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Essay/Term paper: Judaism

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Religion

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The religions of Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism all have there own beliefs. These beliefs play a big role in a person"s everyday life, and influence aspects of their culture such as holidays, diet, social structure, art, and music. In Judaism, they believe that the Sabbath day should be kept holy, and that you should follow the Ten Commandments, the laws of G-d. Their diets consist of kosher food, and have there own New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Hindus believe in Brahman and Karma, which are both a part of the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. They"re vegetarians, and have a fairly complex social structure called the caste system. Buddhists believe in Buddha"s teachings of the Four Noble Truths. These lead to there belief in following the Eightfold Path in order to reach nirvana. Their art consists of statues of the Buddha, each part having its own meaning. Their music was for the temple and they had their own special way of singing.

Two basic beliefs in the religion of Judaism are that the Sabbath is holy, and that you should follow the Ten Commandments. Sabbath, or Shabbat in Hebrew means "cease" or "desist." It takes place from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday, and you are prohibited from doing any work, unless it severely effects your life or health. The mistress of the house lights two white candles and says a blessing. An Omeg is held after Friday night or Saturday afternoon services, where there"s usually refreshments, songs, and lectures. It took G-d six days to create the world, and on the seventh day he rested. When G-d gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, he asked that the people also rest on the seventh day of the week. The Ten Commandments are the laws of G-d given to Moses at Mount Sinai. They state that: (1) You shall have no other g-ds before me, (2) I am the only g-d, (3) You shall not take the Lord"s name in vain, (4) Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy, (5) Honor your Father and Mother, (6) You shall not kill, (7) You shall not commit adultery, (8) You shall not steal, (9) You shall not bare false witness against your neighbor, and (10) You shall not covet (be jealous of) your neighbor. The first four are covenants between you and G-d, and the last six are between you and other people. The Ten Commandments were written on two stone tablets by G-d, and are in the Old Testament of the Bible. It is believed that Moses, in fury of the sight of people disobeying G-d, threw down and destroyed them. No one knows where the tablets remain today.

Jewish people eat kosher food, and celebrate the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Kosher, meaning "fit or proper" is used to refer to food in accordance to Jewish dietary laws. The animals must chew their cud and have cloven hooves. Fish must have distinct scales and fins (no shellfish). The food must not be derived from animals, birds, or fish prohibited in Leviticus 11 or Deuteronomy 14, meat must be slaughtered by the method of shehitah, the meat must be salted and soaked to get rid of all blood, and milk will not be mixed with meat. A special way of preparing and slaughtering the meat (shehitah) also applies. First, a certified (by a rabbi) shohet says a prayer over the animal. Using an extremely sharp, nick-free knife, a swift sweep is made across the throat, making the animal unconscious. All blood is then drained from the animal. Many Jewish people keep a kosher home every day and on holidays like Rosh Hashanah. This is the Jewish New Year, and means, "head of the year" in Hebrew. It is also sometimes referred to as Yom Ha-Zikkaron ("the day of remembrance"), or Yom Teruah ("the day of the sounding of the shofar"). It takes place on the first and second of Tishrei (Jewish calendar), and is one of the most holy days of the year. It"s celebrating the creation of the world, and some traditions are the blowing of the shofar and dipping apples into honey. The shofar, or ram"s horn, is sounded after service, and its notes call for a spiritual awakening. Dipping apples (or bread) into honey is to remind us to have a sweet new year. This is a time for self-evaluation, and to look back on the mistakes you"ve made in the past year. It is the first of ten days of penitence, and you make up for mistakes that you"ve made, and confess sins. It ends with the holiday of Yom Kippur, the last day you are judged.

In Hinduism, they believe in Brahman, Karma, and do not eat meat. Brahman is the Supreme Hindu G-d. All other g-ds and goddesses are aspects of Brahman. In fact, everything in the world is part of Brahman. He destroys, recreates, maintains and creates in samsara, which is the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth again. It is a Hindu"s main goal in life to reach Brahman, and by following one"s dharma (rules and regulations one must follow starting at birth), one"s soul may eventually be united with him. By following your dharma, you may also have a good next life and be reborn into a higher social class. The total bad and good deed a human soul carries from one life to the next is karma. The number of good and bad deeds you do also affects your next life, whether you"re human/animal, rich/poor, happy/sad, and things you may experience in this next life. They believe that even though your body dies, your soul is taken into a new body. Hindus" diets consist of only vegetation, because they believe that a person in one life could be an animal in another. Therefore, if you killed an animal, it would be like murdering a human. So you would be robbing them of the chance to ever reach their goal in life (reaching Brahman). That is why they treat animals and people as equals.

Hindu social structure is broken into special groups based on birth (you"d belong to your parent"s group), called castes. The castes, or varnas, were organized from highest to lowest in the following order: priests/Brahmans, warriors, landowners/ merchants/ herders, servants/ peasants, and the untouchables. Each had its" own set of rules regarding cooking, diet, marriage, home, clothing, employment, contact, and much more. For example, you could only marry members of the same class, and a higher Varna could not come into contact with a person of a lower Varna. The highest caste was considered spiritually clean, so when they came in contact with the lower, they were no longer considered pure. This is also why Brahmans/ priests had to be the cooks. Each caste had different jobs that were determined at birth. In 1947, Gandhi rejected the caste system, when India became independent.

Beliefs of the religion of Buddhism are the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The four parts to the Four Noble Truths are: (1) Life is suffering (Dukka). This recognizes that there is always suffering in life, may it be aging, death, sickness, grief, or separation from loved ones. (2) Desire causes suffering (Samudaya), because when you crave things, you become greedy, and can"t always get what you want. (3) Suffering can be ended (Nirodha), because once you stop craving things, you stop suffering. (4) Following the Eightfold Path leads to rejection of desire/suffering (Magga), and reaching nirvana, which is perfect peace. The Eightfold Path says that you have right: view and thought which is the quality of wisdom (panna); speech, action, and livelihood which is the quality of morality (sila); and effort, mindfulness, and concentration which is the quality of meditation (samadhi). All are important in order to reach nirvana.

In art, the Buddha is very special, and each part of it has a meaning. His hands are always in one of several positions (mudras). When his hand is on his knee (bhumisparsha), he is calling early beings to be witnesses for his Enlightenment. His hand in his lap represents the physical world. An open hand (abhaya) means blessing and protection, and when the pointer-finger is up, he is favor granting a position. Hands folded in his lap mean he is teaching. His "hair/brain" is representing his superior knowledge, and is in a top not, or wisdom bun (ushnisa). This was typical for a wandering ascetic. His long earlobes remind us of when the prince wore elaborate earrings, and his robe for when he gave up his property in search of Enlightenment. We recognize him for his long, straight toes, and sitting position (dyanasana).

Buddhist"s temple music is particularly renowned in the west for its two forms of polyphonic singing known as jok-kay (low tone) and bar-da (high tone). In both forms, each of the main chantmasters simultaneously intones three notes (each individually creating a complete chord). They are the only people on Earth that have this vocal ability. This tradition is also known as "overtone singing" because it is accomplished by means of learning to control the muscles of the vocal cavity and then re-shaping it while singing, thus intensifying the natural overtones of the voice. The body is therefore transformed into an effective overtone amplifier.

All of these beliefs are important to each religion in there own way. They"re what make each religion individual and special. They"ve affected our cultures today greatly in various topics. The Sabbath, Ten Commandments, Rosh Hashanah, and kosher food are all part of Judaism. Hindus believe in Brahman, Karma, and they are vegetarians and are organized into a system of castes. Buddhist statues, music, the Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Path are all part of the religion of Buddhism. These things make up their religions.


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