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What are the basic teachings of Judaism?

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Quick Answer

Judaism is a monotheistic religion that provides justice through the law and encourages a belief in the goodness of creation. The three branches of Judaism vary in their beliefs: Orthodox Judaism is the most traditional, while Reform Judaism is the least traditional. Conservative Judaism is somewhere in between the other two branches.

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Full Answer

There Is One G-d Who Is Eternal

Jewish people believe in one god only, written as "G-d" as a sign of respect in case the writing is trashed later. According to the site Judaism 101 (based on the teachings of Maimonides), G-d is omniscient, not physical, and unique in the universe.

The Scripture Provides a Path

The central text of Judaism is divided into three parts. The Torah, or the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, provides the law, which Jews believe was handed down to Moses from God; Jewish people also believe that it doesn't change nor can it be replaced. The Nevi'im is prophetic, while the Ketuvim contains the writings, such as Kings and Chronicles. The other central text of Judaism is the Talmud, which is a collection of laws and interpretations, including stories told and passed down by rabbis. Reform Jews do not believe the Talmud is divine. The scriptures prescribe how Jewish people should live to be in the right relationship with God. However, how those scriptures are followed depends on the branch. For instance, Orthodox Jews follow the law strictly, keeping a kosher diet, while Reform Jews follow a code of ethics but don't keep kosher.

Creation Is Basically Good

According to the Arizona State University page on Judaism, Jewish people believe in the basic goodness of creation. That is, through following the law and praying, Jewish people create their relationship with God without the need for someone to intercede on their behalf.

Good Is Rewarded; Evil is Punished

Though Jewish people believe creation is essentially good, the law provides a way for people to be in the right relationship with G-d. Therefore, those who follow the law or do good are rewarded while those who don't are punished.

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