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1. Compare Judaism and Christianity

 
 
Moishe3rd
 
  1  
Wed 11 Aug, 2004 07:40 am
rufio wrote:
On "earning salvation" - that was what I was always taught as I grew up Jewish, and also that studying torah was not, in fact neccessary as long as you followed all the important laws. There's also a lot more varied and infinitely strange ideas about death and reincarnation and the Messiah and so forth in a lot of sects of Judaism. It always seemed to me that even though there were 7 billion different types of Christian, they all seemed more unified in their beliefs than the 3 or 4 different types (maybe "degrees" is a better word) of Jew.

And I think the cultural aspects are pretty unique, in particular some Jewish customs followed by more orthodox Jews are incredibly archaic since they take the OT much more literally than Christians. But I'm sure there's some archaic practices in Christianity too, that I don't know so much about.

Well, offhand I would guess you grew up Reform.
In Torah observant Judaism (read Orthodox), learning Torah is everything, for the reasons previously stated. G-d expects us to try to understand and obey his Commandments.

The comparison to different Christian types of worship is interesting for what I believe is a matter of Belief.
In Christianity, each new sect or division believed that the "other" or previous division got it wrong, and that the new sect was the "True Word of G-d." (l'havdil)
It took about 300 years for the Romans to come up with a cohesive Christianity and at that, the Churches immediately split into the relative backwater of the Roman Catholic Church and the continuing (Roman) Eastern Orthodox Church of the Byzantine Empire.
There were various schisms after that, but the Reformation brought in major New Teachings such as Lutherism (Lutheran - The German provinces); Episcopalianism (Church of England); Calvinism; Methodism; etcetera.
Each one of these Christian religions believed that they "had it right," whereas the "others" were not as correct....

In Judaism, they also had their schisms over the years, but as in early Christianity, they never took hold amongst the majority of Jews.
This changed in the 1800's when the Haskallah or Liberation movement was born in Germany. From this we get Reform Judaism.
The notable difference in this movement from its Christian counterparts was that Reform Judaism was not claiming a new revelation from G-d; it was a movement designed to reform Judaism in order to bring it into the more "modern" age.
The idea was to mimic their Christian counterparts in order to fit into the culture of the time.
So beards were shaved off; modern dress was put on; services were changed from Shabbos (Saturday) to Sunday. Services were done in the native language of the country where Jews lived.
And, chiefly, it was no longer deemed necessary to keep Jewish Law. What are called the foundations of Judaism were deemed irrelevant - keeping Kosher; keeping the Laws of the Sabbath; keeping the Laws of Family Purity; Learning Torah; etcetera; were all done away with in the interest of blending in with the native populations.
When Reform Judaism came to America, where there was minimal persecution of Jews, it morphed into a slightly more traditional version called Conservative Judaism, where more rituals such as Hebrew and wearing a yarmulke were observed.
To put a harsh face on it, these forms of Jewish observance came about as a desire to run away from one's Jewish heritage, not as a desire to become closer to G-d.

I am not entirely well versed enough to be sure, but I suspect that the closest Christian equivalent would be Unitarianism.

Even Quakers, who have done away with most Church rituals, proclaim their religion to be designed to become closer to G-d.

There are many different "sects" or traditions of Torah observant Judaism, but it is widely held amongst Orthodox Jews that even now, and certainly within the next hundred years, Jews who are not Orthodox will not be considered Jewish.
It has to do with what is halachly (legally) considered a Jew.
This will present the odd situation of a minority of Orthodox Jews living in the Land of Israel under a "Jewish" government that they do not consider Jewish.
Oy vey izmir.
But, I suspect that G-d has other plans before this comes to pass.
0 Replies
 
dauer
 
  1  
Wed 11 Aug, 2004 09:19 am
Moishe, you give an unfair representation of conservative Judaism. The fact is that despite its many more reform members, the movement itself encourages working with the law rather than throwing it away. Its roots are both in the orthodox and reform movements, people coming together from all sides. Kashrut and Shabbat, among other things, are observed in a conservative home that stands by the movement's values. I'm still exploring these things, as I was brought up in a more culturally Jewish home, as I try to find where I fit. Tzniut is also an issue, the difference being what is considered appropriate. Issues between the orthodox and conservative movements usually have to do with different rulings on halacha.

