Is Judaism a “Religion?”
Yes and No...

By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © July 31, 2017

Antisemitism (i.e. Jew hatred) comes in myriad often subtle forms. Sometimes antisemitism rejects our eternal Covenant and claims that another religion, another covenant, has replaced the Eternal Sinai Covenant (Tehillim/Psalms 105). This form of antisemitism usually includes threats of divine judgement and eternal torture by the "god of love" to all Jews who stubbornly maintain our Eternal Covenant as presented in the Bible. Sometimes antisemitism rejects the Jewish claims to our eternal Homeland, Eretz Y'israel, maintaining that others, but not us, have the right to dwell there securely. There is an endless variety of antisemitic attacks.

The Anti-Semite might say: "Judaism is not a religion!"

"Then what, pray tell, is it?"

Sometimes the response is that Judaism is only an outdated legal code, or a revoked and replaced covenant, or a divinely cursed race, or a myth.... but certainly not a religion! Not like Christianity, Islam, and the others!

To which I respond:

Judaism is the largest religion in the nation of Israel and the second largest religion in the United States of America. It is practiced in many other countries as well. Judaism certainly is a religion according to any and every definition of that term:

the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
"ideas about the relationship between science and religion"
synonyms: faith, belief, worship, creed;
a particular system of faith and worship.
plural noun: religions
"the world's great religions"
a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.
Judaism is certainly a religion, AND it is also more.

Judaism is also an extended family, dating back in time to Avraham and Sarah (circa 1743 BCE) and passing forward through Isaac and Jacob (renamed Israel) and their descendants, both born and formally adopted into the family. The "Tribe" is composed of people from all races and all parts of the earth. Unlike most other religions, Jews are mainly born into the Family by virtue of their mothers' Jewishness. Like most other religions, Judaism also accepts (but never seeks) converts. Converts must enter the Family and Covenant and Religion through formal legally defined adoption procedures (and not merely through religious affirmation as in Christianity, Islam, and many other religions). Conversion is difficult and time consuming, but possible.

Although the original Israelites were Hebrew Semites, since at least the Exodus from Egypt (circa 1280 BCE), Judaism has included people from most all races and ethnic groups. Since the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities Judaism has been the totality of the Jewish people, of Jewish religion, or Jewish culture, and so on. To reject this fact is to reject the command of G-d Himself:

"...there was none left but the tribe of Judah only" -- II Kings 17:18.
Judaism is also the Sinai Covenant. The Jewish Covenant established through Moshe Rabbeinu gave cohesiveness to the family-nation and provided us with a shared legal code and affirmed our divine mandate.

Judaism is also a political entity with a unique language, culture, traditions, holidays, backstory, creation myth, legal system, court system, eternal homeland, and a promised still future King (HaMashiach) who provides us and the world with Hope (HaTikvah). The Constitution of our nation (HaTorah) has inspired just governments, legal codes, and struggles for equal rights across the globe for over 6000 years.

Judaism is also an ethical code of behavior, based on our shared Law (HaTorah) and a shared sense of mercy and compassion granted to most of us by HaShem, as manifested throughout all eras of our long history. Our shared ethical and moral codes result in some of the most important medical, scientific, and legal breakthroughs in history.

Judaism is also tikun olam, the driving impulse to "repair all that is broken" in the world. For this reason Jews have always been among the most charitable and generous people the planet has ever known. Per capita Jews donate far more time, energy, and resources to helping others than the other nations, people groups, and religions.

Judaism is also the source or spark of original Christianity (which plagiarized our Tanach, as their so-called Old Testament, for its own purposes and worships a Jewish mamser and failed reformer), of Mandaeism (i.e. the small sect of followers of John the Baptizer), the Samaritan religion (survivor of the divorced ten northern tribes of Israel), it was usurped by several Gnostic sects, it provided the framework for Islam (which plagiarized and altered our Torah to support their anti-Torah claims that Ishmael rather than Isaac received the blessings of G-d), which impacted the religious philosophies of the Sant Mat and Sufi orders, and directly impacted countless other religions, sects, and philosophies.

Judaism is, moreover, the true perineal philosophy. Through its Torah Judaism is rightly referred to as "the Mind of G-d revealed." There is no religion like Judaism and no people like the Jews, the eternally Chosen People. Why is this so? Is it due to any merit on our part? No, it is solely due to the sovereign Will of G-d Almighty. All who reject these things rejects not the beliefs of a small people group, a mere .08% of the world's population, but G-d Himself.

So what is Judaism?

Jews are like everyone else! We are very diverse.

HOWEVER, understand that the reason there are still Jews on the earth today is because of our religion!

We continue to exist today as a unique people because enough of our predecessors believed HaShem when He established our Torah Religion and committed themselves to its observance and to passing it on from generation to generation, lador vador.

It is the religious emunah and devekut (i.e. our active faith and trust in the G-d of Israel, based on our strong collective desire to attach ourselves to our Him), to "the G-d of Israel," that continues to fuel our survival against all odds and everything the anti-Semites can hurl at us, as declared in our cardinal declaration:

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל חשם אֱלֹהֵינוּ חשם אֶחָד
Sh'ma Yisra'el HaShem Eloheinu HaShem Eḥad
"Hear Y'israel, HaShem is God, HaShem is ONE" (Deuteronomy 6:4)

As the religious emunah and devekut of the Jewish people continues to wane today, the world itself is hurling towards its resultant doom. Why? because the Jewish RELIGION is the "canary in the coal mine" as revealed at Isaiah 52-54. Our lack of emunah and devekut are bringing the world into an unnecessary time of unparalleled darkness and sorrow. Through our RELIGION we can stop this. But will we?

The ultimate blessing and promise of HaShem is that, unlike us, He keeps His Word and will eventually redeem the earth THROUGH our holy religion (Genesis 12:3), whether we merit the redemption or not. But woe to us and to the world if we fail to utilize the opportunities HaShem is placing before us today!

"IF My people, upon whom My name is called,
humble themselves and pray, and seek My presence and repent of their evil ways,
then I shall hear from heaven and I will forgive their sin and heal their land." in Exile

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