Cover image for Jews and Mormons : two houses of Israel
Title:
Jews and Mormons : two houses of Israel
Author:
Johnson, Frank J., 1930-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Hoboken, NJ : Ktav Pub. House, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
xii, 243 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780881256895
Format :
Book

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Central Library BX8643.J84 J64 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

In an era when interfaith religious dialogue is becoming more common, Jews and Mormons is one of the most unusual examples of the genre. The two authors first met as roommates at Dartmouth College. Their discussions of religion over the years, marked by a high degree of knowledge and seriousness, form the basis for this very special volume. In eight alternating chapters, the authors describe and explain their respective religion. In the ninth and final chapter, they discuss the similarities and differences between the two faiths, and areas of mutual misunderstanding. Their book fills a vital intellectual gap, for Jews and Mormons know very little about one another. Perhaps most fascinating from the standpoint of Jewish readers, it explains how and why the Church of Latter-day Saints sees itself as a branch of the biblical House of Israel and therefore in a special relationship with the Jewish people as well as with the modern State of Israel.


Author Notes

Rabbi William J. Leffler was ordained at the Hebrew Union College and is now retired.
Frank J. Johnson, also retired, is a Mormon high priest


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Johnson is a Mormon high priest, Leffler is a retired rabbi, and the two were roommates at Dartmouth College in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Their purpose in writing this book is to promote greater interreligious understanding for both Jewish and Mormon readers, as well as to overcome some of the difficulties in communication between the two religions. Each author has written four chapters explaining some of the basic ideas, beliefs, and practices of his religion, noting the similarities and differences between the two faiths. In a final chapter, written together, the authors summarize their respective religious positions and list some of the sources of friction and misunderstanding. Johnson also explains why the Mormon church sees itself as a branch of the biblical house of Israel, a belief that the Jews reject. But Jews and Mormons will surely inform and enlarge the dialogue between the two religions. --George Cohen


Library Journal Review

Who could possibly argue that dialog between people of different religions is a bad idea? When those engaged in the conversation have been friends for over 50 years (and former Dartmouth College roommates, to boot), the potential for intercultural understanding is enormous. Eight of the nine chapters here were individually written by either Leffler (a retired rabbi) or Johnson (a convert and retired Mormon high priest) on some aspect of their faiths and practices. The concluding chapter is coauthored and points out areas of friction and misunderstanding, as well as some striking similarities. Here, their obvious goodwill is evident. Though clearly of divergent worldviews even on basic questions, the authors manage a civility borne of obvious affection that is a model for such dialogs. Members of both religious groups will broaden their horizons by reading this book. Recommended for public libraries with interested clientele."David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One The Basis and Background of Judaism     Judaism is the religion, or, one might say, the religions, of the Jewish people. We prefer the plural because Judaism has changed greatly over the course of the centuries. One cannot claim to understand present-day Judaism simply because he is familiar with the religious beliefs and practices of the Hebrew Bible (or the Old Testament, as Christianity calls this collection of ancient literature). Similarly, one cannot fully understand organized Christianity today solely because he has read the New Testament, or, more specifically for our purpose, one cannot understand the present structure of the Mormon Church because he has read the Book of Mormon. Both Judaism and Mormonism are far more than their basic literature. They are the end products of their respective histories. Each has grown and matured in its thinking, outlook, and practices since its inception: Judaism from its beginnings in the Pentateuch, and Mormonism since the revelation to Joseph Smith at Palmyra, New York.     Both religions are the products of revelation, each in its own way. Judaism began with God revealing Himself to Abraham and commanding him to leave his home. Isaac, Jacob, and Moses all conversed with God. The biblical prophets expanded on these early revelations, conveying their own revelations from God to the people of their time. The end result is the story of the Children of Israel as recounted in the pages of the Hebrew Bible.     