I see the potential for something very big to happen now that reform is becoming more traditional in its services. The liberal conservatives will leave for reform and the conservatives who go by the book will either remain conservative or take on a new name with less wishywashy stands on the issues because they will no longer have to appeal to the least observant of their members.

The movement actually issued a statement saying each Jew should take on 3 new mitzvot a year. It's not much, but it does speak about the desire to see people increasing their observance little by little until they have no more to increase.


I would say that the differences between the movements are typically this:

approach to halakha (law)

Orthodox say it is binding in the way it has been binding and seem to add more fences as time goes by -- a fence is a supplementary law built in to protect breaking that law.

Conservative say it is binding, but we can work with it and come to new understandings about it.

Reform say that it's only important if we find it important to us. Look at a law and then decide if it is right for you.

Reconstructionists have an entirely different approach that I don't really understand.

Renewal Jews say we can supplement practices with other, foreign forms of worship, as long as we make them Jewish. And we need to make Jewish ideas and values relevant to today. Views vary though, as they are post-denominational and have members of all denominations.

Union of Traditional Judaism was a break from Conservative Judaism that seems to stress differences in laws between men and women, sometimes more than the orthodox. They are extremely small.

Karaites don't trust any oral traditions and don't follow the talmud. They believe only in their own interpretations of Tanakh -- torah, prophets, writings.

Orthodox breaks off into modern ortho, ultra ortho, and the hasidim who are really something else entirely. Modern orthodox are similar to the conservative movement, but they take much more traditional interpretations. Ultra orthodox tend to stick with what's been done.

Hasidim are -- typically -- centered around a rebbe. This rebbe is the center of the community and they cleave to him. In doing so their spiritual status is raised. They are very big on mysticism.


For those who don't know what Moishe was speaking on, Family Purity has to do with a man and woman not being intimate during the time of her period and for a time following. After this time the woman goes to the mikvah which is a ritual bath.
0 Replies
 
Moishe3rd
 
  1  
Wed 11 Aug, 2004 12:43 pm
dauer wrote:
Moishe, you give an unfair representation of conservative Judaism. The fact is that despite its many more reform members, the movement itself encourages working with the law rather than throwing it away. Its roots are both in the orthodox and reform movements, people coming together from all sides. Kashrut and Shabbat, among other things, are observed in a conservative home that stands by the movement's values. I'm still exploring these things, as I was brought up in a more culturally Jewish home, as I try to find where I fit. Tzniut is also an issue, the difference being what is considered appropriate. Issues between the orthodox and conservative movements usually have to do with different rulings on halacha.

Well...
My perspective, having been quite active in Conservative Judaism in various places around the country for a number of years, is a little different.
Conservative Judaism may have broad "rulings" or laws that appear to be similiar to Orthodox Judaism, but the practice of these laws is very dependent upon the local community.
For instance, in my community in New Jersey, the Rabbi strictly enforced Kashrus in the synagogue.
In Minnesota, everyone is allowed to bring whatever they want and use it in the synagogue and synagogue activities outside of the synagogue are fair game for no Kashrus whatsoever.
The same applies to the rest of Jewish Law.
It is sort of as if Federal US laws were selectively applied, depending upon what the local population believed in. (Which, of course, they were for awhile - segregation, voting, etc. - but that keeps on changing as we become a more unified country.)
Anyway, I do believe that people should do the best that they can do, and be the best that you can be..... Smile
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dauer
 
  1  
Wed 11 Aug, 2004 12:46 pm
Moishe, I agree with you. And that's why I see a split coming. The glue's gonna give.
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Rick d Israeli
 
  1  
Wed 11 Aug, 2004 02:03 pm
Moishe3rd wrote:
So beards were shaved off; modern dress was put on; services were changed from Shabbos (Saturday) to Sunday. Services were done in the native language of the country where Jews lived.

