Orthodox judaism

21.05.2018 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

Judaism is the oldest monotheistic religion, and it is more than 3000 years old.

The word itself came from the name of the tribe of Judah. Being a collection of many traditions of the East, even in its emergence and formation, Judaism not only found its development in the spiritual sphere of people but was also able to reflect the social structure of society.

Orthodox Judaism is a common term for several movements of the religion. Their adherents, according to the historical position, maintain the Jewish religious worldview. The formation of this form of Judaism occurred in the period from the Middle Ages to the New Age.

The word “orthodox” in the religious sense implies a literal understanding and conformity to all the original canons of the doctrine.

Orthodox judaism

History of emergence

Orthodox Judaism, as a religious denomination, began its active development in the early 19th century. However it emerged earlier as an opposition to the manifestation in Germany of reformist Judaism, the main idea of which was to update religious rites to reflect modern society. In the second half of the 18th century, the term “orthodox” appeared and was used by eruldite Jews in Germany as a nickname. The word had a contemptuous meaning, denoting opponents of social change and changes in the religious life of Jews. At the same time, the opponents of reformism called themselves Jeremiah (God-fearing) and Haredim (trembling before God). It was only in the mid-19th century that the term “orthodox” became commonplace among traditionalists. With the consolidation of the orthodox movement of Judaism among the Jews of Eastern Europe, its supporters began to call themselves Adukim (rigorous adherents) or Datiim (religious); and followers of reformism were called the Hofishim (free-thinking).

Basic principles and traditions

Basics of the faith

  1. God in Judaism is seen as the absolute Perfection not only of Power but also of Goodness, Love, and Justice. The Creator plays the role of the Father of Mankind.
  2. Understanding the immortality and absolute value of man as a spiritual being is complemented by understanding the value of both individual human life and the life of the entire nation – the whole of humanity. Constant and comprehensive spiritual improvement is thus the purpose of life.
  3. The equality of men before God is based on the fact that every man is His creation. People have all the means in the form of Divine help and free will to follow the path of knowing the Almighty.
  4. The Jewish people are seen as being ‘chosen’. The contract between God and the Jewish people requires greater responsibility from them. Bringing the Divine truth to all mankind is the Divine Mission of Jews—thus they help people to be closer to God.
  5. Judaism involves the adoption of the necessary moral principles, and their minimum number should be accepted not only by Jews but also by any person. The religion itself has no principle of missionary work (intentional attraction of new believers) and it is the national religion of the Jewish people.
  6. The understanding of the superiority of the spirit over matter is immutable. But the Creator is the Lord of Spirit and Matter. Man, created in his likeness and image, has gained power over matter, but only to use this opportunity to fulfill his divine destiny.
  7. The coming of the Messiah (Mashiach)—the king, a direct descendant of King David. Being the ideal Sovereign of all times, He must be anointed by the prophet Elijah (Eliyahu) who was taken to heaven alive. According to the teachings, God’s Chosen One is the hope of the prophets for a better future.
  8. The doctrine of the resurrection from the dead suggests that Jews believe that in the future the dead will be resurrected and continue their earthly life.


Judaism is a world religion that does not have any specific source of power in the form of a particular person or institution. The combination of traditional laws and regulations of Judaism is called “Halakha” and it outlines the boundaries of Jewish social, family and religious life. This set of rules is based on the Torah and the Talmud.

The word “Halakha” has Aramaic roots. It translates as “the law” or “the adopted path.” Halakha is prioritized in the faith system of Orthodox Judaism in the form of The Oral Law and the structured code of The Shulchan Aruch.

The Oral Law (or The Oral Torah) is an inseparable addition to the sacred text of Judaism—The Torah (or The Five Books of Moses). To prevent misunderstanding, the Five Books of Moses has another name—The Written Torah. It is obligatory in orthodox Judaism for believers to comply with The Oral Law.

The Shulchan Aruch is a code of practical provisions of The Oral Law. All denominations of Judaism that recognize the Oral Law see the Code as the basic religious guide in terms of the use of Halakha. It contains customs, the commandments of the Torah and the order of their performance in everyday life.


Movements of orthodox judaism

Orthodox Judaism has several religious movements.

Hasidic Judaism is a formation of groups of followers of a spiritual mentor Rebbe. The names for such groups were given based on the location and residence of the rebbe.

Lithuanian Jews are representatives of the classical movement in the Ashkenazi branch of modern Judaism; they have their own Yiddish dialect. In this regard, they have a modified pronunciation of the Aramaic and Hebrew languages. They are represented in such countries as Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. Lithuanian Jews act as opponents of Hasidism.

Neturei Karta translates as “Guardians of the City.” This is an ultra-Orthodox movement, and its representatives (currently less than 5,000 people) consider any actions of society contrary to the law of the Torah to be forbidden for Jews from a religious point of view. Followers of this branch of Judaism not only oppose Zionism but also consider the emergence and existence of the State of Israel to be a flagrant violation of the law of the Torah.

Orthodox Modernism. Proponents of this movement support religious Zionism and adhere to the principles of Orthodox Judaism. According to modernists, respect and close peaceful integration with modern culture and society is the key to the development of Judaism and the unification of the Jewish people. More than half of the Jewish people of Orthodox Judaism belong to this modernist religious movement.

Religious Zionism is the denomination of Modern Orthodox Judaism. Zvi Kalischer was the founder of this movement. His original goal was to unite all Jews on Earth and revive Judaism and Jewish statehood. He believed that the Messaih would come only after the unification of the Jewish people.

Orthodox Judaism is conservative in adopting religious canons and rules of everyday life, but despite this, it still attracts believers from all over the world.