Category Archives: Judaism

Who Is My God? 2/E: An Innovative Guide to Finding Your

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The Sicarii (Assassins), so-called because of the daggers (sica) they carried, arose about 54 ce, according to Josephus, as a group of bandits who kidnapped or murdered those who had found a modus vivendi with the Romans. We check each entry to make sure it is relatively interesting, not patently offensive, and at least superficially plausible. An angel guided Moses's hand to the coal, and he put it into his mouth, leaving him with a life-long speech impediment (Ex. 4:10).

Between Silence and Speech: Essays on Jewish Thought

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Daniel 12:2 says, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence." Islam expanded into areas controlled by the Byzantine Empire (largely Greek-speaking and Orthodox Christian, but with a diverse population) and the Sassanian Empire (officially Zoroastrian and Persian-speaking, but also diverse). Jewish sacred texts and literature have little to say about what happens after death, which may seem surprising to non-Jews since the sacred texts of Christianity and Islam, both of which have their foundations in Judaism, elaborate rather fully about the afterlife.

The Ethical Treaties of Berachya, Son of Rabbi Natronai

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When a loose tribal confederation was replaced by a national state under Kings Saul and David a national Temple in Jerusalem helped unify the people spiritually. But, this governing body of men was to be greatly different from the priestly Sopherim. Lincoln represents the triumph of bold action in favor of abstract justice against legal barriers. The European branches of these movements proved more successful and important than their American counter-parts, especially as Jewish life proved more precarious than in North America.

Studies in Jewish Theology: Reflections in the Mirror of

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Nonetheless, the rabbinic discourse about scientific matters was unsystematic, primarily because it was embedded in the interpretation of Scriptures. Billionaire Bishop Edir Macedo, head of the Brazilian mega-church Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), will be laying a cornerstone in a ceremony to take place tomorrow, December 17th, at Machaneh Gilgal. We offer solidarity to the people of France and remind them they are not alone, as an attack on them is an attack on all of us.

Jewishness and the Human Dimension

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In truth, however, few Jews -- Zionist or not -- emigrate from the United States to Israel. Of special importance is the advice they give to religious soldiers. One of the primary problems of early Christianity was that of heresy. The anti-Jewish riots in Spain and their consequences stimulated the anti-intellectualism of the rabbinate. In short, most Israeli Jews accept the legitimacy and support the maintenance of the continuity of Jewish tradition, even though they may not care to observe every jot and tittle of it.

The Gutnick Edition Chumash: The Book of Genesis, With

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However, the earliest recorded information seems to have originated much earlier than that but from outside China. Most of the surviving members eventually settled in Palestine. Since a religious person does his good deed not necessarily for its own sake, but because he has been instructed to do so by God, then, by Kant’s definition, his act is non-moral. A wealth of kabbalistic writings was produced, including the Zohar ("splendor") of Moses de Leon (13th century).

Renewing the Process of Creation: A Jewish Integration of

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It is marked by the solemn reading of the Ten Commandments in the synagogue. No doubt, many Jewish 'doves' are of the opinion that such conquest should be deferred to a time when Israel will be stronger than it is now, or that there would be, hopefully, a 'peaceful conquest', that is, that the Arab rulers or peoples would be 'persuaded' to cede the land in question in return for benefits which the Jewish state would then confer on them.

The Minyanaires

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Let me give a few examples. 'Not doing any work' on the sabbath. As The Hatam Sofer’s famous innovation says, ‘anything new is prohibited by the Torah’). Notice, THEY MADE THEM APPEAR as if they were actual traditions of Moses! Koch wrote a series of columns in the New York Post earlier this year criticizing me and journalist Robert Novak for inviting Min. Often, secular Jews quest for spirituality -- sometimes turning to Jewish ideas and practices, even if they never fully return to the religious practices of their ancestors.

Why I Am A Jew - Scholar's Choice Edition

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We are deeply committed to democracy; human rights and social justice; and religious pluralism. Their lives were centered in the study of the Scriptures and in teaching the Law of YEHOVAH God. It must be reclaimed in our conceptions of how law develops, how people develop, and, in the broadest possible sense, "What God wants." Christian Zionists work closely with religious and secular Jewish Zionist organizations and the Israeli government, particularly during periods when the more conservative Likud Party is in control of the Israeli Knesset (parliament).