Did the shaving off of the beards really only began when Reform Judaism saw daylight? For what I know the Netherlands had no history of Reform (Liberal) Judaism before Jewish refugees from Germany came to my country in the 30's, setting up the first congregations (many of which sadly were soon destroyed in WW II; however, in the 50's Dutch Jews decided to 'give it a try' and now the Liberal communities are the fasted growing Jewish communities in the Netherlands - for what I know -, with main centres in places like Rotterdam and Tilburg). Taking that in consideration though, the look of the Dutch Jews at that moment - both Ashkenazi as well as Sefardic - was as, well, how the rest of the population looked like. Although it's just a small detail, but did the shaving off of the beards really started with Reform Judaism in Germany?
0 Replies
 
rufio
 
  1  
Wed 11 Aug, 2004 04:14 pm
To my knowledge, Unitarians are not even Christians. Reform Jews are very much Jews - the basic rituals and all the important laws are still honored, and we do not have services on Sunday - only Friday night/Saturday morning. What is taken out is the extra rituals that were influenced heavily by the culture of the times and are thus not needed any more. You can't sacrifice things to the temple, because the temple is not around anymore. No sect does that. Instead, we honor the tradition with prayers before eating. It's the same way with many things in reform Judaism. Some of the practices of orthodox Judaism, even modern orthodox, seem downright offensive to me as a woman. They made sense when taken in the context of the times that the torah was written in, but there are other, more equal ways to honor those requirements now. Nothing changes about the religion, only the way in which it is performed.
0 Replies
 
dauer
 
  1  
Wed 11 Aug, 2004 06:20 pm
Rufio, this may surprise you but the first reform temples had pews. There was a very famous banquet early on where they served all sorts of traif items. That was one of the irritants that led to conservative Judaism. Some of the rabbis didn't like scallops wrapped in bacon at a Jewish event. The original reformers just wanted to fit in with the Protestants. The movement has changed a lot and it's still changing. It seems to be going back to its roots actually -- the Jewish ones, not the ones of the founders.

The UU's are not Christian. But there are also Christian Unitarian groups. And on top of that, a UU can be a Christian or whatever else.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Wed 11 Aug, 2004 06:36 pm
Sofia wrote:
I think this can end up being a neat thread, along with the other two.

I can't come to the threads with much knowledge of Jewish life/history, except from a Christian viewpoint--but I guess, if everyone brings their own particular viewpoint, this could prove interesting.

As a Christian, I was taught that Jews are God's chosen people, they were constantly disappointing God--but this was likely due to their impossible laws. And, it was largely due to their inability to please Him, that He decided to become human, and relieve them of the burden of having to earn their salvation. He earned it for them.

In roughspeak, Jesus was Plan B--or a fair social program for all of us heathens, who just couldn't meet the initial mark.

The salvation aspect, I guess, is the big thing. Jews, as I understand, must earn their salvation through works, while Christians have to accept it, through faith.

Hope you gets lots of responses.



By "chosen people", is meant that the Jewish people were chosen by God to receive the Torah at Mt Sinai. Cool This is what the Reform and Conservative Rabbis, I've studied with, have said.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Wed 11 Aug, 2004 06:47 pm
Moishe3rd wrote:
Well, as you all are engaging in a civil exchange, I have little to offer in terms of "corrections." Dauer seems to basically have it right.
I am not sure that the idea of everyone going to Gehinnom is accurate.
The idea is that the mitzvohs of a Jew are weighed against his aveirahs (sins) and if mitzvohs outweigh the aveirahs, he goes on the the Heavenly World.
However, Judaism is resplendent with the idea that G-d's mercy is overwhelming and it is Hashem's (G-d's) wish that everyone enter the Heavenly world.
The idea being that one really only ends up in Gehinnom if one is really deserving due to having been pretty bad in Life.
However, these are still very loose concepts that are not as clearly defined as they might be in Christianity.

This world is called Olam Hazeh and it is considered the world of illusion or false values.
The next world (or previous one) is called Olam Habah and it is considered the real world.
Just food for thought.

Now, I offer my semi-educated, very cryptic, OPINION on what Judaism means.
It's all about the Jews.
All of History. All of world events. All of what happens. Is centered on Israel.
It is a bizarre and often frightening thought, but, through my own observations, I have found this to be true.
As Tevya said, in "Fiddler on the Roof:" G-d, I know we're the Chosen People, but once in a while, couldn't you choose somebody else?
I find no other explanation for the total obsession with Jews, with Israel, with Judaism for the entire history of Man.
It makes no sense otherwise.
Jews are Chosen by G-d and our mission, should we decide to accept it, is to do what G-d has commanded us to do.....Otherwise....
This nation will self destruct in five minutes.
Good luck!


