Festivals are the best way to learn about your faith Essay
Festivals are the best way to learn about your faith
“Festivals are the best way to learn about your faith.” Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. Refer to Judaism in you answer. (15 marks)
According to Jews, each individual has a strong duty to uphold their covenant with God. In fact, this is possibly the most important thing a Jew does during his/her lifetime: love and honour God’s commands and wishes. It is essential that all Jews, adults and children, understand what this means.
Festivals are used to rejoice but they also have a strong message that will help Jews to follow the Torah and to love God. They help Jews to learn about their faith.
E.g. Passover teaches the Jews about their history and about God’s ability to change history.
Shabbat remembers the Sabbath day when God rested from creating the world. And so, Jews must rest too on this day and do no work whatsoever. Jews reflect upon God as the creator of all things.
Simchat Torah commemorates the acceptance of the Torah and God’s counselling on how His chosen people should live
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur both call upon Jews to reflect upon their actions to God and towards each other. They are times of forgiving.
Another way that festivals are very important is because of the children of Jews. They are the Jewish future and without them, the faith would die. Jews rely on the traditions and symbolism to pass down through generations. Festivals are particularly effective in teaching children because not only are they generally fun, they present to children a time to see distant relatives, a time to relax, a time to forgive each other and to be happy.
Festivals are a exceptionally good way for children to learn about their faith but there are many ways a Jew can learn about his faith and although festivals may be the most fun, there are other essential things a Jew must learn about to learn about his/her faith.
Some Jews may argue that before they are even of an age to learn, they must be initiated into their faith by a row of festivals such as Brit Milah (circumcision), Simchat Habat (The naming ceremony for girls), Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah. These festivals mark huge event: the admission into Judaism and the responsibility for keeping the covenant and the commandments for themselves. Children learn about all this through extensive research and reading of the Torah and the Hebrew language.
Another way of learning about the religion is the reading of the Torah. Both the learning of the Written Torah and the Oral Torah is fundamental. Preferably, they will learn it in its original language, Hebrew, but nowadays, children will often learn the English version or in the language of whatever country they live. Synagogues provide study classes for communities of children and adults.
The Written Torah contains the six hundred and thirteen mitzvoth that Jews must strive to keep for all of their life. The Oral torah provides a interpretation of these rules and how to keep them.
Many Jews will also look to the local Rabbi to learn about their faith. He will advise them on any problems they have and willingly explain anything a Jew is confused about. They are they as guidance and help for Jews and are a very good way of enlightenment about Judaism.
I am inclined to agree with the statement, because the event becomes a lot more interesting and fun as it is a break from the norm and it can be easy to remember certain events by having simple symbols to remind you. For example in Passover a Seder meal is eaten which contains several symbols to describe the event, which occurred 3,300 years ago. The Z’roah is a roasted bone of lamb to symbolise painting the door posts with lamb’s blood so the Angel of Death passed over that house and spared the first-born son and the matzah symbolises the Israelites leaving in a hurry, before their bread has risen.
These symbols in the festival enable Jews to understand and remember the story by relating the food they’re eating. So, when they see the Z’roah they will think, “Oh, yes, I remember that lamb’s blood was painting over door posts so the Angel did not kill the first-born son of that house!” This is because they can relate it to the Z’roah being a roasted bone of lamb, so it jogs their memory. This is a good way to teach younger children about the story as they relate better to symbols and interesting stories than about lectures and rules that they MUST obey.
I find that I can learn something much easier if I enjoy what I am learning and festivals are a really fun way of learning about one’s faith.
However I can understand the point of view of those Jews who believe that the Written and Oral Torah are essential for the awareness of Judaism. I do believe that it is very important that Jews learn about the commandments and how they should be kept, because it is that which keeps the faith alive.
I think, to sum it up, that festivals are a very good way to learn about one’s faith, because children can relate to them better and children are, of course, the future of Judaism, but I think if a Jew has learnt about their faith through all of these aspects then you cannot ask for a more devoted and steadfast person.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 16 September 2017
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