Between Muslim and Jew: The Problem of Symbiosis under Early

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The rest of the sects were minor in importance. Each movement/organization has its particular agenda and mix of issues and policies that define where on the spectrum of movement versus club it sits. Sinai, divine instruction was given to Moses, who then imparted these teachings in written form to the assembled Israelite masses; the moment that it becomes a "confessional" community, bound together by a common faith in a Creator-God and committed to his service Construction of the First Temple- a permanent sanctuary, designed to replace the portable tent (or "Tabernacle"( of Moses; time, wherein prayers and animal sacrifices were offered to YHWH; after Solomon's death, the northern tribes formed Israel and the southern tribe called itself Judah; the northern kingdom was invaded by the Assyrians, and the southern kingdom by the Babylonians (who destroyed the First Temple) began with the gradual return of a relatively small band of Judean exiles from Babylonia, following the Persian conquest of the Babylonian empire; the First Temple was rebuilt; the movement of Jews between Babylonia and "Yehud" (as the Persians called Judah) provided for the passage of ideas and literature from Mesopotamia to the land of Israel; formation of Jewish Scriptures can be dated to this period (scribes and priests gather ed edited these books); in the absence of a Jewish nation-state, religious leadership within the Jewish community fell to the priesthood and to an intellectual class connected to the Priesthood (these two groups formed the "Men of the Great Assembly"); by the 200 BC, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible had already reached a sufficient state of finality to allow Greek-speaking news to translate it from Hebrew into Greek (the Septuagint); increasing tension within the Jewish community between those who favored social and intellectual assimilation into Greek (and, later, Roman) culture and those who resisted such assimilation in favor or preserving "traditional" values and religious practices- this led to the gradual appearance of religious "parties" whose influence on Jewish belief and practices few during the period of Roman domination and occupation of Palestine religious "party" in Second Temple period;appear to have commanded the attention and loyalty of the Jewish masses; believed in the "Oral Torah"- the teachings imparted to God by Moses on Sinai; taught that torah incorporated a belief in both the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the dead religious "party" in Second Temple period;influence on Judaism of the time was much weaker; drew constituents mostly from priestly families; believed only in written scriptures, not in Oral Torah; tended toward literalism in their understanding of Scripture and therefore could find no warrant for believing in either immortality or resurrection; most accommodating of Roman rule religious "party" in Second Temple period; general term designating groups of devout Jews who has withdrawn from society in protect against the moral and spiritual corruption of their contemporaries; had eschatological beliefs (beliefs that the End-Time of divine judgment and global catastrophe was at hand); wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest copies of the Jewish Scriptures known to exist today (found in caves near their settlements not until 1947-1956) religious "party" in Second Temple period; revolutionaries; eager to see the Romans driven from the land of Israel and looked forward to a restoration of Israel's sovereignty and of its monarchy; believing that god would fight on their side, they sought to expel the Roman army through direct action also called Rabbinic Age (70AD-700AD); synagogue provided a substitute for the Temple, but it was never like the Temple a place of animal sacrifice, nor was it under the control of a priesthood (the Temple could only stand in one place, but a synagogue could be built anywhere); marked the emergence of a religious intellectuals known as Rabbis (who saw themselves as sages or wisdom teachers); signature accomplishment was the writing and compilation of the Talmud, which was soon seen as a second Torah collection of expansive, often highly imaginative interpretations of biblical law; its format is dialogical (that is, a series of question-and-answer exchanges); practical objective of all these debates was the creation of an authoritative form of ritual behavior- referred to in Hebrew as halacha- that would enable the observant Jew to sanctify daily life and fulfill the commandments imparted to Moses on Sinai; two stages of formation of Talmud: 1) Mishnah ("repetition") is written in Hebrew and consists of economical formulations of halacha, often accompanied by an attribution to a particular rabbinic scholar, 2)Gemara ("completion") is written in Aramaic and the rabbinic debates recorded there often take up where the Mishnah leaves off those early followers of Jesus, who may have thought of him as a prophet, or even a Messiah-figure, were soon displaced by those who saw Jesus as the "Son of God", and who eventually came to believe in him as the incarnate human form of YHWH; in Judaism, the deity was a transcendent being, and any material representation of God was merely a metaphor, while in Christianity, the embodiment of the divine in Jesus