not be in some other interpretation. THAT is a key aspect to why Judaism winds up tolerant. We are so used to multiple interpretations & debating them, & encourage it.... that we wind up fine with listening to other people's views & interpretations too, actually intrigued by other views.

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  • 1 decade ago

    From my blog:

    I have had a number of conversations with people over the years with them raising the issue of how difficult it is to convert to Judaism. Anti-Semites use this as a proof that Jews hate others- why else would we make it so difficult to convert? Some go so far as to claim that conversion is not allowed, or that converts are somehow inferior to those born Jewish. The reality- we are forbidden from treating converts any differently to those born Jewish and they are as holy as anyone else in Israel. You want proof? Ruth, the great grandmother of King David was a convert, a Moabitess- and from her we will eventually have the Mashiach, our ultimate redeemer.

    So, whats the big deal? Why do Jews make it such a big deal to convert? Why the tradition of turning people away three times, hoping they won’t come back? You see- converting others isn’t just about them- it has implications to the person who does the conversion! Converting others to Judaism is actually a massive responsibility for the person who is doing the conversion- and an activity which can lead them to erring and sinning themselves! Why? There is a commandment “Do not place as tumbling block before the blind” Its easy enough to understand at a literal level, but at a deeper level it also means to not do something that will cause another person to err and thus be worse off than they were before.

    Where this comes into play is as follows: Everyone, regardless of religion, has a path to righteousness and a place in the world to come. For the non-Jews, if they behave in a manner that is in line with the 7 Noahide laws, then they will be righteous and merit a place in the world to come- for Jews, it is through the 613 commandments.

    So, coming back to the first point- what is easier, to follow 7 laws or 613 laws? Its a no brainer- 7 laws are much easier to follow. So, when we convert somebody, we are giving them an additional 606 laws that previously did not apply to them previously. Its not just a stumbling block- its a concrete barrier across the road! The person doing the conversion has to educate the convertee well enough that they will know enough about the laws to undertake to follow them, and know how to do so at a practical level- if they don’t, the person is going to err and thus the teacher is in violation of the commandment!

    So making sure someone is serious about conversion is imperative. Turning people away, testing their commitment through lengthy classes and immersion into Judaism; testing their desire, and commitment thus becomes an essential part of the process- ensuring their, and their future teachers, spiritual health. If the person is not serious, and the teacher has not tested them, the teacher is in violation of the commandment and, additionally, has caused another person to sin. If the person is serious- then it is a massive mitzvah to bring them into Judaism.

    Source(s): Orthodox Jew
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Others gave good answers, but the simple answer is actually rather simple:

    Judaism is the religion for the Jews.

    If someone really wants to, and proves they're dedicated, then they'll be allowed to join and will be considered as Jewish as anyone else. Since it's only for the Jews though, we have no reason (and are generally prohibited) to try and get people to convert. We have our religion, they have theirs, the righteous will go 'heaven' regardless, and we don't really have a 'hell' either. ('heaven' and 'hell' are in semi-quotes because the terms don't actually apply to Judaism, it'd be like calling the Hindu concept of Nirvana 'heaven', there are parallels, but it's not really accurate at all.)

    Also as previously mentioned, as per Jewish theology, Jews are obligated in 613 commandments, non-Jews in 7. If another religion doesn't follow the 7 Noahide Laws, then they're a rather objectively immoral society.

    1.Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before G-d.

    2.Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder.

    3.Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal.

    4.Prohibition of Sexual Promiscuity: You shall not commit any of a series of sexual prohibitions, which include adultery, incest, bestiality, etc. (the list can be a bit extensive, and there's some debate on it, such as if castration is on it)

    5.Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme G-d's name.

    6.Dietary Law: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive.

    7.Requirement to have just Laws: You shall set up an effective judiciary to enforce the preceding six laws fairly and any others needed for society to function.

    Rules 2,3, and 7 (murder, theft, and having laws) can easily be understood as a necessary moral basis for any society

    Rule 4 (sexual 'promiscuity') shouldn't need much explanation, it's pretty obvious how that would be generally harmful to society as a whole and individual relationships specifically.

    Rule 6 (eating of a living animal) is just general compassion. The classic example is that since a cow has a lot of meat on it, more then could be eaten at once or be preserved in previous time periods, people would cut off one leg, cauterize the wound, leave it alive and later chop off another leg, and so forth until they finished the cow. When explained that way, again, more explanation really isn't necessary.

    Rule 5 (blasphemy) if you believe in G-d then this is obvious too. If you don't believe in G-d, then it should still be pretty obvious that it'd be rude and degenerative to a society (especially one with people that do believe in G-d) to say negative things about G-d. Would you consider a society moral if it condones mocking the sincere beliefs of others just because they are beliefs, just because you don't happen to agree with them?

