One suggested application of this thesis in our specific context of Wesleyan theology is that the Old Testament concept of torah can provide a new model for holiness in the 21st century: There are several lines of evidence that could be followed here. Since time constraints prohibit pursuing any of them in detail, let me simply suggest what these lines might be and briefly sketch out with selected examples and observation the track they would take.
Two additional parameters need to be established. First, I will not investigate torah as a metaphysical or ontological category, although not denying that the ancient Israelites were capable of thinking in those terms. The basis of my observations will be the canonical biblical texts of the Old Testament. Although not excluding the various historical and literary strata of the biblical material, I will look at these texts from the perspective of a holistic understanding of the Old Testament as the literary repository of the Old Testament Faith Scripture , and against the background of insights from modern Old Testament scholarship.
Second, I will not attempt to trace the specific historical development of the concept into intertestamental or first century AD Judaism, or its development in later rabbinic Judaism. I will assume a diachronic theological trajectory of the concept of torah , and will try to establish the beginnings of that trajectory from the Old Testament. It is that theological significance that I will attempt to explore in what follows.
There is little question that the term torah has a wide range of meaning. Not only is it often difficult to translate in the biblical texts, subsequent usage has added shades of meaning beyond the language itself. It has become nearly axiomatic that the term does not mean simply "law. However correct this may be, there are places in the biblical text where torah does seem to have the specific meaning of "law" as referring to a binding rule or code of conduct, often written, to be enforced by a controlling authority. In these cases, specific actions were required in the context of a community.
In addition, we can note that verbs like obey, keep, do, and enforce are often used with torah. The torah is commanded and warnings are given not to transgress, break, or violate the torah. This is also supported by the use of torah as a general reference to larger blocks of material that contain social regulations for the community. However, even with this acknowledgment, there is considerable ambiguity and tension in the concept. For example, Numbers 5: Then he shall have the woman stand before the LORD, and the priest shall do to her all this torah.
Yet, this is in the context of detailed instructions for a trial by ordeal, an elaborate cultic ritual, not what we would call a "civil" legal proceeding. There is additional tension in the biblical tradition from at least two other perspectives. The Chronicler specifically points out that the reforms proceeded according to the written torah as law. It is not that these are mutually exclusive, only that they are different perspectives. Second, it is significant to note that most of these "legal" uses of torah are from texts heavily influenced by a priestly perspective, or governed by the theological macro-structure of the Deuteronomist.
None of these passages are from the prophetic or wisdom traditions, and most of them refer specifically to cultic or ritual observance. However, the conclusion is that when torah is presented as primarily a legal concept, it is in the context of a very specific perspective and agenda, almost always relating to the identity and solidarity of the community as a religious and social unit.
While maintaining that torah should in some cases be understood as "law," in the Old Testament it most frequently has the meaning of "instruction" or "guidance. Blessed are those whose path is wholesome [ tamim ], who walk by the torah of the LORD! The emphasis is on a lifestyle lived out walking a path under the active, and interactive, guidance and direction of God.
Torah must be learned, meditated on, and understood. Torah must become part of the person in the process of living so that she lives life faithfully in response to the deliverance, grace, love, even the creation, that God has given. The need for obedience is certainly present, even a strong sense of obligation. But it is not viewed in terms of legal constraint here, but as a joyful, loving, intentional response of the heart.
Since Psalm is usually considered to be a late post-exilic composition, this perspective of torah stands in direct tension with other post-exilic perspectives noted above that focus on the legal requirements of torah. We do not have to go far to find additional examples of torah used in this sense. In prophetic eschatological passages, the writers long for and envision a future in which the whole world will be instructed in the ways of Yahweh.
