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Judaism Judaism & Sikhi

Feb 23, 2012
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This is a very enlightening read from the "Sikh review", a pdf article on some similarities between Judaism and Sikhism, which I think could bode well as a discussion point for interfaith dialogue:

http://www.sikhreview.org/pdf/march1996/pdf-files/inter.pdf

The article also discusses some differences in belief which makes it a very fair, respectful yet scholarly read - ie there is no inconsiderate attempt at immoderate syncretism or blending of religions which devalues the distinct beauty and independent perspectives on truth that are reflected in the world religions, whilst not denying that man is one in his search for meaning and that the spiritual reality towards which he strives is also one. In this respect I think that a "core" deposit of truths can be found nestled within the sacred teachings of every humane belief system which has ennobled humanity, yet we must also recognize the differences or else we might commit the error of blurring the rich and legitimate diversity of human approaches to worship.

A few excerpts which interest me:

"...There are many historical similarities between Sikhs and Jews, despite the fact that Judaism is one of the world‟s oldest religions, and Sikhism one of the youngest...

Jews do not believe in heaven or hell, nor do most accept theories of Karma, transmigration, or reincarnation. Most modern Jews, other than the ultra-orthodox and some orthodox, will not hazard a guess as to what might transpire after death. For these Jews, the reverberations of the good deeds they do and the genetic posterity of children is all the immortality they postulate...

The Sikh Nirgun/Sargun formulation has a parallel in the Kabbalistic doctrine which postulated a formless, Attributeless God ([FONT=Bookman Old Style,Bookman Old Style][FONT=Bookman Old Style,Bookman Old Style]Ein Sof [/FONT][/FONT]meaning Endless), in whom is the sum of all attributes. The knowable aspect of God was made apparent through the emanation of the [FONT=Bookman Old Style,Bookman Old Style][FONT=Bookman Old Style,Bookman Old Style]Sefirot [/FONT][/FONT]which, more or less, represent attributes of God - Justice, knowledge, Wisdom, Mercy, and so on....

For Jews, this world is very real, perhaps, the only reality they will experience. They have no concept of Maya, nor of this world being of illusory importance in the cosmic scheme...


From the foregoing, a preliminary conclusion can be reached that Judaism and Sikhism, both strictly monotheistic religions, have developed traditions that are distinct and different from each other, but do have points of similarity. In the spirit of respect for all religions that is incumbent on us as Sikhs, it is important to have a direct, clear idea of their beliefs not mediated by another religious group..."
I very much admire the sentiment expressed in the last passage. Sister Ishna ji innocently and with pure intent referenced an Ismaili Muslim article which spoke of Judaism in (to my eyes) a wholly deprecatory and deamining fashion with no attempt at a fair representation of this faith's teachings. I am heartened that the Sikh authors of this article have engaged with Jewish beliefs in a real spirit of compassion.

Those who study Judaism with an open-mind, and in particular Jewish mysticism (known as Kabbalah and also Hasidic spirituality), will in my mind discover it as being one of the most fascinating religions on earth with much to teach all of us and contribute to civilisation.
 
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spnadmin

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Jun 17, 2004
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These are Lubavitcher in the video who are a sect of Judaism. The costume and fur hats are traditional and stretch back in time. The sect retains the garb, hairlocks, beards, cultural norms and traditions, as part of their religious identity. The video, which is a bit long, depicts a celebration of some kind. Lubavitcher Jews typically have celebrations like this, attended by hundreds if not thousands, for birthdays, weddings and funerals of individuals from prominent families. This just gives an example of how much enthusiasm there is and how it is expressed. The group is tight knit, lives in various cities, or near cities, across the globe in enclaves with other members of their group. Traditions or movements within the sect have historical loyalties to founding rabbis. Their language of choice is Yiddish, a dialect of German. They have their own synagogues. They are orthodox and do not intermingle with other Jewish groups in general, but attend their own schools (or religious private schools operated by members of the Jewish faith) and work in traditional businesses like diamond cutting.

p/s I think the video may be of the Chabad-Lubavitcher movement
 
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Brother Onam

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Jul 11, 2012
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I read a fascinating book called "Wheels of a Soul", by Rabbi Philip Berg, detailing a Jewish interpretation of transmigration. At the risk of being thought a heretic, I'm also not sure that Sikhi denies transmigration of the soul.
 

