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March 11 , 2010

Mysteries of Judaism


Judaism today is radically different from the Judaism described and mandated in the Torah, writes Rabbi Dr. Israel Drazin, a noted authority on Jewish life, history and thought. Around the time of the destruction of the Temple, rabbinic reinterpretation changed both the observance and the religious significance attributed to the festivals. Thus, the biblical day of Passover on Nissan 14 was totally eliminated and the seven-day holiday called the Festival of Matzot, beginning Nissan 15, was renamed Passover. Likewise, the biblical holidays Yom Teruah and Yom Hakippurim were transformed into Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The practice of building huts during Sukkot is likely more tied to the lack of lodging space in Jerusalem during the harvest festival than any biblical origin, says the rabbi.

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This book challenges some of the basic assumptions about Judaism, showing how many of them are nowhere to be found in the Hebrew Bible, and some even have their origins in pagan cultures. It will surprise readers to hear, for example, about bizarre wedding practices, the Queen of Sheba myths, or the fact that classical religious sources are not always right. At its core, , the book stridently challenges discriminatory practices against women, such as the seclusion of women during religious services and the problem of the aguna, women held in failed marriages by husbands who will not provide a religious divorce.. With topics spanning the range of religious practice, Mysteries of Judaism will astonish and enlighten readers as it reveals the complex relationship between biblical and rabbinic Judaism.

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