Huston Smith wrote: "What lifted the Jews from obscurity to permanent religious greatness was their passion for meaning." In the follow essay, please write a brief paragraph each on 4 of the following themes: (CHOOSE FOUR)
Meaning in God
In explaining the meaning in God, Smith endeavors to bring to light the fact that the Jews were in serious resistance of the prosaic. They did this through personification of the “other”. Further, smith explains that the ultimate reality, which was at the core of Judaism, is more of a person than an item. Additionally, Judaism lay emphasis on unity and opposed chaos. In so doing, the people upheld oneness rooted in God. Because of this reason, monotheism is considered one among the most important contributions of Judaism. The one God is considered the sole creator because man is not self-created. In upholding monotheism, smith explains that according to Judaism, worshipping more than one god is equal to divided loyalties. The meaning in God, which is rooted in Psalm 19, is also based on the fact that righteousness defines the character of God.
Meaning in Human Existence
In explaining the meaning in Human Existence, Smith prominently draws arguments from Psalm 103:14, which explain the form of human beings at creation – dust. Smith observes that, according to Judaism man was created in the likeness of the Supreme Being. Further, the Judaists are accurately aware that human beings have a number of limitations. Such limitations, according to Smith, are founded in the sinfulness of the human race. The meaning in human existence is an affirmation of responsibility and freedom.
Meaning in History
The meaning in history places the relationship between God and the Jews into context – the arena of human existence. According to Smith, the meaning in history unveils the story of social action and resolute fields of opposition. The meaning in history, as explained by Smith, is based on the record of life defining turning points in Jewish history. This prominently focuses on the special calling of the descendants of Abraham as the people chosen by God.
Meaning in Morality
Smith argues that the meaning in morality as upheld by the Judaists is based on the divinity of God. The meaning in morality is as well rooted in the belief that God wants human kind to be as good as God Himself. This, explains Smith, is the reason why God gave man the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are a way to through which the human race can be purified. Clearly, observing the commandments makes one pure at heart. This is as well in line with the actuality that the prophets from the Hebrew community demanded for social justices.
Please summarize Huston Smith's discussion of "Revelation" in the assigned chapter. What is revelation and what kind of God was revealed?
Smith says that revelation is the discovery of God. This, he says, is the ultimate disclosure of the nature of the almighty God as well as the long term will for man. By will, Smith refers to the plans that God has in place for humankind. The God, whose revelation Smith refers to in the chapter is the righteous God, who is behind human existence. Smith as well argues that in Judaism belief, God prominently reveals himself and his will through actions such as the historic exodus. The exodus, from Egypt to the Promised Land made people acknowledge the presence and mighty nature of God. The kind of God being revealed in the chapter is the God of love and goodness. The reason why he is manifested as a God of goodness is because he is concerned with the conduct and existence of human beings. The God revealed is as well recognized as a good one because he makes an eternal contract with the people of Israel – the Ten Commandments.
What does it mean to say that the Jews are God's "Chosen People" according to Smith? What tensions does this identification raise, according to Smith?
According to smith, to say that Jews are God’s chosen people means a lot. First, it means that the Jews are elected for special and superior favors. In point of fact, the Jewish people are preferentially referred to in the Bible. Secondly, being God’s chosen people means that they are servants of God. While combining the first and second meanings seems incompatible, the end result is that the people of Israel ought to suffer for the special privileges. According to Smith, the primary reason why the people of Jewish descent are referred to as chosen is because Israel was the only nation that accepted the torah which had been given to all nations. The acceptance opened the probability for salvation. The identification also means that the people of Israel were loved more than other people across the world. The tensions associated with this identification are summarized as the scandal of particularity. This is explained by the assumption that the people of Israel were not chosen on a clear merit but were meant to go through suffering and discrimination so as to access the full benefits of being chosen. Tensions arise because the people of Israel are left with no option but to pay for the price of being Chosen.
Smith argues that there have been "two agonizing problems for the Jews" in the Twentieth century. Please state what they are. What makes these particular problems especially difficult for Judaism?
The problems faced by the Jews according to Smith, can be traced back to the biblical period. Even so, the latest (20th century challenges revolve around separation. According to Smith, the 20th century has seen the Israelites face racism and snobbery. Such racism is rooted in the reality that God recognized the Israelites as a race. The race is among the minorities of the contemporary world. Racial discrimination makes it particularly difficult for the Judaists to spread their religion. Another challenge is the dilution brought about by coexistence and cultural diversity. Ethnic combinations have seen the Jewish people encounter serious problems in establishing cultural identity in terms of culture and faith. Similarly, the 20th century saw the Jews face insecurity such as the holocaust and psychological harassments associated with the fact that they are a minority.