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1. Explain how the Jewish celebrations relate to their religion (give three examples)
All or almost all major Jewish celebrations have religious roots or are of religious nature. For instance, the spring holiday of Pesakh (Passover) celebrates exodus of Jews from the Egyptian slavery to the Promised Land of Israel. Rosh ha-Shana (New Year) celebrated in Fall is a remembrance of the creation of the world according to the Jewish religious calendar. Speaking about individual or family celebrations, bar-mitzvah for boys (celebrated at the age of 12) signifies adulthood. From that time on a young man is obliged to keep all the commandments and is called to read the Torah publicly in the synagogue for the first time.
2. What is the “Kabbalah” and how important is it to the medieval Jews?
Kabbalah is a system of Jewish medieval mysticism. It provided consolation for Jews in the period where they were oppressed and discriminated against. Kabbalah contained original ideas that later were used in philosophy and influenced both Jewish and non-Jewish culture.
3. Name two great Jewish thinker or philosopher, and briefly explain their ideas.
Philo of Alexandria (1 century BCE – 1 century CE). He lived in the diaspora, and he was well familiar both with Jewish religious tradition and ancient Greek philosophy. In his work he tried to fuse or mix ideas from Judaism and Greek philosophy.
Maimonides (died in 1204) was a philosopher, astronomer, and medical doctor. He lived in present-day Spain (at that time under Arabic domination) and in Egypt. His work was based upon ideas of Greek philosopher Aristotle. Maimonides taught that religion and science never contradict each other, but rather compliment each other....
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