Many peoples shall come, and they will say: This passage is significant for several reasons. Torah is here paralleled with "word" dabar of the Lord. The implication is also that there can be new words, new torah for new times. Receive torah from his mouth, and establish his words in your heart. In the period of the monarchy, it was normally the prophet who gave this ongoing direction from God. In later periods after the destruction of Jerusalem, that responsibility fell increasingly to the priest. For example, in Malachi 2: The priests are condemned because they have perverted the instruction selfishly and caused people to stumble on the path.
A final area in which torah has the unambiguous meaning of instruction is in the wisdom traditions. In virtually all the occurrences of torah in Old Testament sapiential literature it means teaching or instruction, even when it is paralleled with "legal" terms, such as in Proverbs 1: It has been customary to identify three different kinds of torah in the Old Testament: While torah does at times have the overtones of legal requirements under a governing authority, there is considerable tension in the concept.
Different traditions lay varying weight on the legal overtones, and some traditions have little if any forensic dimension. However, rather than seeing these as different kinds of torah , or relegate them to different periods of history, or to different religious or social classes, I would suggest that these simply reflect different aspects and perspectives of a single overarching concept. There are a variety of governing verbs used with the noun torah.
I have already noted that some of these verbs obey, keep, do, enforce, transgress, break, violate seem to reinforce a forensic dimension of the concept. However, a closer examination of some of these words reveal a range of meaning that lessens the legal connotations in English. The most common governing verb used with torah is "keep" shamar, and its synonym natsar. This word has a range of meaning from the literal tend [a flock], keep, guard, protect, preserve , to the more figurative celebrate, observe, be prudent, follow the guidelines.
It occurs about 25 times with torah, including several occurrences in the idiom "be careful to do," and about times with various synonymous and related terms commandment, statute, covenant, service, etc. It is possible to see these constructions from a forensic perspective in the more literal meanings, an idiomatic way of saying "obey the law. This is the meaning at the end of the positive half of the paired salvation history psalms , where both words are used Psalm He brought out his people with joy, his chosen ones with singing. The conclusion is that keeping the torah, while perhaps in some contexts understood as a legal obligation, is seen in others as an act of faithfulness in responsive relationship to God.
The most common verb translated "obey" is actually an idiom in Hebrew. If one really hears the voice of God, what would they do but respond? Consequently, if they do not respond, it is because they have not heard. The idea behind the idiom is not simply to obey, but to respond to what is heard. So in passages like Jeremiah You brought your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and outstretched arm, and with great terror; and you gave them this land, which you swore to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; and they entered and took possession of it.
But they did not hear your voice or walk in your torah ; they did nothing of all you commanded them to do. Therefore you have made all this disaster come upon them. Likewise, in Isaiah Who gave up Jacob to the spoiler, and Israel to the robbers? Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned, in whose paths they would not walk, and whose torah they would not hear? Sometimes the torah that the people are to hear respond to are words written in a book Neh 8: However, just as often what they are to hear is the voice of God, either directly or through his agents, as in Zechariah 7: They made their hearts like flint lest they should hear the torah and the words [ debarim ] which the LORD of hosts had sent by his breath through earlier prophets.
This even extends to the torah as interpreted within the community where prophets, teachers, or scribes can themselves proclaim torah that must be heard by the community, as in Isa 1: Give ear to the torah of our God, you people of Gomorrah! What follows in this passage is a prophetic attack on the cultic rituals the people are observing according to the "law" while at the same time they are failing to live out a faithful response to God in their lives, and so need a new torah.
This tension in what constitutes true torah will be taken up below. What emerges here is a much more dynamic concept behind this idiom than simply "obey the law. The emphasis is on faithful response to that instruction or leadership. The metaphorical use of the verb "walk" on a path halak , to mean living in a certain way, is often connected with torah and its synonyms. Israel took the historical nature of its relationship with God seriously. That is, she understood that relationship with God as His people meant translating it into the very arena in which He had revealed Himself to initiate the relationship: Relationship with God was never left in abstracted categories, nor could it be mythicized into a cosmic realm, nor could it be encompassed by legal requirements.