    Rule 1 (Idolatry) again, if you believe in G-d then this is obvious. If you don't, then this won't come up, and it's moot.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Cher's given you a great answer. I just want to emphasise that the key point is that we don't believe our way is the only way. We accept that other people have different paths. Christians and Muslims believe it's their duty to proselytise and get people into their religion because they think they're doing them a service and saving them from everlasting hell. We don't even believe there is such a place as hell; and we don't think you have to be Jewish to get a good deal all round and in any case have very little thought about an afterlife - we're concerned with the here and now and trying to make the world a better place for all who are in it (like many atheists, agnostics and humanists).

    We don't get "offended at the slightest joke from a non-Jew". We just get offended by anti-semitism. Until you've lived as a Jew, you maybe don't realise quite how much of it there is.

    I'm unclear why you find the Noahide laws so problematic. Sure, dump all the god stuff if that's your bag but I really don't see your problem with issues around respect for sexual partners. This isn't about norms from 1000 years ago (a weird date to pick anyway, since the basis of the religion is 3500 years ago). It's about a sense of commitment to those with whom you might have children, and those who care about you - don't betray people. Don't you subscribe to such morality? And you're taking it rather deliberately stupidly if you think that not eating the flesh of a living animal is about bugs. If you don't care whether a mammal you're eating is still alive, you're remarkably elitist in your views of the world - more like the right-wing Christian notions of 'dominion over the animals' as in "we don't care about animals" than what I would have expected from an atheist.

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  • Abriel
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Jews don't believe that our way is the only way to G-d's kingdom or having a place in the World to Come. Jews believe that everyone, even gentiles, are G-d's children and have a place in the World to Come, as G-d is all forgiving and loves everyone the way they are. That's why Jews feel no need to proselytize. In fact we actively discourage people from seeking out conversion because there is so much responsibility involved in being a Jew. Gentiles only have to adhere to the Noahide Laws, of which there are 7...Jews have to fulfill many more mitzvot than that, not always 613 depending on what branch but enough.

    ETA: Actually the sexual law is a law against sexual perversions such as pedophilia, incest, bestiality, and rape. Most translations translate it as that and not necesarily promiscuity.

    The law against eating the flesh off a living animal is an injunction against animal cruelty. It goes in line with Kosher food laws. If you eat animals you need to make sure it dies first, a quick clean painless death. Do not cause needless suffering to animals. Judaism holds firm respect for the welfare of animals.

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  • 4 years ago

    The reason us jews don't believe jesus is the Messiah. in our bible (the torah) it says that "when the Messiah comes all the people of the world shall set aside our differences and join hands". when that did not happen the followers of christ split apart (notice followers of christ not yet christians) some of the followers went back to whatever religion they where in before the started following him. the others said that since the people of the world did not join hands their must be a second coming (note: this was invented by the great-great-great-great grandchildren of the people who lived when christ was alive.) so then became the christian religion that christ would return one day and the people become friends and stuff. however use jews say that it says nothing about a second coming but that when he/she arrives every one will be friends and join hands and stuff, so that must mean that he is not the Messiah. and so we are still looking for the Messiah while christians believe they found him PS. maybe christians are right maybe we are right maybe some other religion is right. i am writing this from a jewish point of view so don't get offended or anything

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  • Thanks for realising that Judaism is different from Christianity and Islam. It's quite frustrating to see it chucked in for blanket criticism on traits that belong to something else.

    Cher has done a great job of addressing the positive side of Jewish attitudes towards others, so I'm going to turn your question on its head because that's phenomenologically more accurate -- why are Christianity and Islam different?

    It's not that Judaism is special, but that it belongs to the vast majority of religions which are not 'universalist'. That's a term used to describe the three religions which see their beliefs as applicable to everyone -- Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. Most religions, Judaism included, simply don't see their beliefs as applicable to everyone.

    That makes sense in the context in which Judaism developed, a very crowded region with cultures and subcultures all crammed in together, jostling for space and trying to keep their identities intact.

    In contrast, Christianity and Islam both developed as the chosen religion of military superpowers that conquered continents and sought to unite them under one aegis. Their theologies reflect this model, including the elevation of martyrdom (sacrificing and dying for the cause) and subservience to the ruling authority. The spread of those empires gave their religions' characteristics the appearance of being normative.

    In terms of proper comparative religion, they're not.

    Source(s): You included setting up courts of justice in your list of Noahide laws you find acceptable. Right there is the basis for your decision-making process on how to understand the parameters of the other six.
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  • 1 decade ago

    That's what's so intriguing about it. It is wide open to converts but only for people who have done some thinking and soul searching.

    @ Darkvel: The secret club reference is just silly.

    @ Cher & Abriel: Well said! Thanks

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  • 1 decade ago

    we don't feel the need to beg others to join us

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  • 1 decade ago

    Jews do not proselytize because they believe that their people as an ethnic group were chosen by God. The original Jews of the Middle East did not push their beliefs upon originally non-Jewish people - the Ashkenazi, Sephardim, and other non-Middle Eastern Jews spread Judaism by birth blood.

    Think of it like the divine right of kings. People claimed the right to rule in Europe because they claimed to be direct descendants of the 12 apostles. Jews believe they are part of a special bloodline that is favored by God. They're not letting anyone into the secret club willingly.

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