Back to some basics, here. Jews were chosen by God to receive the Torah. This was accomplished at Mt Sinai and the use of the word, "chosen" in no way implies that Jews are God's favorites. All men/women are created equal in the eyes of God, regardless of their religious affliation.
0 Replies
 
Moishe3rd
 
  1  
Wed 11 Aug, 2004 08:51 pm
Rick d'Israeli wrote:
Moishe3rd wrote:
So beards were shaved off; modern dress was put on; services were changed from Shabbos (Saturday) to Sunday. Services were done in the native language of the country where Jews lived.

Did the shaving off of the beards really only began when Reform Judaism saw daylight? For what I know the Netherlands had no history of Reform (Liberal) Judaism before Jewish refugees from Germany came to my country in the 30's, setting up the first congregations (many of which sadly were soon destroyed in WW II; however, in the 50's Dutch Jews decided to 'give it a try' and now the Liberal communities are the fasted growing Jewish communities in the Netherlands - for what I know -, with main centres in places like Rotterdam and Tilburg). Taking that in consideration though, the look of the Dutch Jews at that moment - both Ashkenazi as well as Sefardic - was as, well, how the rest of the population looked like. Although it's just a small detail, but did the shaving off of the beards really started with Reform Judaism in Germany?

It is sort of a side issue.
But, traditionally, in Eastern European Judaism, up until this century, shaving off one's beard was a symbol of freeing oneself from the "onerous" Laws of Judaism.
Of course, there were many Jewish communities where beards were not a symbol of one's committment to Judaism, but by and large, most observant Jews had beards.
It has to do with the Laws prohibiting one from "shaving the corners of one's face." With the advent of electric razors, this is not a particular issue today.
The "haskalah" was the movement among European Jews in the late 18th century toward adopting "modern" values. They wanted to integrate into the larger gentile society and they wanted to acquire the knowledge, manners, and behaviors of the gentiles amongst whom they lived.
This led those Jews who professed these attitudes to form "Reform" synagogues so that they could still worship in a "Jewish" fashion.
So no, the shaving of the beards did not start with Reform Jews in Germany. It was simply part of the process.
0 Replies
 
rufio
 
  1  
Wed 11 Aug, 2004 10:19 pm
Daur - I don't know a whole lot about the history of reform Judaism, only how it's practiced now. I guess that would explain why a lot of orthodox and conservative Jews seem to think that reform Jews aren't really Jews somehow. It mostly seems to be arguments about little things like whether it's ok to play music for some of the songs or eat things at a restaurant that might not have some rabbi's stamp of approval on them. There's no law in the torah against playing music, and I personally think the kashrut laws have been way over-interpreted. The actual wording is about boiling a calf in it's mother's milk. Nothing about calves boiled in ANY milk, or being served with milk products, or anything about turkeys or chikens. But since I've pretty much stopped keeping kosher or being Jewish at all, it probably doesn't matter what I think about it. Mmmmm, shrimp.
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mosheb
 
  1  
Thu 12 Aug, 2004 06:07 am
well, in the whole old testament it doesn't say anything about heaven at all - there isn't any mention of an afterlife, at least not in the sense that we know of it there. The later conception of afterlife seems to have come into being around the first century b.c., and was made more imperative a few hundred years aftre. Anyway, there isn't any one thing that is concieved of as the good thing to do
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mosheb
 
  1  
Thu 12 Aug, 2004 06:14 am
oops sorry, I thought the first page was the last one, and answered what was asked there. I won't go into the reform things, cause I'm Israeli and there aren't to many around here, so I don't really know to much about it. Though it is very intresting sometimes to red about all the religous ideas that American Jews managed to cook up in the last hundred years - here it's all pretty much the same like what was before. There you seem to have really had all kinds of new Ideas. It is intresting that in Israel there was no try at all to do this. I guess we just had ther things to think about.
0 Replies
 
