Orthodox vs Reform Judaism
The great religion of Judaism has had a tumultuous graph with many traditions emerging out of the same religion that tried to explain various Jewish traditions in a different manner and perspective. Reform and Orthodox are thus two of the very prominent branches of the same religion trying to explain the Jewish identity in different ways. While Orthodox Judaism is considered to be traditional and strict, Reform Judaism, which began as late as 19th century tried to reshape Judaism into a modern religion. There are many differences in orthodox and reform movements that will be described in this article.
Orthodox Jews believe that Bible is God’s own book, and that Torah is oral communication between God and Moses on Mount Sinai more than two thousand years ago. This communication formed the basis of the Orthodox Judaism, and most of the traditions and customs of Judaism are based upon Torahs. However, Reform Judaism did not believe in the divinity of Torahs, and believed them to be human creations. Reform Judaism also does not believe sacred texts to be sacrosanct and devalued them to a great extent.
Jews have believed in Orthodox Judaism for more than two thousand years. According to this branch, oral traditions were received by Moses from God at Mount Sinai in 1312 BC, and these traditions have been passed down the generations as being sacred and God’s own words.
The reform movement was initiated by Moses Mendelssohn in 18th century. Though, he never publicly rejected Torahs, or said anything about the divinity of oral traditions, 4 out of his 6 children converted to Christianity. One of his greatest students, David Friedlander, asked for permission to be allowed to be converted to Christianity, but set out on reforming Judaism when his application for conversion was rejected. Reform group declared that Torah must go, Talmud must go, and Bible, which is so beautiful and exalted human book, must go as a divine work. Thus, Reform Judaism is the first group in the 3100 years of Judaism to deny divine origin of Torahs. It also rejected Mesorah. The reform movement has been continuing since 18th century, and after Germany, it spread to America when in 1850, Isaac Myer Wise declared that he did not believe in Messiah or resurrection of body.
Difference Between Orthodox and Reform Judaism
• Orthodox Jew strictly believes in Torahs, Bible, and in the concepts of Messiah, a savior that is yet to come.
• Reform Judaism, though reveres the writing of sages down the ages, does not believe in divinity of Torahs and other texts and does not believe them to be infallible.
• Men and women are segregated in Reform Judaism when it come to worship, while they are not segregated in Orthodox Judaism
• This segregation is based on the belief that women are impure during menstruation.
• Orthodox Judaism believes women to be distraction for men from the focus of worship
• Orthodox Judaism does not allow women to become Rabbis, whereas Reform Judaism allows equal participation of women in religion.
• Orthodox Judaism is conservative and strict in its approach, while Reform Judaism is progressive and liberal in its approach.
• Though both remain within the same religion, Orthodox Judaism is getting too far away from Reform Judaism in many respects and this schism is likely to widen in the coming years.