The Routledge Dictionary of Judaism

The Routledge Dictionary of Judaism

The Routledge Dictionary of Judaism

The Routledge Dictionary of Judaism


Compiled by two internationally renowned experts, and with over 600 wide-ranging and informative entries, The Routledge Dictionary of Judaism provides the reader with an invaluable reference aid to all areas of the religion. Topics covered include:*The religion's forms and history*Its institutions, religious practices and life cycle rites*Key texts and people, symbols and holy days*An understanding of theological terms, doctrine and philosophy.


This dictionary addresses the religion that finds in the Torah-God's revelation to Moses at Mount Sinai-the full and complete account of what God wants from humanity. In the perspective of this religion, of Judaism, God's presence is located especially in Israel, the people who know God, and who, forming God's kingdom in the Torah, stand in a covenanted relationship with God. By "Israel" Judaism thus means the people that came into being at Sinai by accepting the Torah; they are the heirs and descendants of the patriarchs and matriarchs, of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah and Rachel. Israel, the people, and Judaism, their religion, as they are referred to here, thus represent supernatural categories, not to be confused with the ethnic group, the Jewish people and its culture, or with the nation-state, the State of Israel. In these pages, we speak of the "Israel" of the liturgy and holy books of the religion, Judaism.

When the sources of Judaism refer to the religion they represent, they use the word "Torah." By this they mean, first of all, the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). With this term, they also refer to the Prophets-Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve Minor Prophets-which, like the books of the Pentateuch, are read within the synagogue liturgy. A third part of the Torah is the Writings (Ketubim), consisting of Psalms and Proverbs, Job and Chronicles. In addition to these books, comprising the Torah in written form and corresponding to what Christians refer to as "the Old Testament," Judaism affirms as part of the Torah an oral tradition, transmitted not in writing but in memory, in oral form, from master to disciple, from Moses on down into the early centuries of the Common Era. The Oral Torah today is contained in the writings of Talmudic Judaism: the Mishnah, Tosefta, the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmud, and the Midrash compilations.

"Judaism" thus is the religion of Torah, both the Pentateuch revealed by God to Moses at Mount Sinai in written form and the teachings given by God to Moses that were not written down but were orally formulated and transmitted in a chain of tradition. This means that, from the viewpoint of Judaism, when the Torah, oral and written, is properly explained, people who practice Judaism-the people of Israel-know what God has to say to them and what He wants them to do. Judaism thus is the account of the way of life and world view of Israel, the holy people, as set forth by God to Moses at Mount Sinai in the Torah, the whole Torah, part oral and part written.

What we aim to define

In this dictionary, we define the vocabulary in Hebrew and in English that conveys the details of the Torah, the religion the world calls "Judaism." In presenting these

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