Moishe3rd
 
  1  
Thu 12 Aug, 2004 06:18 am
rufio wrote:
Daur - I don't know a whole lot about the history of reform Judaism, only how it's practiced now. I guess that would explain why a lot of orthodox and conservative Jews seem to think that reform Jews aren't really Jews somehow. It mostly seems to be arguments about little things like whether it's ok to play music for some of the songs or eat things at a restaurant that might not have some rabbi's stamp of approval on them. There's no law in the torah against playing music, and I personally think the kashrut laws have been way over-interpreted. The actual wording is about boiling a calf in it's mother's milk. Nothing about calves boiled in ANY milk, or being served with milk products, or anything about turkeys or chikens. But since I've pretty much stopped keeping kosher or being Jewish at all, it probably doesn't matter what I think about it. Mmmmm, shrimp.

rufio,
If a Jew is a Jew, then she's a Jew.
It has nothing to do with his or her level of observance.
The "little" things that you speak of are directly related to our relationship with our Creator.

From Rebbetzin Faigy Twerski in Aish.com:
Quote:
The first note of clarification needs to be that the objective of God's commandments is not the betterment of society as a whole or how we might appear to others, but rather how the mitzvot (commandments) speak to us personally, and how they enhance and promote the requisite spiritual growth of the individual who observes them.

A mitzvah (commandment) is a communication between the 'Metzvave,' the Commander (God), and the person who has wisely chosen to observe His expressed will, thereby forging a personal relationship with the Master of the universe. Society and the people around us are merely incidental and peripheral to the process.
.................

Philosophically, the issue at hand is the existential struggle between focusing on the external or the internal dimensions of life. The external is the physical, material world of appearances that incessantly and compellingly beckons to us. This includes the never-ending drive to sate our appetites. It encompasses the needs of eating, drinking, sleeping, clothing ourselves, careers, acquisition of money, buying bigger and more beautiful homes, cars, vacations etc, etc. All of these drives are part of the world of the proverbial hunt. Arguably, the pursuit of the blandishments of the external world can be all consuming and, as such, can conceivably take us far off course from a life of purpose and meaning.

The internal world is the world of the spirit. Its voice is quieter and its demands on the human being more subtle and admittedly drowned out by the loud chatter of external pressures. But to ignore the needs of the soul is to ultimately deny one's raison d'etre -- the reason for being on this earth.
0 Replies
 
Rick d Israeli
 
  1  
Thu 12 Aug, 2004 06:21 am
Moishe3rd wrote:
So no, the shaving of the beards did not start with Reform Jews in Germany. It was simply part of the process.

OK Smile I also realise it's a very small detail, but hey, I was just wondering.

Concerning German Jews and their urge to adapt to Gentile society: do realize that German Jews have always been very focused on their Christian countrymen. There has not been a single country in history where so many Jews converted to Christianity without being directly forced by the Gentile (Christian) population: according to a book I just read about German Jews (it was by an Israeli author, but I forgot his name), 50% of Berlin Jews converted to Christianity in the 19th (or 18th, I don't for sure) century. Converting to Christianity meant you could do certain things which you could not do as a Jew. On the other hand, there were of course also Jews who genuinely converted to Christianity because they couldn't stand the Orthodox establishment (later on, Reform Judaism proved to be a perfect solution). Famous converted Jews were people like Heinrich Heine, and many (grand)children of Moses Mendelssohn (most famous must be Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy). Sadly enough, Reform Judaism and adapting to German culture (in cities as Berlin, many Jews even had a Christmas tree during Christmas) could not prevent them to still be seen as outsiders for some (you know what I mean).
0 Replies
 
dauer
 
  1  
Thu 12 Aug, 2004 08:45 am
rufio: You sound like a Karaite. They mix milk and meat and do not eat chicken because it was not specifically mentioned They do not wear tefillin or have mezuzot. They begin the year based on the barley harvest and the month based on the first sighting of the sliver of the moon. On Passover they read the story of Egypt directly from the Torah. Basically, they reject the immediate value of all oral traditions.

mosheb: This sounds like a misrepresentation and one that I've heard before. From what I understand, there are masorti as well as secular Jews. Their observances may be greater than those of their American counterparts, but they are also living in the land, and their culture and their language are a constant reminder of who they are. Still, it would be wrong to say there is no secularism or to deny the existence of the masorti.

edit again: This is beginning to turn into the place for the Jews to chat and that's really getting away from what I wanted to achieve, so I'd like to pose an interfaith question now:

What does salvation in Judaism look like vs. salvation in Christianity? Is there a need for salvation? What is the role of the messiah and how does this role fit into the greater scheme of things? These issues have been touched upon but because of the major differences I'd like to address them directly and more thoroughly. Hopefully some more Christians will be willing to join in. Yoda? We seek your knowledge o short and greenish one.
0 Replies
 
extra medium
 
  1  
Thu 12 Aug, 2004 01:59 pm
What does the "average" Jewish person think of Jesus?

What was he? A misguided lunatic troublemaker? Just another false prophet? Or maybe just a guy that said some stuff, had a few followers, and got himself killed?