Contrary to what many non-Jews may think, however, Judaism is not primarily biblical. In fact, it is far more postbiblical in nature. Many of its most distinctive features are based upon the Oral Torah, a huge body of interpretations, spiritual insights, and understandings of the many layers and nuances of meaning found in Scripture offered by the rabbis over the centuries. The Oral Torah embodies a sense of ongoing revelation, though in a very different way from what we find in the Written Torah, that is, the Pentateuch. In essence, the Oral Torah is an ever increasing body of Jewish sacred literature that seeks to fathom the multileveled meanings in the Bible and to understand God more fully as He relates to any given situation. According to Jewish tradition, the two Torahs are of one piece, for as Rabbi Dov-Ber Pinson, an Orthodox rabbi, states, "the oral tradition is one with the written, and it is impossible to understand one without the other." The Bible begins with the Five Books of Moses, known in Hebrew as the Torah, or more specifically for our use here, the Written Torah. The word Torah does not mean "law", as it is often translated, but rather "teach" or "instruction" and is akin to the Hebrew word for teacher.     In sharp contrast, Mormonism, as understood by Latter-day Saints, is the product of God's revelation to Joseph Smith in 1820 in Palmyra, New York, and the subsequent development of a religion based upon that revelation, as well as subsequent revelations to the leaders of the church since that time. These forms of postbiblical revelation are extremely different, with the Oral Torah comprising centuries of interpretations and insights into the biblical text, and the Mormon one claiming a relatively recent direct link to God.     Akin to the different understandings of what revelation means, and just as important for a sound comparison of the two religions, is an awareness of the fundamental difference in outlook between them. As the reader will see in Mr. Johnson's chapters, he frequently presents a dichotomy of right or wrong, true or false. Mormonism tends to view the world in this fashion. There are few gray areas; very little ambivalence. It is an either/or approach to life's questions and situations. In sharp contrast, Judaism's approach is both/and. We tend to see nuances, options, alternatives in many of life's challenges. As a result, Judaism may well encompass conflicting views on the same subject without feeling a need to accept one and negate the other. For a good illustration of how this approach is implemented in practice in regard to specific, real questions that arise in the course of life, see the rabbinic materials quoted in Appendix 3.     The both/and approach is reflected in the ability of many modernist Jews to accept the Written Torah as pertinent religious teaching, a fundamental element of our religion, and at the same time to recognize that the accounts of events in Genesis and Exodus may not be historically accurate. Modern Jews are not disturbed by the findings of biblical scholars who conclude that the Pentateuch was compiled by different authors and redactors over a period of many centuries and reflect their editing of the events it reports. This approach also permits Judaism to take a situational view of ethical questions, though still maintaining the overarching principle on which they are based. In this respect it is very different from the position presented by Mormon leader Elder William R. Bradford in his October 1999 General Conference address entitled "Righteousness," in which he states, "In every case which confronts us in life there is either a right way or a wrong way to proceed."     With these brief introductory comparisons we turn to the basis and background of Judaism. In the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Pentateuch, or Written Torah, we find the beginnings of monotheism among the Hebrew patriarchs--Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--unlike Mormonism which has many more patriarchs. God revealed Himself and communicated with the patriarchs in many ways. He first spoke directly with Abraham when he commanded him to leave Ur of the Chaldees and become a blessing to the world. He spoke to him through the voice of an angel in the biblical episode known as the Akedah, the "binding" of Isaac and his near-sacrifice in Genesis 22. He communicated through dreams in the account of Jacob's ladder and in the stories of the dreams that Joseph interpreted to his brothers and to Pharaoh. Worship took place at high places or at altars that the patriarchs built for their animal sacrifices. There was no functioning intermediary priesthood in the religion of Genesis in either the Aaronite or the Melchizedek tradition, nor were there any words associated with the sacrifices that resemble what we call prayer today. What we read was primarily in the nature of bargains: "If you, God, will do such-and-such, then I will ..." There were no holidays to observe. There were no ethical commandments or ritual acts to be fulfilled, although Abraham is certainly aware of appropriate ethical behavior when he argues with God prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The religion of this period is quite straightforward and basic. In essence, it is the rather simple religion of a family (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his children) groping to know a God who has called them from among all other families and singled them out to serve Him alone.     