as the "Christ" soon became a central doctrine; in Christianity, the Church was uniquely empowered to enable those in a state of sin to obtain forgiveness and true righteousness (through the sacrifice of Jesus), while Jews believed that good works could help one obtain divine mercy; with the Roman Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity, Judaism found itself facing a religious and political, violent antagonist (institutionalized hatred) 500AD-1600AD; Jewish Diaspora stretched very far (Askenazim= Jews in Europe, Sephardim= Jews living Spain, Portugal, and parts of North Africa; Mizrachim= Jews living in various parts of the Middle East); some of most creative developments in Judaism took place during this period; as the Palestinian Jewish community dwindled, the center of Jewish intellectual life shifted to Babylonia challenged Jewish community from a group within; anti-rabbinic Jews who rejected the very notion on "Oral Torah", and therefore rejected both the Talmud and whatever claims to religious authority the Rabbis had asserted since the beginning of the Common Era; Rabbi Saadiah ben Joseph argued in defense of Rabbis that the interpretation of Scripture rested not only on a profound knowledge of the language of Scripture but also on "reliable tradition" Jews accorded a degree of tolerance within Muslim societies that they rarely encountered in Christian lands; Rabbi Saadiah ben Joseph realized need to present Judaism to an educated Jewish audience already familiar with the teachings of both Islam and Greek philosophy, and to do so in a way that did not contradict Jewish Scriptures (and so Saadiah published The Book of Beliefs and Opinions in 933 AD, which is the earliest example of scholasticism in Jewish thought- that is, a systematic attempt to reconcile faith and reason by relating mainstream religious beliefs to contemporary philosophical arguments) Moses ben Maimon (1135-1204); listed every single one of the 613 biblical commandments; clearly describes what he believed to be the thirteen essential articles of Jewish belief, thereby creating a dogmatic framework for any subsequent discussion of Judaism as a faith-system; distrusted any comparison between humanity and the eternal creator (emphasizes God's "otherness"); created a demythologized version of messianic Judaism collectively, the many diverse traditions that make up the the world of Jewish mysticism; "received tradition"; acknowledges hidden "essence" of YHWH, which cannot be fully grasped and certainly never directly perceived or represented the bible of Kabbalah; entire structure of divine qualities and emanations is laid out in the form of a biblical madras, that is, an extended interpretation of select passages form the Book of Genesis; holds a theory of immanence- or of divine-human interaction 1534-1572); known as the Ari (or "holy lion"); taught that the individual believer could liberate the divine "spark" within by careful observance of the divine commandments and acts of self-discipline and meditation; envisioned each soul undergoing a series of reincarnations, as the soul constantly strives to return to its Source taught the necessarily of releasing the spark of holiness within and thereby hastening the approach of the Messiah; referred to as the "Master of the Good Name"; fame derived from faith healings and exorcisms "pious ones"; formed by Baal Shem Tov and his followers; believed that God could be found everywhere, and everyone was at least potentially capable of spiritual communion with the Creator; to worship God properly, one need not be a master scholar, nor engage in acts of self-mortification, nor even engage in constant prayer; the most ordinary of everyday acts, he insisted, if performed with an awareness of God's nearness and in a spirit of joy and love, become acts of spiritual devotion and serve to make everyday life sacred; urged disciples to choose a spirit guide, or tsaddik ("righteous one"), to provide a living example for themselves and the rest of the community of what it is like to live a life of intense religious commitment and intimacy with God- result is that virtually all Hasidic communities are centered around the personality and religious leadership of one man- often referred to in Yiddish as the Rebbe- whose authority in all things is largely unchallenged many Jews lived in the Jewish Quarter of many cities (i.e., the Ghettos)- a symbol of political and cultural containment principal representative for his time of the Age of Enlightenment (referred to in Hebrew as the Haskalah); eloquently defended religious freedom, coupled with a defense of the Jewish faith, in a volume entitled Jerusalem (1783), in which he argued that all religious share certain common beliefs (such as the existence of a benevolent Creator-God); Mendelssohn proposed that Judaism was unique because it emphasized doing God's will rather than professing correct ideas about God or the afterlife sought to accomplish two goals: first, the modernization of Jewish thought and ritual practice, and, second, the acculturation of Jews to the secular culture of 19th century Europe and America; split into Reform Judaism and Conservative Judaism more radical type of reformist thinking flourished in the US after the Civil War; rejected the biblical idea of a direct, finite, and exclusive revelation from God- opted instead for the concept of an evolving (and therefore universal) revelation; got