It must be lived in real time, in real place, in changing human existence. That meant that relationship with God was dynamic as the community moved through history. The theological idea that emerges here is an understanding that the people must respond faithfully to God hear His voice by living in a certain way walk His path. To hear God, either in words or in deeds, calls for a response. The parameters of that response are described as torah. Torah could be God acting or speaking directly in history, God speaking through prophets or teachers, God speaking through the community, or God speaking through the testimony of the community recorded in a book.
It was nothing less than the interactive will of God for the community. This dynamic interactive understanding of relationship with God as expressed in the concept of torah can be seen in other aspects of the biblical traditions. The very canonical shaping of the bulk of Old Testament torah traditions contribute to this understanding. For several decades critical Old Testament study has raised questions about the relationship between the exodus and Sinai narratives in the book of Exodus. Ever since Gerhard von Rad suggested that the core of Old Testament tradition was a short confessional credo focused on the exodus event, many Old Testament scholars have separated the Sinai narratives as secondary literature, or least divorced them from the main narratives of the exodus.
Without even entering that debate, I would like to follow the canonical shaping of the tradition that has left the stories in their present sequence, and which emphasizes the theological confession of that shaping. There are two important theological points that emerge from the present canonical shape of these traditions. First, the simple observation that exodus precedes the giving of torah at Sinai should be allowed to have its full import.
God initiated a relationship with this people by entering history and hearing the cries of oppressed slaves. He revealed himself in history, not only through the words to Moses but by the exodus itself. Later theological reflection on the reason for this action of God could find no basis or merit on the part of the people; only that God chose to act out of love and grace.
As the Exodus tradition continually repeats, the purpose of the exodus was so that the people, and Pharaoh, might know that Yahweh is God. The Sinai narratives are rooted in that historical deliverance and encounter. The introductory speech to these narratives is important Exod So now, if you will truly hear my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall become my own possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall become my kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
Not only is the giving of torah placed against the background of the exodus, its purpose was to call the people to a continual and unique relationship with the God of the exodus, a God who had been experienced as the initiator of the divine-human encounter. It can only be the outworking of a response to a relationship already established.
- III. Torah as Response;
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Torah can be seen as the means to develop and nurture the relationship, as well as to live the implications of the relationship in history. Yet, proper observance of torah , even conceived as law, does not cause God to act; it is the celebratory response to action He has already done on his own. But torah cannot create the relationship. There is a remarkable parallel to the canonical shaping of Exodus in the "second" torah , the reiteration and interpretation of the Sinai torah found in Deuteronomy.
After the first four verses of introduction and scene setting, the first speech of Moses is introduced in 1: Beyond the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to explain this torah , saying:. What follows this introduction in the next three chapters 1: Just as in Exodus, the torah traditions here are not presented simply as law to obey. Even when torah is to be explained and taught to the people, it is set in a narrative framework that links it directly to the exodus event. At the conclusion of this recounting is an extended appeal for faithful response from the people to the torah 4: Motives given in this section for hearing and keeping torah faithful response include: Four times in this passage are references to children vv.
There is also concern that the people learn torah , that they understand it, that they take it to heart and make it a part of them 4: These same concerns work out repeatedly through the entire book. While many of the apparently "legal" synonymous terms for torah appear in this context, the whole tenor of the appeal, and the following ones, is not obedience to a code of law. The emphasis is on the ongoing viability of this community as the people of God, and their well being as they move into an uncertain future fraught with dangers that they cannot yet imagine.
Torah calls this community to remember the God of the exodus, and calls them willingly to shape their lives in faithful response to Him as they move into the very real world of Canaan. The specificity of the instructions as ethical and behavioral norms could be, and often were , perverted into a legal code devoid of life, but that was not the spirit of torah.
