Religious / Spiritual Identity

In early Judaism the human personality was considered as a whole without a distinction between body and soul. However, by the Middle Ages, the soul was seen as the principle of life which could survive the death of the body.

Jews are expected to live an halakhic life, in accordance with G-d’s will and the 613 mitzvot. This should ensure a life lived in the sight of G-d and one lived with yetser hara (good intentions) rather than yetser yatov (bad intentions).

Many Jews may demonstrate commitment in a physical manner by regular attendance at a synagogue and also by the wearing of particular clothing in daily life. This latter might be a beard and a simple yamulkah or the beaver hat and long black coat favoured by Hasidic Jews.

However important these are they are only outward symbols of a Jewish life which is expressed in every aspect of existence.

Non-orthodox Jews may offer no distinguishing features in this manner but would deny that their personal commitment was any less or their moral code diminished in any way.

Although kashrut means that many parts of a Jew’s life might be lived separately from that of the gentile world, nevertheless, Judaism does not approve of a society which cuts itself off from the world. Therefore Jewish life can be viewed as being a demonstration of the faith in the secular world. The concept of a ‘chosen people’ is intended to present an example or role model to non-Jews of how G-d wishes people to live.

The moral code of Judaism based on the Torah is strict and required of all followers. However, in that it relates to others, Jews could not treat non-Jews differently from Jews. The same respect, honesty and integrity must be displayed.

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