Brother Onam

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Jul 11, 2012
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I can't speak for this particular group, but one of the most admirable things about some of these Hasids is that they are anti-zionist and stand firmly against the horrors perpetrated by the state of Israel, believing true Hebrews should have no part in dispossessing and oppressing any peoples of that region called the 'holy land'.
Also, as mystics, they are tapping into the same Holy Spirit that Sikhs and other mystics try to ever draw closer to.
 

Harry Haller

Panga Master
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Jan 31, 2011
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At the risk of being thought a heretic, I'm also not sure that Sikhi denies transmigration of the soul.
You have it the wrong way round brother, it is the heretics that are sure.........
Transmigration of the soul is quite mainstream Sikhi these days,
 
Nov 23, 2010
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Not to be trollish but if you look hard enough you can find similarities between apples and oranges.
Brother Onam ji, just so you know, for main stream Jews, Rav Berg is considered a heretic.
I not sure where you got the idea that hasidic jews are anti zionist. They compose one third of the illegal settlers in the occupied territories.
 

spnadmin

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It's NOT a lubavitch wedding --
Ha
1) The chassidim are NOT lubavitch -- I'd guess Belz right off;
2) the first video is a dedication of a Torah scroll
3) the second video IS a wedding
The thread starts with a video of members of the Lubavitch tradition. The next comment refers to "Hassids." It is something that drives me crazy about Internet discussions.

Yes, I myself am aware that Lubavitch as different from Hassidim. Hassidim is a religious identity that is much broader than Lubavitch and the two should not be confused.


On the other hand, Chabad - Lubavitch is commonly used together. I did not make this up.

Take a look at the end of the wedding video and tell me what you see, re: the second point.
 

spnadmin

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I not sure where you got the idea that hasidic jews are anti zionist. They compose one third of the illegal settlers in the occupied territories.
linzer ji

That also had me wondering and I read the comments over many times. I think the facts prove you right.

On your statement .. "if you look hard enough you can find similarities between apples and oranges." In my opinion the tendency to "find similarities between apples and oranges" is a common failing of interfaith discussions. One notes all the common features and draws wrong conclusions. It leads to something called an "affirmation error."

Matches on the "positives" or "affirmations" does not lead to understanding, unless we take a look at the "negatives" or "contradictions."

That is why I posted the second video. In anand karaj the Sikh wedding ceremony bride and groom are also connected by a scarf. The symbolism posed by the scarf is different. i was hoping to get a discussion started on the differences. Looking at differences and why they are there is a great way to understand what each religion is teaching about marriage and about other things too.
 
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spnadmin

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The dance with the scarf is a "mitzva dance" -- where important members of the community dance with the bride.

The reason for the scarf is that, once married, only the husband is supposed to have physical contact with the bride.

akiva ji

Does the bridegroom dance with the bride during the "mitzva dance?" And thanks for giving us an explanation.

Does the mitzva dance happen before or after the couple are officially married?

Could you also clarify whether any women of the congregation are present during this part of the wedding ceremony? It seems to be only men.

Thanks because correct information is important.
 

akiva

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Apr 20, 2011
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spnadmin Ji

The following applies to orthodox, in general, and chassidic specifically:

There is a specific commandment to "rejoice with the bride and groom" -- hence the dancing.