In Exodus, the second book of the Bible, Judaism began to develop from the religion of a family into the religion of a larger group, the Jewish people. This people, under the leadership of Moses, left the slavery they had known in Egypt and began forty years of wandering in the Wilderness of Sinai. The seminal event of this period was their encounter with God at Mount Sinai, where they experienced a theophany, a profound revelation from God. They made a covenant (the Hebrew word is b'rit ), a bargain, even a contract, with God, specifying that they would be His people and He would be their God, continuing the covenant made with Abraham. They received the Ten Commandments, as well as other laws and statutes that were intended to govern their corporate life. Exodus contains the first references to the Sabbath (aside from the creation story at the beginning of Genesis) and to the five major Jewish holidays: Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost), Rosh Hashanah (New Year; though only later called by this name; in Exodus it is the Day of the Horn Blast), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and Sukkot (Booths or Tabernacles). Jews still celebrate all of these holidays, although in ways far different from what the biblical text describes.     The Book of Exodus, then, recounts the beginning of Judaism as the religion of the Jewish people, who became a religiously distinct people in the pages of history, and have continued to worship their God until this very day, although in ways far different from what we find in Exodus.     Whether the books of Exodus and Genesis are factual accounts of the events they report is of lesser importance to us as a people of faith than the spiritual insights and lessons they convey. Reflective of our both/and outlook, the non-traditionalist Jew is able to accommodate in his understanding of the Bible both modern scholarship, which questions the historical accuracy of its narratives, as well as the Oral Torah tradition, which provides us with a means of understanding its religious lessons. The modernist Jew does not bring his secular understanding of the text to his religious understanding of it. For the traditionalist modern biblical scholarship is not a concern.     The remaining three books of the Torah--Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy--deal with the establishment of a priestly class known as Kohanim (the descendants of Aaron, not of Melchizedek) as well as its helper tribe, the Levites. These books also describe the building of the Tabernacle as a place of worship and look forward to a Temple to be built at some future time, in which the priests and Levites are to officiate at ritual sacrifices. The Sabbath and the five holidays are further discussed, some in much greater detail than others. There are many laws directed at both personal and communal behavior, teaching ethical and ritual principles intended to guide the people in every aspect of their lives. These books contain the rudiments of a formalized religion that was further expanded upon and developed by the biblical prophets and even more so by rabbis, sages, and teachers from biblical times until the present.     As mentioned above, many Jews today, especially non-traditionalists, view the Torah, not as literally accurate history, but as religious literature incorporating historical narratives, legends, laws, ethics, and accounts of Judaism's beginnings, a literature that tells us of our early ongoing relationship with God. While many traditionalist Jews (a term we will discuss below) may accept the biblical account of creation, the stories of the patriarchs, or the Exodus saga as actual historical events, their emphasis, too, is far more focused on the religious lessons and spiritual insights to be learned from these narratives through the Oral Torah than on spending time verifying their accuracy. The modernist Jew is not concerned about the historical accuracy of these accounts. He can view them as a product of their time and place without specifying which parts are the product of human editing and which are historically accurate. As the Bible is open to many different modern scholarly theories as to its origins, the religious lessons found in the text take precedence. And while there are Jewish biblical archaeologists among the scholars searching the ancient ruins of Israel today, there is no institution in Judaism devoted to verifying the historical accuracy of the biblical record.     