This same phenomena can be traced throughout the Old Testament, and even into the New Testament. When Joshua wants to call the people to renewal, he first summarizes where they have been and what God has done Josh Torah is not conceived as a body of laws that have validity apart from the actions of God. It is consistently seen as a faithful response in the context of ongoing relationship with God and empowered by that relationship. The primary understanding of torah in the Old Testament traditions as dynamic response to God rather than as fixed "law" can be traced through the biblical traditions by noting how torah expressed in specific regulations was adapted, transformed, and modified as the community moved through history and faced different circumstances.
Cultic regulations make up a considerable portion of the Pentateuch. Torah In the Balance, Volume II is a book which recognizes that the Torah does regulate many physical actions to be performed by God's people. Faith in the Lord is hardly just a series of abstract mental beliefs or doctrines; it is also something which is to be demonstrated in concrete works. But when we consider the importance of external works as a manifestation of our trust in Yeshua the Messiah Jesus Christ , what is some of the variance seen in on-the-ground Messianic settings?
What about our physical dress and appearance? What about issues like circumcision or water immersion baptism? What about various religious symbols like the cross or Star of David? A minority Jewish view, which appears in some codes of Jewish law , is that while Christian worship is polytheistic due to the multiplicity of the Trinity , it is permissible for them to swear in God's name, since they are referring to the one God. This theology is referred to in Hebrew as Shituf literally "partnership" or "association". Although worship of a trinity is considered to be not different from any other form of idolatry for Jews, it may be an acceptable belief for non-Jews according to the ruling of some Rabbinic authorities.
Judaism teaches that the purpose of the Torah is to teach us how to act correctly. God's existence is a given in Judaism, and not something that most authorities see as a matter of required belief. Although some authorities see the Torah as commanding Jews to believe in God, Jews see belief in God as a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for a Jewish life.
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The quintessential verbal expression of Judaism is the Shema Yisrael , the statement that the God of the Bible is their God, and that this God is unique and one. The quintessential physical expression of Judaism is behaving in accordance with the Mitzvot the commandments specified in the Torah , and thus live one's life in God's ways. Thus fundamentally in Judaism, one is enjoined to bring holiness into life with the guidance of God's laws , rather than removing oneself from life to be holy.
Much of Christianity also teaches that God wants people to perform good works , but all branches hold that good works alone will not lead to salvation, which is called Legalism , the exception being dual-covenant theology. Some Christian denominations hold that salvation depends upon transformational faith in Jesus, which expresses itself in good works as a testament or witness to ones faith for others to see primarily Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism , while others including most Protestants hold that faith alone is necessary for salvation.
Some argue that the difference is not as great as it seems, because it really hinges on the definition of "faith" used. The first group generally uses the term "faith" to mean "intellectual and heartfelt assent and submission". Such a faith will not be salvific until a person has allowed it to effect a life transforming conversion turning towards God in their being see Ontotheology.
The Christians that hold to "salvation by faith alone" also called by its Latin name " sola fide " define faith as being implicitly ontological —mere intellectual assent is not termed "faith" by these groups. Faith, then, is life-transforming by definition. In both religions, offenses against the will of God are called sin. These sins can be thoughts, words, or deeds.
Catholicism categorizes sins into various groups. A wounding of the relationship with God is often called venial sin ; a complete rupture of the relationship with God is often called mortal sin. Without salvation from sin see below , a person's separation from God is permanent, causing such a person to enter Hell in the afterlife.
Both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church define sin more or less as a "macula", a spiritual stain or uncleanliness that constitutes damage to man's image and likeness of God. Hebrew has several words for sin, each with its own specific meaning. The word pesha , or "trespass", means a sin done out of rebelliousness. The word aveira means "transgression".
