The Rabbinic Age of Judaism Essay

1172 Words Nov 21st, 2010 5 Pages
The banishment and exile of Jews from the ancient Kingdom Judah to Babylon resulted in dramatic changes to Jewish culture and religion. This allowed the circumstances for the development of various sects, each of which claimed exclusive authority to represent "Judaism"; marriage with members of other sects is forbidden. Although priests controlled the rituals of the Temple, the scribes and sages, later called rabbis dominated the study of the Torah. These sages identified with the Prophets and developed and maintained an oral tradition that they believed had originated at Mount Sinai. The Pharisees had its origins in this new system.
One of the factors that distinguished the Pharisees from other groups preceding the destruction of the
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They applied Jewish law to ordinary activities in order to sanctify the every-day world. This was a more participatory form of Judaism, in which rituals were not monopolized by an inherited priesthood but rather could be performed by all Jews individually, or collectively. The Pharisees believed a leader was not determined by birth but by scholarly achievement. In general, the Pharisees emphasized a commitment to social justice, belief in the brotherhood of mankind, a faith in the redemption of the Jewish nation and, ultimately, humanity. Moreover, they believed that these ends would be achieved through halakha, a body of laws derived from a close reading of sacred texts. This belief entailed both a commitment to relate religion to ordinary concerns and daily life, and a commitment to study and scholarly debate.
In some cases, Pharisaic values led to an extension of the law. For example, the Torah requires priests to bathe themselves before entering the Temple. The Pharisees washed themselves before Sabbath and festival meals, and eventually before all meals. Although this seems burdensome compared to other practices, but in other cases, Pharisaic law was less strict. For example, Biblical law prohibits Jews from carrying objects from a private domain to a public domain on the Sabbath. This law could have prevented Jews from carrying cooked dishes to the homes of friends for Sabbath meals. The

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