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Who is an expert on Judaism? I know a lot of Jews in America, but none are overly religious or hard core practitioners. Many things I witnessed during my trip confused me. For instance, why must men and women be separated at the Western Wall? For some reason, this shocked me. Why do people sway back and forth while reading the Torah? It appears they are almost in a trance like state. One reader recently told me about "Jerusalem Syndrome." I thought it was a joke, but it's a real psychological phenomenon where religious people enter into an altered state or engage in odd irrational behavior after viewing the holy sites. For me, there was absolutely no psychological or emotional impact when visiting these sites as a non-believer, yet they are still interesting from a historical standpoint. Many people in my group became emotionally overwhelmed walking in the footsteps of Jesus, including two pastors who were my companions on the trip, though not rising to the level of hysteria.

Tell me other interesting facts or insights about Judaism. Of course, I can go on the Internet and read more about it, but it's more interesting to learn from people who practice the faith, or have a lot of knowledge and insight about it. 

Comments

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girlspell
Apr. 28th, 2014 04:13 pm (UTC)
Why do evangelical Christians shake and sway, scream in ecstasy? Why do people talk in tongues suddenly during a service? Why do people suddenly erupt in a dance frenzy? Endless religions do that. Your devotion takes you to another place. What is the big deal? It's not just Judaism. As Madonna once sang....Express Yourself.




peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 04:17 pm (UTC)
It's not a big deal, I just wanted to understand whether it had any significance because it's done in a subtle manner. Not like the evangelicals, who are exuberant as you correctly state. I'm not religious, but respect those who are of strong faith. This includes many of my friends.
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yarowind
Apr. 28th, 2014 04:28 pm (UTC)
>>why must men and women be separated at the Western Wall?

Not only at the Western Wall, and in synagogue to.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 04:52 pm (UTC)
In America, this is only the case in ultra-conservative synagogues. Otherwise, no separation of sexes.
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grimalkin2006
Apr. 28th, 2014 07:28 pm (UTC)
As far as I know, the separation of men and women at the Western Wall is a relatively recent thing. It seems that it did not exist before 1948 and the Jordanian capture of East Jerusalem. A part of the religious people get more fanatic with time. So, recently buses were introduced for observant people with seats separation, like in Iran. Some of these buses stop at the Wall (I don't know if you paid attention).
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC)
After reading more about it, I discovered there's a whole movement focused on women's rights at the Wall. Very interesting stuff.
k_netalie
Apr. 28th, 2014 08:09 pm (UTC)
were i more religious i would take judaism. when i had any questions i usually asked here - http://toldot.ru/en/programs/. the rabbins there usually explained in detail what i wanted to know.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 28th, 2014 11:45 pm (UTC)
Hi, nice to hear from you! Thanks for the link.
andrey_kaminsky
Apr. 29th, 2014 06:43 am (UTC)
Саша обьяснит тебе все тонкости при вашей следующей вс
Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, the author of very interesting and fun book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" has described his attempt to put a rabbi in a quandary with the help of religious questions and described own defeat. These people have reached the heights of religious excellence;)
peacetraveler22
Apr. 29th, 2014 01:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Саша обьяснит тебе все тонкости при вашей следующей
How can Sasha explain? He isn't religious.
qi_tronic
Apr. 29th, 2014 08:53 am (UTC)
Yes, chanting, swaying, repeating some prayer or mantra endlessly are all ways to reach deeper trance states.
In fact it's quite easy to recognize if you see it in different religions and practices over and over again.

But the only way to understand these states is to start doing it :)
You cannot grok it through reasoning because when you reason you are in Beta-state but you need to be in Alpha- and then deeper Theta- and Delta- states (but not sleeping at the same time!) :)

See here:
en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Electroencephalography#Normal_activity

You can also try some substances like mushrooms but it is not exactly the same, quite different in some aspects :)


About men and women separation.
Yes some religions oppress free sexuality.

At the layman (social) level they just want to control people, ensuring that people have strong families and many children, not free sex. This is why men should not be attracted to other women, just to his wife behind closed doors.
And it works :)

But there is a more esoteric meaning of it because controlling men's arousal and ejaculation can help practice if done right or can ruin practice.
This relates to saving energy and transforming energy.

In this aspect all religions and practices of the World can be divided into Right-hand and Left-hand practices (terms taken from Indian Tantra).

In right-hand practices (the absolute majority of religions) men (especially monks) should be righteous, calm and should save their sperm as much as possible.
Not have sex of have only regular family sex.