And the word avone , or "iniquity", means a sin done out of moral failing. The word most commonly translated simply as "sin", het , literally means "to go astray". Just as Jewish law, halakha provides the proper "way" or path to live, sin involves straying from that path. Judaism teaches that humans are born with free will , and morally neutral, with both a yetzer hatov , literally, "the good inclination", in some views, a tendency towards goodness, in others, a tendency towards having a productive life and a tendency to be concerned with others and a yetzer hara , literally "the evil inclination", in some views, a tendency towards evil, and in others, a tendency towards base or animal behavior and a tendency to be selfish.
In Judaism all human beings are believed to have free will and can choose the path in life that they will take. It does not teach that choosing good is impossible—only at times more difficult. There is almost always a "way back" if a person wills it. Although texts mention certain categories for whom the way back will be exceedingly hard, such as the slanderer, the habitual gossip, and the malicious person.
The rabbis recognize a positive value to the yetzer hara: In contrast to the Jewish view of being morally balanced, Original Sin refers to the idea that the sin of Adam and Eve 's disobedience sin "at the origin" has passed on a spiritual heritage, so to speak. Christians teach that human beings inherit a corrupted or damaged human nature in which the tendency to do bad is greater than it would have been otherwise, so much so that human nature would not be capable now of participating in the afterlife with God.
This is not a matter of being "guilty" of anything; each person is only personally guilty of their own actual sins. However, this understanding of original sin is what lies behind the Christian emphasis on the need for spiritual salvation from a spiritual Saviour, who can forgive and set aside sin even though humans are not inherently pure and worthy of such salvation.
Paul the Apostle in Romans and I Corinthians placed special emphasis on this doctrine, and stressed that belief in Jesus would allow Christians to overcome death and attain salvation in the hereafter. Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and some Protestants teach the Sacrament of Baptism is the means by which each person's damaged human nature is healed and Sanctifying Grace capacity to enjoy and participate in the spiritual life of God is restored. This is referred to as "being born of water and the Spirit", following the terminology in the Gospel of St.
Most Protestants believe this salvific grace comes about at the moment of personal decision to follow Jesus, and that baptism is a symbol of the grace already received. Christians will often use the Septuagint to make distinctions between the types of love: Like many Jewish scholars and theologians, literary critic Harold Bloom understands Judaism as fundamentally a religion of love. But he argues that one can understand the Hebrew conception of love only by looking at one of the core commandments of Judaism, Leviticus Talmudic sages Hillel and Rabbi Akiva commented that this is a major element of the Jewish religion.
Also, this commandment is arguably at the center of the Jewish faith. As the third book of the Torah, Leviticus is literally the central book. Historically, Jews have considered it of central importance: Bernard Bamberger considers Leviticus 19, beginning with God's commandment in verse 3—"You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God, am holy"—to be "the climactic chapter of the book, the one most often read and quoted" The only statements in the Tanakh about the status of a fetus state that killing an unborn infant does not have the same status as killing a born human being, and mandates a much lesser penalty Exodus The Talmud states that the fetus is not yet a full human being until it has been born either the head or the body is mostly outside of the woman , therefore killing a fetus is not murder, and abortion —in restricted circumstances—has always been legal under Jewish law.
Rashi , the great 12th century commentator on the Bible and Talmud, states clearly of the fetus lav nefesh hu: Christians who agree with these views may refer to this idea as abortion before the quickening of the fetus. Judaism unilaterally supports, in fact mandates , abortion if doctors believe that it is necessary to save the life of the woman.
Many rabbinic authorities allow abortions on the grounds of gross genetic imperfections of the fetus. They also allow abortion if the woman were suicidal because of such defects. However, Judaism holds that abortion is impermissible for family planning or convenience reasons. Each case must be decided individually, however, and the decision should lie with the pregnant woman, the man who impregnated her and their Rabbi. Jews and Christians accept as valid and binding many of the same moral principles taught in the Torah. There is a great deal of overlap between the ethical systems of these two faiths.