rid of many "antiquated" Jewish practices; declared Jews no longer were determined to return to Palestine offered a more moderate departure from traditional (or what is now called "Orthodox") beliefs and practices; acknowledged the evolutionary character of Judaism, but were not willing to abandon either principles of faith or religious behaviors that had defined Judaism for many centuries; high level of adaptation to secular culture combined with a selective realization of halacha (with respect, for example, to travel on the Sabbath) and institutional innovations frowned upon by the Orthodox community (like the ordinations of women as rabbis); supported Zionism- the formation of a Jewish nation-state in what is now Israel and for the emigration of American Jews to this state offshoot of Conservative Judaism; emerged in America and centered on teachings of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan; occupies a philosophical position somewhere between Conservatism and Reform; held firm to the concept of a Jewish nationhood and tended to place greater emphasis upon the historical continuity of religious customs than did Reform Judaism; had a more naturalistic concept of God, as the expression of whatever moral and spiritual potential human beings possess in their search for holiness and righteousness (abandonment of concept of divine transcendence) the Holocaust; means "whirlwind", referencing the insane rage of anti-Semitic hatred that was loosed on Europe's Jews during WWII; word preferred over Holocaust because it avoids the connotation of a divinely commanded sacrifice, which is exactly what the biblical term "holocaust" brings to mind; Nazis destroyed 1/3 of world's Jewish population; not viewed by theologians as divine punishment (break with traditional Jewish thought) the Shoah can be seen as a kind of churban, through which the Jews perform an act of vicarious atonement for the sins of the world insists that the Shoah challenges, at the most fundamental level, Judaism's belief in a just and benevolent Creator who values every single human life only defensible Jewish theology after the Shoah is one that posits God's need for, and yearning after, humankind; God's longing for us does not annul the reality of evil but does establish what Heschel calls an "analogy of being", that is, a hint of divine likeness in every soul, and thereby the capacity to mend a broken world establishment of state of Israel in 1948 is second pivotal event of modern Jewish history; Moses Hess argued that anti-Semitism was an ineradicable presence in Western society, and therefore Jews could never hope to assimilate successfully into a society in which they were bound to be hated (the only solution is to reestablish a Jewish state in Palestine); Theodor Herzl said largely the same thing in this book The Jewish State (1898); in 1917, British Zionists found a sympathetic advocate in the foreign minister of Great Britain, Lord Arthur Balfour rests on a few basic assumptions: 1)anti-Semitism may abate from time to time, but it will never disappear, and as long as Jews are hated anywhere in the world, their lives are in peril, 2)only guarantee of physical survival in a hostile world is national sovereignty- because only a nation-state can effectively defend its citizens; 3)the guest-host relationship Jews have lived under, whether in Christian or Muslim lands, has always been inherently unstable and on occasion threatening to Jewish survival traditionally, the status of women in Judaism has been that of a respected but subordinate member of the religious community, and for many centuries Jewish women lived in a male-dominant culture (assumption was that a woman's chief responsibility was raising of children and maintenance of home); privilege of advanced religious study was reserved exclusively for men; first woman Rabbi in American Reform movement= Sally Priesand; reform liturgists began to experiment with gender-neutral words for God, like "Eternal One" the rejection of Judaism's central God-concept by secular jews who found any form of theism philosophically untenable; logical response to the insane violence of the Shoah; one can remain a Jew, sociologically and culturally, while at the same time rejecting any belief in a supernatural creator; believe that Jews are a people first, and only secondarily a religious community Jewish religion is a type of ethical monetheism, as it assumes the existence of a Creator-God whose benevolence and goodness are reflected in His love of humanity and who has imparted to the Jews ethical principles by which they (and the rest of the human race) are expected to live; God is understood to be omniscient and omnipotent; Judaism's idea of transcendence presupposes that a fundamental difference in reality exists between God and the world He has brought into existence; belief that Creator-God was also the shaping force or will behind our universe and our human world question of how God can be benevolent and omniscient and still let events like the Shoah occur; original answer to question= the people of Israel have sinned against God by violating His Covenant, and therefore God has no alternative but to punish those who have rejected Him and His laws- this viewpoint has become increasingly less popular, however; another idea is that of a "divine eclipse": the belief that God periodically conceals Himself from human understanding, thereby