Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Eternal Jew



[Jewish boy praying]

I don’t believe that any culture or religion is as ancient or has been as stable as Judaism.

The name “Israel” is first found mentioned about 1210 BCE.

Israel Finkelstein, no friend of Orthodoxy, writes in his book “The Bible Unearthed” page 119 that from about 1150 BCE until 586 BCE, no pork was raised in the villages of the highlands of Palestine. (According to rabbinical tradition, the Israelite invasion of Palestine took place in 1273 BCE.) This is the earliest archeological evidence of Jewish observance.

Based upon the Mishnah, we know that a Jew living in Palestine 2,000 years ago could enter an Orthodox synagogue today and have virtually no difficulty joining in with the services. The phylacteries worn today and the Bible read from today are the same as some found in the Dead Sea caves.

Today the Orthodox Jewish population stands at about two million, and growing.

What’s truly incredible is that throughout this entire period, Jews have been constantly attacked and persecuted. The above-mentioned inscription from 1210 BCE tellingly reads “Israel is laid waste, its seed is not”. Jews have been hated since literally the first day of Jewish history and endless attempts have been made to annihilate the relatively small and helpless Jewish community. Why have these attempts always been unsuccessful? And, more surprisingly, why have the Jews bothered to be different?

In my humble opinion, the answer is quite simple.

There are an infinite possible number of false religions. There are 4,200 religions in the world today. Surely thousands more have existed in the past. More will exist in the future most probably. False religions come and go according to people’s preferences, whims and temperaments.

However, there can be only one true religion, and there will always be some honest people in the world who will embrace that religion in spite of all sacrifice. This is why Judaism is the eternal religion.

22 comments:

Spike said...

It seems that the Australian Aborigines have had a consistent culture and belief system since 7,000 bp. This beats Judaism by some 6000 years. Still, nice try. I look forward to your conversion.

Also, do you believe that small changes to a population can evolve over time?

Aubrey said...

My comment isn't for this specific post, but I wanted to let you know that your blog is such a relief to see after having encountered ones like FailedMessiah and JewishAthiest. Please keep this up, somehow your posts always relate to where I'm having trouble, and they help to inspire me when I get sucked back into secular life. I'm a baalat teshuva hoping to go to seminary in Yerushalayim IY"H in a year, and the changes I'm making in my life shift between exhilerating, stifling, and a middle-ground of overwhelming. Sometimes I get nervous and wonder if I'm going in the right direction but coming across inspiring stories like yours help a lot.

badrabbi said...

Jews do rock! MY only comment is try not to forget the many other million Jews who are not orthodox.

yitz.. said...

umm i don't think you can say truly and philosophically, that there can be only one true religion.

I mean you could say it. but saying it doesn't make it true. even if you believe there is one God.

Just pointing out a technical point.

jewish philosopher said...

First of all, aubrey, thanks for your support. It's really really appreciated, and good luck.

Spike, since the aborigines were illiterate until recently, how do you know what they believed 7,000 years ago? And today almost none seem to believe in their ancestral religion.

Yitz, most religions contradict each other and aren't really compatible. Maybe Litvaks and Yekkes are. ;-)

Spike said...

Cave Paintings. Almost none is more than none.

jewish philosopher said...

Spike, any source for that, that aboriginal cave paintings made today are the same type as those made 7,000 year ago? And that this has been a continuous tradition?

Spike said...

Well, all the aboriginals agree that this is true, and they can't all be lying can they? After all, the Kuzari principle says that this is so.

As regards sources: Wikipedia on Rainbow Serpent and more here and here.

jewish philosopher said...

We do know that native Australians have been drawing pictures of snakes for thousands of years, however we have no way of knowing if the same beliefs were always associated with them.

Bear in mind that native Australians represent 400 separate language groups and cultures.

Therefore, I think it is still reasonable to say "no culture or religion is as ancient or has been as stable as Judaism".

Spike said...

Australia covers the same area as Europe (excluding Russia). That there are only 400 distinct groups of aboriginals is a remarkable tribute to the stability of their culture. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to say that you may not have considered all of the facts before leaping to the conclusion you want to draw.

jewish philosopher said...

You know throwing metal objects into bodies of water is a European tradition going back thousands of years and continuing in American shopping malls today. It might be stretching it a little to call this an "ancient stable religion".

The Australian snakes may be something on that level, spanning different times, languages, religions and cultures.

Spike said...

And the torah may be entirely the creation of people. What is your point?

badrabbi said...

wow, I can link things now!

zw said...

Aubrey -

If you are considering seminary in Eretz Yisrael, I'm going to put in a plug for Tomer Devorah which is run by a good friend, Rabbi Moshe Rosenstein. Of course, you'll have to determine for yourself how good of a fit they are for you.

Steve said...

I would think Hinduism is a fairly good candidate too for the world's oldest religion, and as far as I understand it there are more than a few Hindus around. Zoroastrianism seems to have endured for some tine now too. This kind of argument (judging the 'truth' of a religion by its longevity) seems pointless to me, and only really stands up if you pick your facts selectively. What is amazing about the continuity of the Jewish religion is that as relevant in the 21st century as it was in the 1st century, not that it's unchanged (which is of course not the case).

jewish philosopher said...

It would seem that Zoroaster did not pre-date Moses and Hinduism seems to be a culture, not really a single religion.

Steve said...

Well -- NOW I am convinced! You should try that line on a Hindu person and see what response you get.

Spike said...

Surely, by that token, Judaism is a culture, not really a religion. But i forget, if the evidence is against your position, it alright to ignore it. After all, you are one of the "chosen" people, and therefore _must_ be right.

jewish philosopher said...

You see, the question is, after 3,000 plus years of persecution, dispersion and exile, Jews are still plodding along being Jews. Why?

Steve said...

That is the question. Whether the answer speaks to the "truth" of Judaism is another debate.

If you actually looked at the history of the religion, you'll notice that every period of persecution or tolerance resulted in new ideas finding their way into Judaism.

Spike -- there's a lot of misunderstanding about the term 'chosen people'. Chosen in this sense is more "thanks for the opportunity" than "we are inherently superior". Jews were chosen for the revelation of the Torah, which imposes an enormous set of responsibilities in terms of ethical standards of behavior and in the good old days, a progressive social constitution. Of course, there are those Jews who buy into the same misinterpretation as you, but they tend to be the kind of hypocrites that alienate other Jews from the religion.

Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...

What does age have to do with truth? Christianity and Islam have also been around for a long time, and certainly have gone through their own series of persecutions. They are both still around, and, like Ortho Judaism, growing.

How can we know that Judaism, simply by virtue of being older than both of them, is "the one"? After all, idol worship predated Abraham's monotheism.

jewish philosopher said...

Other than claiming that Jews are just stubborn by nature, how would you explain Jewish history?