Nonetheless, there are some highly significant doctrinal differences. Judaism has many teachings about peace and compromise, and its teachings make physical violence the last possible option. Nonetheless, the Talmud teaches that "If someone comes with the intention to murder you, then one is obligated to kill in self-defense [rather than be killed]". The clear implication is that to bare one's throat would be tantamount to suicide which Jewish law forbids and it would also be considered helping a murderer kill someone and thus would "place an obstacle in front of a blind man" i.
The tension between the laws dealing with peace, and the obligation to self-defense, has led to a set of Jewish teachings that have been described as tactical-pacifism. This is the avoidance of force and violence whenever possible, but the use of force when necessary to save the lives of one's self and one's people.
Although killing oneself is forbidden under normal Jewish law as being a denial of God's goodness in the world, under extreme circumstances when there has seemed no choice but to either be killed or forced to betray their religion, Jews have committed suicide or mass suicide see Masada , First French persecution of the Jews , and York Castle for examples. As a grim reminder of those times, there is even a prayer in the Jewish liturgy for "when the knife is at the throat", for those dying "to sanctify God's Name". These acts have received mixed responses by Jewish authorities.
Where some Jews regard them as examples of heroic martyrdom, but others saying that while Jews should always be willing to face martyrdom if necessary, it was wrong for them to take their own lives. Because Judaism focuses on this life, many questions to do with survival and conflict such as the classic moral dilemma of two people in a desert with only enough water for one to survive were analysed in great depth by the rabbis within the Talmud, in the attempt to understand the principles a godly person should draw upon in such a circumstance.
The Sermon on the Mount records that Jesus taught that if someone comes to harm you, then one must turn the other cheek. This has led four Protestant Christian denominations to develop a theology of pacifism , the avoidance of force and violence at all times. They are known historically as the peace churches , and have incorporated Christ's teachings on nonviolence into their theology so as to apply it to participation in the use of violent force; those denominations are the Quakers , Mennonites , Amish , and the Church of the Brethren.
Many other churches have people who hold to the doctrine without making it a part of their doctrines, or who apply it to individuals but not to governments, see also Evangelical counsels. The vast majority of Christian nations and groups have not adopted this theology, nor have they followed it in practice. See also But to bring a sword. Although the Hebrew Bible has many references to capital punishment , the Jewish sages used their authority to make it nearly impossible for a Jewish court to impose a death sentence.
Even when such a sentence might have been imposed, the Cities of Refuge and other sanctuaries, were at hand for those unintentionally guilty of capital offences. It was said in the Talmud about the death penalty in Judaism, that if a court killed more than one person in seventy years, it was a barbarous or "bloody" court and should be condemned as such.
Christianity usually reserved the death penalty for heresy , the denial of the orthodox view of God's view, and witchcraft or similar non-Christian practices. For example, in Spain, unrepentant Jews were exiled, and it was only those crypto-Jews who had accepted baptism under pressure but retained Jewish customs in private, who were punished in this way.
It is presently acknowledged by most of Christianity that these uses of capital punishment were deeply immoral. Orthodox Jews, unlike most Christians, still practice a restrictive diet that has many rules. Most Christians believe that the kosher food laws have been superseded , for example citing what Jesus taught in Mark 7: Eastern Orthodoxy, in particular has very elaborate and strict rules of fasting , and continues to observe the Council of Jerusalem 's apostolic decree of Act Some Christian denominations observe some biblical food laws, for example the practice of Ital in Rastifarianism.
Jehovah's Witnesses do not eat blood products and are known for their refusal to accept blood transfusions based on not "eating blood". Judaism does not see human beings as inherently flawed or sinful and needful of being saved from it, but rather capable with a free will of being righteous, and unlike Christianity does not closely associate ideas of "salvation" with a New Covenant delivered by a Jewish messiah, although in Judaism Jewish people will have a renewed national commitment of observing God's commandments under the New Covenant, and the Jewish Messiah will also be ruling at a time of global peace and acceptance of God by all people.