In contrast, the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies does attempt to establish the historical plausibility of the Mormon Scriptures. This kind of academic investigation to verify the biblical accounts and the beginnings of our religion is not a primary Jewish concern in the same way. Here then is another difference that Mormons encounter when they try to understand Judaism. Substantiating the historical accuracy of the text (not just the first two books, but all of Scripture) is not the focus of our concern; rather it is the religious lessons and spiritual insights we can garner from the text that merit our attention, as illustrated in the passage from the rabbinic interpretation of Psalm 9 quoted in Appendix 2.     Judaism utilizes the original Hebrew language of the Torah to study and understand Scripture. Some Hebrew words have more than one meaning or do not translate very well into English, as was noted above in regard to the word torah . Therefore, the Mormon concern for the biblical text "as far as it is translated correctly" is meaningless for Jews.     Since many Hebrew words have more than one meaning, especially key words pertaining to important theological and ritual concepts, there cannot be a single "correct" translation. This is no problem for Jewish readers of the Bible, however, for taken together the several possible renderings of any term in English enhance and enrich our understanding of what the original Hebrew Scripture is telling us. Furthermore, Jewish tradition, the Oral Torah, posits that there are special insights, teachings, and truths that go far beyond what is apparent in the literal text. These are embodied in the specific words of any given passage of the Torah. They can be discovered if one analyzes such matters as the specific grammatical form in any given passage (e.g., plural vs. singular, masculine vs. feminine, one tense instead of another), or the choice of a particular word instead of some synonym. Even the shapes of the individual letters or how something is spelled where there is more than one possible spelling, as well as any ideas suggested by puns, wordplays, or homonyms can provide insights. If the Torah were in English rather than Hebrew, for example, Jewish expositors might seek to find the relation between red and read if both appeared in the same passage, or, say, between mouse as an animal and as a computer tool; again, see Appendix 2 for some illustrations. These are all vectors to an understanding of God and what He expects of us as His children created in His spiritual image, that is His moral and emotional attributes, and not in His physical image, as Mormonism posits.     Every generation of Jews has searched through the text of the Hebrew Bible, its words and its letters, seeking an ever-increasing meaning within them. This provides Judaism with a way of interpreting the Bible through the Oral Torah, going far more intensely into the nuances of meaning found in the texts of these five books as well as all the other books of Scripture, far beyond the literal words themselves.     The idea of the Oral Torah, as indicated earlier, is based on the rabbinic teaching that God gave Moses two Torahs at Mount Sinai. One was written down: the Pentateuch, the outer layer of God's revelation. The second layer of revelation, transmitted orally to Moses and thus called the Oral Torah, contains all the countless insights and interpretations that can be found in the written text, as well as the means of comprehending them to the fullest. These are the inner layers of the text. In our effort to understand the biblical text, our religious knowledge and understanding continue to increase. Oral Torah becomes a form of ongoing revelation (very different from what Mormonism knows as revelation) and is the basis for Judaism's vast literary heritage dealing with ideas and behavior, in essence extending revelation into each succeeding generation.     Before considering the Oral Torah in greater detail, we need to stop for a moment and discuss revelation as we find it in the prophetic books of Scripture. Since the first century B.C.E., Judaism has held that this form of revelation, that is, God speaking directly to a prophet who then transmits the message to the people, ceased in the time of Ezra. Ever since, as far as Judaism is concerned, there have been no more prophets in the biblical sense. Thus, from the Jewish standpoint, neither Jesus nor Joseph Smith, nor anyone else, can be considered a prophet.     Why the rabbis declared that prophecy had ended in the time of Ezra is not clear; neither the Bible nor the rabbinic literature spells out their reasoning. However, judging from some of the apocryphal works from the period between the end of the Hebrew Bible and the writing of the New Testament, the decision was probably impelled by the appearance of many men calling themselves prophets during the dark days of the Syrian and Roman persecutions, prophets with very different and often conflicting messages.     