Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Chart Showing How All Major Branches of Judaism Approach Torah and Halacha

Here's a little chart I cooked up after Shabbat:






Written Torah
Approach to Halacha
Reform Judaism
Non-inspired
Contemporary, Individual Autonomy
Class-Based Messianic Judaism (e.g. UMJC)
Inspired
Congregational Rabbi Wields Supreme Halachic Authority
One-Law Messianic Judaism (Independent)
Inspired
Contemporary, Communal Autonomy (Local Bet Din)
Conservative Judaism
Inspired
Centralized Halachic Institution (Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards)
Orthodox Judaism
Inspired
Codified Halacha (Using Talmud as Source of Law)


Explanation of Chart:

Reform Judaism:  They don’t believe that Scripture is inspired.  They believe that the individual can decide his own standards for practice.  There are limited communal guidelines.

Conservative Judaism:  They believe the Scriptures are inspired.  They believe that halacha should be flexible and decided by a centralized authority within the community of Conservative Jews.

Class-Based Messianic Judaism (e.g. UMJC):  They believe the Scriptures are inspired.  They have varying approaches to halacha but generally decide halacha at the local level with the Congregational Rabbi wielding supreme authority as the “Voice of G-d for the Community.”  

One-Law Messianic Judaism:  They believe that the Scriptures are inspired.  Non-affiliated Messianics generally decide halacha at the local level via councils of elders (i.e. Bet Din).   Matrix governance via elders is generally preferred to hierarchical governance via a congregational rabbi.  The local, council-of-elders approach is patterned after the approach shown in the early New Covenant communities.

Orthodox Judaism:  They believe the Scriptures are inspired.  They also believe that the Talmud is inspired.  The codifications of halacha (e.g. Mishneh Torah, Shulchan Aruch, etc) carry the force of law.  Areas which are not expounded by the Codes are matters which may be decided at the local level or via responsa. 

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