Are their any Jewish sects that think of Jesus as any more than just another average human being? Hmmm....did a search on google and it appears there is at least a few groups that call themselves Jewish & "Believe in Jesus as Messiah." Not sure how mainstream Jewish folk feel about such groups, though.

Do "most" Jewish people believe there is a messiah coming in the future?

I realize these answers may be found in texts, but I am interested more in what most living Jewish people actually believe...
0 Replies
 
Moishe3rd
 
  1  
Thu 12 Aug, 2004 06:52 pm
extra medium wrote:
What does the "average" Jewish person think of Jesus?

What was he? A misguided lunatic troublemaker? Just another false prophet? Or maybe just a guy that said some stuff, had a few followers, and got himself killed?

Are their any Jewish sects that think of Jesus as any more than just another average human being? Hmmm....did a search on google and it appears there is at least a few groups that call themselves Jewish & "Believe in Jesus as Messiah." Not sure how mainstream Jewish folk feel about such groups, though.

Do "most" Jewish people believe there is a messiah coming in the future?

I realize these answers may be found in texts, but I am interested more in what most living Jewish people actually believe...


I am not average, however...
Most Jews who have parents who strongly identify as Jews, feel vaguely uneasy about Jesus.
Most know as much about Jesus as the average person who is not a practicing Christian.
But Jews also know about the Holocaust and the Inquistion and the Christian (Russian, Ukranian, Polish, German, Catholic, whoever) pogroms against Jews. So Jesus is the guy responsible for Christianity.... "There's something wrong here." Rolling Eyes

Not that they would tell their gentile neighbors that, but for a lot of Jews, Jesus is kind of creepy.

Then, there's the Orthodox Jews. Having studied Torah and read the commentaries on Jesus.... well, let's just say that the Torah presents Jesus in a less than complimentary light. Far more than creepy... Downright.... umm,.... wrong.

As for me, "I don't care what they may say.... I don't care what they may do.... Jesus is just all right by me."
I once told my rabbi that and he looked at me as if I had two heads. He had never heard that song.

I believe that Jesus was a mystic along the lines of the Bal Shem Tov, the founder of Chasidism.
I suspect that that is how he would have been remembered if Paul (Saul of Tarsus) hadn't come along and become convinced that Jesus was the Moshiach.
Of course Paul, as a good Jew has to do when the Moshiach comes, went and told the gentiles.
Oy.
Then they came up with this whole mishagos that Jesus was G-d.
It was all downhill from there.

However, G-d does move in mysterious ways, so Christianity is certainly in the world for G-d's purposes.
To act as a hinderance for the Jews?
Perhaps.
And now that Christianity (Esav) no longer hates the Jews (Yaakov), maybe Hashem has raised Islam (Yishmael) to act as a hinderance to the Jews?
0 Replies
 
extra medium
 
  1  
Thu 12 Aug, 2004 07:41 pm
Moishe,

Interesting.

Would you say most Jewish people believe that a Messiah will come one day?
0 Replies
 
Moishe3rd
 
  1  
Thu 12 Aug, 2004 08:27 pm
extra medium wrote:
Moishe,

Interesting.

Would you say most Jewish people believe that a Messiah will come one day?

Well again, there is a world of difference between "most Jewish people" and religiously observant Jews.
For Orthodox Jews, believing that Moshiach (the Messiah) will come, "speedily, now, and in our day," is an article of Faith.

It is actually one of the Thirteen Articles of Faith by Rambam (Mamonides):
12. "I believe with complete faith in the coming of Moshiach, and although he may tarry, nevertheless, I wait every day for him to come."

I don't think that most other Jews think much about the Messiah.
On this I could be wrong. Rufio? Dauer?
0 Replies
 
 

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