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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Jewish Thought (6/12)
Section - Question 12.37: What is the Jewish view of Salvation, i.e., how a person from a given religion is ''saved''?

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                                  Answer:
   
   This is an important question. It is important to look at the
   questions that religions ask, as well as the ones they don't ask. In
   this case, one must start with the awareness that salvation is not a
   Jewish concept, as it implies a focus on the afterlife, which is not
   significant focus of Judaism. In particular, the Christian view of the
   question just doesn't work, for it implies a notion of "hell" for
   those that aren't saved. Jews believe that people are supposed to do
   the best they can at being good. We do this because it is the right
   thing to do--any personal gain is a side-effect. In fact, focussing on
   issues of reward and punishment to some extent mitigates the good one
   is doing by tainting it with selfish motives.
   
   Note also that Jews do not assume that God assesses people on some
   absolute scale. Jews believe that God expects you to do the best you
   have with what you have-- including upbringing, innate abilities, and
   the situations you find yourself in--and you have the power to perfect
   yourself. Even on this relative scale, though, no one wastes their
   entire potential, or fully utilizes every opportunity. So, to whatever
   extent one does what they can, they enjoy its effects in the World to
   Come.
   
   But again, Judaism is about being good to be good and to have a
   healthy relationship with God, man, and oneself--not to be saved. The
   role of Jewish law is to provide tools to learn how to do that, and
   values that one ought acquire. Judaism teaches that God gave us these
   laws because there are subtleties to the ideal that can not be
   conveyed in broader strokes. We therefore learn from the subtleties of
   the ritual, and the nuances of the inter-personal laws. Often very
   fundamental ideas about Jewish values can emerge from same arcane bit
   that one would think would never have found application in practice.
   
   Last, there are two sorts of law: there is the covenant at Sinai,
   which God made with the Jews (and the other Israelites, the ancestors
   of the Northern Kingdom) to define the role of Jews in His plan. All
   Judaism asks of Jews is to follow the teachings of God as given in
   that covenant (as understood by their particular movement)--for the
   traditional Jew, this means to follow the laws given in the written
   and oral Torah. The other law is the covenant God made with Noah and
   his descendents. We believe that this is simpler law that non-Jews are
   expected to follow as well.

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Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Jewish Thought (6/12)
Previous Document: Question 12.36: In Judaism, what are some of the laws related to gleaning and tithing for the poor?
Next Document: Question 12.38: Can a Jew donate blood?

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