We do not know who made the decision, nor exactly where or when. What we do know is that prophecy had become a babble of tongues, and from then on there was to be no more revelation in Judaism in the classical sense, nor would Judaism accept the revelations of other religions. The accepted method of religious insight, from then on, was the Oral Torah, a totally new form of revelation. In it the rabbis often spoke of communicating directly with God, not in the earlier prophetic fashion, but through study, discussion, and interpretation of the biblical text, which to them was God's word.     The Pharisees, genuine innovators in Judaism who were, unfortunately and inaccurately, maligned in the pages of the New Testament, developed this method of biblical interpretation sometime in the first century before the birth of Jesus. The New Testament uses it freely, quoting the Hebrew Bible to support points it wishes to make. In modern times this is known as the proof-texting methodology; that is, one cites a proof-text in the Bible to establish an idea. Both Judaism and Christianity continue to use this method, each in its own way, to support their scripturally based beliefs (for a glimpse at how the method functioned in the ancient rabbinic literature, see Appendix 2).     The eighth chapter of this book will serve, among other things, as an illustration of proof-texting at work, as used by Mormonism to derive from the Bible and from its own sacred literature its claim to affinity with ancient Israel and modern Judaism. This method brings together different texts to present a specific idea not necessarily found in full in any one of them. Mr. Johnson, in accord with his religious heritage, uses it to convince the reader of the truth of the Mormon message, an approach which Jews find highly conversionist in nature.     We can now return to our consideration of Scripture. The Judaism of the Torah developed more fully in the remainder of the Bible. The literary prophets--Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea, and the others--spoke at length about ethical issues and the type of behavior that was acceptable or not acceptable to God, both for the individual and for the Jewish people as a whole. King Solomon built a Temple in Jerusalem in which proper worship was to occur, with the Aaronite priesthood (not the Melchizedek), assisted by the Levites, officiating at the sacrificial services, and strong injunctions by some of the prophets against worshiping at other sites. Many of the Psalms appear to have been used in the Temple worship as prayers and hymns, speaking to God and about God in beautiful poetic language.     Other biblical works help us to further understand the nature of God: Jonah conveys a sense of God's concern for all humanity; Job tries to answer the question of why there is evil; Proverbs speaks to human understanding and wisdom; Lamentations mourns the destruction of Jerusalem; Ruth not only describes the love between a woman and her mother-in-law, but is also the earliest record of an individual converting to Judaism. And there is much more.     The Hebrew Bible then, as a whole, is primarily a book about the Jewish people and its growing relationship with God, recounting both its achievements and its failings. While the Bible came to have universal appeal, with both Christianity and Islam holding it in great esteem and regarding it as foundational to their respective faiths, historically its primary focus continues to be the Jewish people.     But Judaism did not cease developing with the Bible. as we have already indicated. A couple of centuries after the time of Ezra (ca. 400 B.C.E.), a group of religious teachers, about whose origins we know very little, came to the fore and moved Judaism well beyond its biblical roots. This group, known as the Pharisees, used the Oral Torah to add many new spiritual insights, ideas, and practices to Judaism by juxtaposing passages from different sections of the Bible. Pulling together and quoting biblical texts, they enhanced Judaism's spiritual life. They developed the belief in an afterlife, which is not directly mentioned in the Bible, with its hope of a reward for the righteous and punishment for the wicked. But as Sheol in the Bible, they did not spell out the details of the afterlife, unlike the emphasis given it in Mormonism.     The Pharisees understood that God need not be worshiped solely with sacrifices in the Temple in Jerusalem, but that acceptable worship could also occur with words in an alternative place of worship, called a synagogue. This place of worship is not mentioned even once in the Bible. It appears to have developed some time after the period of the Maccabees (about 150 B.C.E.) as it is not mentioned in either of the books of Maccabees found in the Apocrypha. However, the synagogue was so well developed by the time of the birth of Jesus that it was found throughout the Jewish world of his time. The New Testament tells us that both Jesus and Paul regularly frequented synagogues. Its pattern of worship, using words rather than sacrificial rituals, became the model for church worship with prayers, hymns, sermons, and Bible readings.     