creating a seeming void in which evil, for a time, may prevail (although God does still remain present in human hearts during His "absence") Judaism claims to be a "revealed" religion and believes in divine-human communication (as proved by the texts that exist); the scrolls of the Torah are the parchment scrolls of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)- these scrolls contain virtually all scared legislation within the Hebrew Bible; often referred to as "The Law"; some belief in the Oral Torah, or the Talmud "commandments"; 613 commandments in total (although many of those are no longer applicable w/o a Temple in Jerusalem); at heart of sacred law are the Ten Commandments (bedrock of Jewish faith and social and philosophical ideals); informally means "good deeds"- greatest mitzvah is the study of the Torah; there are practical limits to carrying out commandments, acknowledged in rabbinic law under the principle of pikuach nefesh, or "the preservation of life": whenever carrying out a mitzvah entails imminent risk to one's life or health, one is released from that obligation until the threat to life has passed (except, with regards to worshipping another God) Covenant; on God's side, an unconditional promise is given to the patriarch Abraham that his descendants would be numerous and that they would inhabit the land God had given Abraham as a legacy; the people of Israel, meanwhile, are expected to live up to all of God's demands and to obey His mitzvot; the penalty for disobeying God is a temporary dissolution of the covenant connection, couple with such punishments as famine, defeat in war, etc.- provide a theological rationale for the worldwide dispersion of Jews and their subsequent statelessness belief that the Jewish people have been "chosen" by God to receive His laws and to live in His presence (no concept in Judaism has evoked more hostility and misunderstanding); covenant demands that Israel actively serve God's purpose in history: first by becoming a "holy nation", completely obedient to His will, and second by representing God to the peoples of the world who have no knowledge of His existence; Jews have come to see their "chosenness" as simply an obligation to serve both God and humanity, rather than as an assertion of moral or religious superiority those who enter Judaism by choice are required by tradition to prove their sincerity and to undertake a term of study to prepare for full participation in Jewish religious life; the final stage of conversion customarily entails circumcision for men who are not already circumcised, and for both men and women immersion in ritual pool (known as a mikveh in Hebrew); Jewish religious identity traditionally traced through mother's line for many years, connoted both a political and a spiritual community, a double frame of reference that is still preserved within the synagogue liturgy; God's covenant, it is believed, was established with the b'nei yisrael- literally, the "children of Israel"; many Jews today are comfortable with their double identity as members of both a religious and ethnic community (although many also have become citizens of another nation and sought to define Judaism as solely a religion) at its root, mashiach ("anointed one") means any person who was ceremonially anointed with oil in preparation for becoming a priest or king; later extended to an unnamed future "prince" who would redeem his people from subjugation to a foreign nation; some writers imbued Messiah with more supernatural elements, and saw him as an instrument of divine power through whom God would accomplish both the final judgment and the ultimate renewal of life on earth; there have been many "false" Messiahs attempting to defraud Jews (but still that belief in a Messiah has persisted into the modern era, even among traditionalist communities) Olam Ha-Bah ("the world to come"); beliefs in afterlife are largely post biblical in origin; for most biblical writer, death of the body entailed the passage of the soul into an underworld (Sheol=pit), where it would remain forever; many reform-minded Jews concluded that any belief in an existence beyond this world was either an archaic folk-belief or an insupportable, unscientific hypothesis (although many Orthodox Jews maintain a belief in an afterlife) visionary passages can be found throughout the Book of Ezekiel and in other prophetic texts- testify to a tradition of ecstatic mediation in biblical Judaism in which a prophetic writer experiences the presence of God in a manner that is at once direct and mysterious; what distinguished the Kabbalah school of mystical writers from other visionary writers was a fascination with the mysterious prices of world-creation and a deep curiosity over the role of the Creator in this process; key to Kabbalah is the image of the Sephirot, which are ten in number and can be visualized as connected "spheres" of divine power- as such, they come to represent at least one of two things: the primary attributes of God and the dynamic emanations of His creative force; every blessing uttered by a Jew can be invested with an almost magical power to "heal" the world (Hebrew, tikkun olam) and is directly related to soul's longing to reunite with its Creator; the end-goal of this longing, kabbalists believe, is devekut, or a clinging to God that represents the highest state in mystical Judaism of the covenant relationship before creation, God