Judaism holds instead that proper living is accomplished through good works and heartfelt prayer , as well as a strong faith in God. Judaism also teaches that gentiles can receive a share in " the world to come ". This is codified in the Mishna Avot 4: The Protestant view is that every human is a sinner, and being saved by God's grace, not simply by the merit of one's own actions, pardons a damnatory sentence to Hell. In Judaism, one must go to those he has harmed in order to be entitled to forgiveness.
This also means that, unless the victim forgave the perpetrator before he died, murder is unforgivable in Judaism, and they will answer to God for it, though the victims' family and friends can forgive the murderer for the grief they caused them. Thus the "reward" for forgiving others is not God's forgiveness for wrongs done to others, but rather help in obtaining forgiveness from the other person.
To the contrary, we believe that just as only God can forgive sins against God, so only human beings can forgive sins against human beings. In Christianity, forgiveness by God is promised to the repentant even though the wronged party has not forgiven the offender: But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Both Christianity and Judaism believe in some form of judgment.
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Those who have accepted Jesus as their personal saviour will be saved and live in God's presence in the Kingdom of Heaven , those who have not accepted Jesus as their saviour, will be cast into the Lake of Fire eternal torment, finite torment, or simply annihilated , see for example The Sheep and the Goats. In Jewish liturgy there is significant prayer and talk of a "book of life" that one is written into, indicating that God judges each person each year even after death. This annual judgment process begins on Rosh Hashanah and ends with Yom Kippur.
Additionally, God sits daily in judgment concerning a person's daily activities.
Upon the anticipated arrival of the Messiah , God will judge the nations for their persecution of Israel during the exile. Later, God will also judge the Jews over their observance of the Torah. There is little Jewish literature on heaven or hell as actual places, and there are few references to the afterlife in the Hebrew Bible. Another is a mention by the Prophet Daniel of those who sleep in the earth rising to either everlasting life or everlasting abhorrence. Early Hebrew views were more concerned with the fate of the nation of Israel as a whole, rather than with individual immortality.
Pharisees believed that in death, people rest in their graves until they are physically resurrected with the coming of the Messiah, and within that resurrected body the soul would exist eternally. Judaism's view is summed up by a biblical observation about the Torah: In Judaism, Heaven is sometimes described as a place where God debates Talmudic law with the angels, and where Jews spend eternity studying the Written and Oral Torah.
Torah As Holiness: Old Testament 'Law' as Response to Divine Grace
Jews do not believe in "Hell" as a place of eternal torment. Gehenna is a place or condition of purgatory where Jews spend up to twelve months purifying to get into heaven, [ citation needed ] depending on how sinful they have been, although some suggest that certain types of sinners can never be purified enough to go to heaven and rather than facing eternal torment, simply cease to exist.
Therefore, some violations like suicide would be punished by separation from the community, such as not being buried in a Jewish cemetery in practice, rabbis often rule suicides to be mentally incompetent and thus not responsible for their actions. Judaism also does not have a notion of hell as a place ruled by Satan since God's dominion is total and Satan is only one of God's angels. Catholics also believe in a purgatory for those who are going to heaven, but Christians in general believe that Hell is a fiery place of torment that never ceases, called the Lake of Fire.
A small minority believe this is not permanent, and that those who go there will eventually either be saved or cease to exist. Heaven for Christians is depicted in various ways. As the Kingdom of God described in the New Testament and particularly the Book of Revelation , Heaven is a new or restored earth, a World to Come , free of sin and death, with a New Jerusalem led by God, Jesus, and the most righteous of believers starting with , Israelites from every tribe, and all others who received salvation living peacefully and making pilgrimages to give glory to the city.
In Christianity, promises of Heaven and Hell as rewards and punishments are often used to motivate good and bad behavior, as threats of disaster were used by prophets like Jeremiah to motivate the Israelites. Modern Judaism generally rejects this form of motivation, instead teaching to do the right thing because it's the right thing to do.