The Pharisees fleshed out the rudimentary observance of the Sabbath and the holidays found in the Torah. They developed special rituals that symbolically conveyed the spiritual and historical meaning of the Sabbath and holidays: the blessings welcoming the Sabbath and the ritual of the Passover Seder, to name but a couple. They taught ethical maxims and applied them to life's situations. They began to develop an elaborate code of moral and ritual commandments, known as Halachah--a Hebrew word related to the verb meaning "walk" or "go," and best understood as the "way" in which one ought to go, that is, conduct oneself, both ethically and ritually. The Halachah eventually came to direct every detail of the life of an observant Jew from the moment he awoke in the morning until the time he retired at night.     In subsequent years, as the Jews were dispersed to many different countries, the philosophical currents of the cultures in which they lived had an impact on Jewish thought. Perhaps the best illustration of this tendency was the philosopher Moses Maimonides, who was born in Spain and lived in Egypt in the latter part of the twelfth century. Maimonides book is the Guide of the Perplexed , attempts to synthesize Jewish thought with the neo-Aristotelian philosophy of the Middle Ages. Over the centuries there have been countless other rabbis whose teachings and writings have had a significant impact on Judaism. In addition, poets have added beautiful words to the synagogue worship and to Jewish literature. Teachers have embellished the observance of holidays.     As time passed and conditions changed, Jewish communities often faced new and confusing problems that required answers in accordance with the Halachah. They directed such questions to leading rabbis known for their sagacious judgment and knowledge of the Halachah. These rabbinic decisors would respond with thoughtful analyses and recommendations, known as responsa, based upon thorough research in the vast library of halachic writings that had accumulated over the centuries, ever trying to increase the individual Jew's understanding of what was proper religious behavior in every situation in life. The responsa process is still going on in our own day, for questions requiring religious guidance continually come up in the real world. As even a casual perusal of the responsa will show (see, for example, the two examples included in Appendix 3), these questions at first glance appear to be as much secular as religious, for to Judaism, every aspect of life is religious; nothing is outside the scope of religious concern or judgment.     Judaism also has a mystical aspect, known as the Kabbalah (sometimes spelled Cabala). Jewish mystics believe that the Torah is the word of God in its every word, every letter, and even the way in which the letters are written on the Torah scroll. Consequently there must be hidden meanings in all of these forms. The mystical tradition searches the Torah to seek out insights and messages that the ordinary person will not see, often comparing how the same word is written in different passages, unusual usages of words, unusual spellings, and in many other ways constantly seeking to bring the individual Jew closer to God through a deeper appreciation of the Torah in its every facet.     One of the favorite methods of the mystics utilizes the numerical values of Hebrew words. This approach, known as gematria, is based on the fact that the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are also numbers, so that every word in the Torah has a numerical value that can be calculated by adding up the values of the letters comprising it. The mystics believe that there are profound relationships, conveying hidden meanings, between seemingly unrelated words, phrases, or sentences that have the same numerical value.     The mystics also applied their way of comprehending God's word to Jewish rituals, adding greater sanctity of meaning to their observances. They developed an elaborate symbolism for God's celestial kingdom, attempting to understand Him better and to draw ever closer to Him. Throughout Jewish history mysticism has existed alongside the more rationalistic manifestations of Judaism, though not always amicably. It has conveyed its spiritual understanding of God and human life to Jews who would attune themselves to its deepest mysteries.     In modern times, as a living religion, Judaism has continued to develop. Traditional Judaism (also known as Orthodoxy) has consolidated the rituals and many of the ideas of the past into very set ways. Modernist Jews (members of Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist denominations) have attempted to reformulate many of the rituals and ideas for our time, the aim being to retain those which appear to be relevant and appropriate for modern life, while laying aside those which seem to have lost their relevance.     