withdrew into Himself, thereby creating an empty space in which a material universe could take shape; then the Creator allowed rays of light to penetrate the void, resulting in a concentration of this creative force into ten spheres (the Sephrot); however, the ten "vessels" God had prepared to hold this Sephirotic light mysteriously shattered, leaving the material universe in disarray (true origin or evil an dissuader in the world)- resulted in scattering of divine "sparks" throughout the cosmos, and particularly within the human soul; with the coming of the Messiah, all these "sparks" would be reunited with God; ideas and images derived from Kabbalah continue to exert some influence on contemporary Jewish thought Jewish New Year, celebrated for two days at the beginning of the month of Tishri (Sept-Oct); year begins with a period of self-reflection, signaled by the blowing of a ram's horn (shofar) during the synagogue service- which is designed to awaken the conscience of the worshiper to the need for repentance and reconciliation with God; it is customary to eat a dish of apples and honey as an expression of hope that they coming year will be one of sweet fruitfulness and fulfillment, as well as for Jews to greet each other with the words l'shanah tovah tikatevu- "may you be inscribed for a good year" at end of service (based on ancient idea that God writes names between the New Year and Yom Kippur of those who will live or die in the Book of Life, the Book of Death, and the Book of Intermediate Souls Day of Atonement; most solemn day in Judaism's sacred calendar; there is a dusk-to-dusk fast and penitential prayers; repentance must be accompanied by some restorative action; in Orthodox communities, it is customary for married couples to abstain from intimacy, for men to wear white garments (symbolic of purification) to synagogue, and to neither shave nor bathe (as one were in mourning); one cannot work on Yom Kippur either five days after the conclusion of Yom Kippur, Jews undertake a week-long full harvest celebration, known as Sukkot (Hebrew, "booths"); displays symbols of the seasons, like palm frond (lulav), citron (etrog), and leaves of the willow tree (aravah) and the myrtle (hadassah); it is customary to adorn the sukkah- or temporary hut, from which Sukkot derives its name0 with each of these plants- Jews are encouraged to eat and sleep in the sukkah, so as to reenact, symbolically, the biblical Exodus; one usually attend synagogue during the first two days and the last two days of the festival, offering Thanksgiving prayers- each worshipper is required to carry a lulav and an etrog to morning services, and in the course of the ceremony both the lulav and etrog are waved in six directions, signifying God's presence throughout the universe; the biblical book of Ecclesiastes is read on the Sabbath of Sukkot; at the conclusion of the Sukkot, an eighth day of prayer and celebration, known as Shemini Atzeret ("the Eighth Day of Assembly") is the culminating moment in the process of expressing one's gratitude to God for the bounty of the world; traditionally, Jews living outside Israel divide up the Shemini Atzeret into two days, with the second day referred to as Simchat Torah ("Joy of the Torah"), the day on which the annual reading of the first five books of the Hebrew reading comes to an end "Passover:; week-long festival to recount the Exodus sorry and to celebrate this event through a ceremonial mean known as a Seder- a practice that may well have begun in biblical times; March-April celebration; the first two days and the last two days are subject to the same restrictions that govern any chag- no work and limited travel; no foods containing yeast may be consumed during this period; observance begins in the evening in the home, where is the Seder is celebrated, followed the next morning by a festival service in the synagogue; children play a very prominent role in this rite by being given questions to anew, songs to sing, etc.; combined celebration of nature's bounty, historical members, and redemptive visions of the future, all of which turn upon the ancient miracles of god's intervention on behalf of an enslaved Israel the Seder consists of two rituals in one: 1)a festive meal, featuring biblical and seasonal foods that reflect the Exodus story, and 2)a liturgy, found in an ancient text called the Haggadah (Hebrew, "telling"), which contains both the story of Israel's escape from Egypt and a collection of hymns and songs and rabbinic commentaries in praise of God, who made that deliverance possible; during the Seder meal, other foods are displayed or consumed (bitter herbs- for bitterness of slavery, mixture of wine, chopped nuts, and apples- symbolically representing mortar used by Israelite slaves to build cities and pyramids, a roasted lamb shank bone- sacrifice of lambs by Israelites before departure from Egypt, four small symbolic cups of wine- reminder of the many blessings god bestowed upon ancient Israel and continues to bestow upon the Jewish people (a fifth cup is set aside for prophet Elijah, whose symbolic presence at the Seder represents the hope that a Messiah will some day appear and bring peace and justice into the world) a type of unleavened flatbread that, according to biblical writers, the escaping Israelites baked in haste while fleeing Egypt "weeks"; seven weeks after Pesach; became associated with giving of the Torah on Mt.