The bridegroom dances with the bride -- usually right before the "mitzva dance"

The mitzvah dance is usually at the end of the celebration after the wedding and the wedding meal

Weddings are segregated -- The women will be in a separate hall, dancing along with the bride for much of the evening. Depending on the hall there is usually a way for women to watch the men (but not vice versa)
 

Brother Onam

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Jul 11, 2012
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Gurfateh,
Sorry if I spoke wrongly. I once came past the Convention Center here in Washington DC when the Israeli prime minister was the keynote speaker. Outside I saw a cluster of very orthodox-looking Hassids protesting. When I asked them about their position, they said they were opposed to the illegal occupation of Palestine. They said, as holy people they were bound to repudiate the Israeli occupation and human rights abuses by the state of Israel. They said their understanding of the laws was that Hebrews were meant to be a scattered and stateless people until the time that Yahwah place them in the heavenly kingdom. If these were not representative of other Hassids, I'm sorry to spread confusion.
 

spnadmin

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Thanks for your replies akiva ji

I have had in my life professional connections with a Lubavitcher community in northern New Jersey and a Hassidic community in Philadelphia. I know a tad about these branches of orthodox Judaism. However the rich details of personal and religious life come to me only a little at a time. The details fascinate me and I always want to know more.
 

akiva

SPNer
Apr 20, 2011
126
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Jerusalem
The thread starts with a video of members of the Lubavitch tradition. The next comment refers to "Hassids." It is something that drives me crazy about Internet discussions.
Which thread? If THIS thread -- there are two videos -- the first (15 min long) consists of two things -- a Torah Scroll dedication and a celebration during the feast of tabernacles. The second video is a wedding

Both are almost certainly Belz chassidim -- I recognize several of the people.

Yes, I myself am aware that Lubavitch as different from Hassidim. Hassidim is a religious identity that is much broader than Lubavitch and the two should not be confused.
On the other hand, Chabad - Lubavitch is commonly used together. I did not make this up.
Correct. Lubavitch is the town where it the movement started - chabad is the name of the movement's philosophy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chabad

Take a look at the end of the wedding video and tell me what you see, re: the second point.
the 3:35 min video (Yahudi Pernikahan - YouTube)? I see no mention of lubavitch -- and the dress is NOT lubavitch in style)
 

spnadmin

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I see no mention of lubavitch -- and the dress is NOT lubavitch in style)
Can you tell from the YouTube commentary if this is a wedding in the Brooklyn Heights section of New York City? That would help clear things up. I think this has been cleared up in my later post.

If yes, then this is from the Lubavitch community. They are not Lubavitch but Satmar Hassidim.

A big source of confusion comes from some disagreement whether Lubavitch is Hassidic or not. Some authors consider the Chabad-Lubavitch movement as part of Haredi-Hassidim. Others do not and view it as a completely independent movement within Orthodox Judaism. The crux of the controversy to my naive mind stems from how far one is willing to yield on matters of theology before considering what is part of Hassidim and what is not. Or, who declares oneself to be part of or separate from the Hassidic movement.


Similar confusion extends to manner of dress. Specifically when using the hats the men wear to distinguish traditions: I have seen sources that say Lubavitcher men wear only fedoras; others they wear the bearskin hats. In my personal experience, the fedora hat is more usual. However, the traditional dress can also be observed.

Considering the broader issues of Hassidim. Now not all Hassidim wear traditional dress, at least here in the US, maybe in Europe or Israel they do. Therefore what Hassidim adopt cannot be used as a yardstick because there are too many varieties for that to work.

What is your thinking on these issues.
 
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spnadmin

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Can you tell from the YouTube commentary if this is a wedding in the Brooklyn Heights section of New York City? That would help clear things up.

If yes, then this is from the Lubavitch community.
akiva ji

It took some searching but I was able to clear this up. The wedding video is from the wedding of a daughter of Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum - head of one of the 2 rival factions within the Satmar dynasty of Hassidic Judaism. It took place in the Williamsburg area of Brookllyn, New York City. Therefore these are not Lubavitcher, but a Hassidic community.

There as been a record of dissension between the two factions.

The wedding of the youngest daughter of Zalman's brother, and head of the other faction within the Satmar dynasty, took place in Jerusalem.

The issues of dress: The garb worn appears to be consistent with the religious attire of members of the Satmar movement
 

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The complete Shabd as composed by Guru Arjun ji and recorded on page 392 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) is as follows:


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