Unlike Christianity, though, the distinctions between the traditionalist and modernist approaches are more often focused on matters of ritual behavior than on the niceties of theological debate and belief. Moreover, the changes made by the modernists are not "writ in stone." Thus today's non-traditionalists are reevaluating rituals and ideas that were discarded a century ago, and many of these have come back into practice and belief. Judaism, as the "religions" of a living people, functions in this way, which can surely be confusing to Mormons.     Judaism has changed greatly since the time of the Bible, always with the intent of adapting to the challenges it has encountered over the centuries. It will no doubt continue to change as it meets the challenges of the future. The Jewish religion is the ongoing product of the covenant that Abraham made with God so long ago, and which the entire people renewed at the foot of Mount Sinai.     The covenant brought with it for the Jewish people a collective acceptance of a special relationship of service to God, one which has been maintained over the centuries. We express it regularly in both word and deed. We express it in the blessing recited before the reading of the Torah in the synagogue, when we declare that God "has chosen us from all peoples and given us His Torah." We state it in the ritual circumcision ceremony of each male infant on the eighth day after birth. This ceremony, known as B'rit Milah, the Covenant of Circumcision, is a time when we joyfully welcome a newborn child into the family of Israel, praying that his future will be one of religious study, a happy and blessed marriage, and a life filled with deeds of loving kindness.     A sense of religious purpose as well as historical continuity, in a way that Mormonism does not know with its emphasis on freedom of choice in religion, is a part of the everyday life of the observant Jew, who is expected to fulfill countless mitzvot (ritual and ethical obligations) and to praise God regularly for this privilege as he performs them.     Judaism is a religion that encompasses all of life. This understanding is best epitomized by the injunction in Leviticus 19, where God commands the Children of Israel to be holy as He is holy. In fact, this is the very purpose of Judaism: to sanctify life, to add a sense of holiness to everything we do, from the most mundane to the most sacred. The numerous ethical injunctions found in this chapter of the Torah are a précis of how a Jewish person is expected to behave in order to sanctify his life, perhaps best compacted in the words found in verse 18: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."     Through our awareness of this teaching, and many others, we bring holiness into our daily actions. In Judaism ethics is integral to religion and the religious life. No human action can be excluded from religious scrutiny.     To assist us in retaining this awareness, Jews recite many blessings aimed at reminding us of God's presence in our lives in everything we do--from waking in the morning, to tasting a new fruit, to performing our bodily functions, to fulfilling the ritual commandments. All of these blessings, begin with the phrase "Blessed are you, O Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe," words reflective of our intimate relationship with God, as indicated by the use of the word "you." This introductory formula is followed either by a reference to the situation we are acknowledging or, when it comes to an activity, whether ritual or otherwise, in which we are about to engage, with the additional words, "who has sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded that we do such-and-such"--whatever it is for which we are reciting the blessing.     Jews view themselves as having covenanted with God to sanctify all of life. This obligation occurs in every life situation. It is reflected in our words of prayer, not just in the synagogue but throughout the entire day. It makes Judaism a religion primarily of doing rather than of believing. Thus Judaism is far more than a "faith" in the usual English, Christian usage of the word. Rather, it is a religion in a much broader sense: one that encompasses an ancient and historic people, that sees all human behavior as open to God's judgment, with a rich tradition of beliefs and practices. For us, doing is the way we show our faith. Copyright © 2000 Frank J. Johnson and William J. Leffler. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prefacep. ix
1. The Basis and Background of Judaismp. 1
2. The Basis and Background of Mormonismp. 21
3. Jewish Religious Ideasp. 41
4. The Purpose of Mormonismp. 61
5. Jewish Lifep. 81
6. Mormonism in Practicep. 105
7. Differences and Similaritiesp. 131
8. Mormonism and the House of Israelp. 147
9. Areas of Misunderstanding and Discussionp. 173
Appendicesp. 207
1. Prayer of Orson Hydep. 207
2. Midrash on Psalm 9p. 213
3. The Responsa Literaturep. 221
Glossaryp. 229

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