Left-hand practices teach more tricky things: be always aroused, attracted to women, even practice together with women, even naked, but not just spend your sperm but instead use arousal to transform sperm into energy and transform sexual trance into deeper calmness (Alpha-, Theta- , Delta-) and enlightement.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 29th, 2014 01:19 pm (UTC)
Your analysis is very intriguing. However, if men are aroused and consumed with ejaculation at the Western Wall then they are truly animals. I like to give them more credit than that. :)
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skvorets1989
Apr. 29th, 2014 12:01 pm (UTC)
For instance, why must men and women be separated at the Western Wall? For some reason, this shocked me.

The fact that women at the West Bank are not allowed to wear what they like doesn't shock you. But the fact that Jews pray separately men from woman does shock you. Strange to me. This just a rule. If you don't like it you don't have to come to the Western Wall and follow it. Israel is a free country and your liberty to swing your fist ends just where someones nose begins.

The very idea of a prayer was invented by Jewish People after the Second Temple was destroyed and they needed something to substitute sacrifices. Just as process of making a sacrifices at the Temple was very precise and detailed and outsiders have great difficulties with understanding it so is a process of jewish prayer.

Why do people sway back and forth while reading the Torah?

That is not a rule and actually nobody knows why everybody is doing it. It just a custom. There is a version that when books had a very big price 3 or 4 students would sit together over the same book and by swinging they could everyone of them could read it.

They are in no trance. Very intelligent and smart and sane people do it and they are just fine.

For me the most interesting about Judaism is a mystery of how the ancient jews really have come to monotheistic believe and why they were the only one who did it. Of course I know the religious answer but I'm also very interested in what science has to say. And that is not so unequivocal as marksists think.

I'm now watching very interesting lectures of the Yale University on this topic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V006bX4mlu4

Very interesting to watch and very sad at the same time because in our universities all lectures are usually just a dull POS.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 29th, 2014 01:26 pm (UTC)
There must be a reason for the rule requiring separation of sexes at the Wall, that was the essence of my question. Women I saw in the West Bank were not restricted in clothing. In fact, they are some of the most beautiful and fashionable women I've seen in all of my travels. Yes, they wear hijab but the scarves are usually colorful and decorative (with flowers or other designs). In other ways, their dress is Western. Full make-up, fancy jewelry, sunglasses, even high heels. Even the young mother that invited me into her home in a small Palestinian village was in full make-up with a colorful head scarf. So, I don't believe they are oppressed when it comes to dress and personal expression. I have absolutely no issues with hijab, only with the full burqa which completely conceals women's identity and makes them appear as a walking ghost, not a human being. And I've worn one of these, and know the feeling of being completely covered and anonymous.
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moebiuscat
Apr. 29th, 2014 04:00 pm (UTC)
It's not just the wall. In virtually all synagogues in Israel women are completely separated from men, often women are on the second floor balcony behind a thick curtain. Reformist and conservative synagogues (like many in US) almost did not exist when I was living there (14 years ago), not sure about now, but I don't think much has changed. The logic is simple: that men should not be distracted at a place of prayer, and all men are weak and cannot resist attraction to woman's body. So they should not see women at all. Women are very respected in Judaism but are assigned a very specific role and are generally prohibited from studying Tora and many other things reserved for men. Equal rights and religion do not mix well :-)

Come to think of it - it's not much different than Catholicism - but it mostly is reserved for priests there. Orthodox jews are somewhat similar to monks in some respects, but are allowed and encouraged to have a wife and children.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 29th, 2014 04:09 pm (UTC)
There's some type of feminist movement affiliated with the rights of female Orthodox Jews. I read a lot of articles about it. Where did you live in Israel? Interesting country for sure! I did not expect to find it so fascinating.
(no subject) - moebiuscat - Apr. 29th, 2014 04:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
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semicvetic
May. 3rd, 2014 11:36 am (UTC)
what really shocks me its muslim women completely covered in black veils. after that all other weird religious things are just some innocent funny pecularities...
peacetraveler22
May. 3rd, 2014 02:33 pm (UTC)
I agree with you about full veils and niqab! In Palestine, almost all women simply wear hijab, and usually very decorative and colorful scarves. Only the most oppressive States (like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan) require women to walk around completely anonymous, like ghosts on the street. Btw, as I wrote above, I've worn one of the full coverings and will write about the experience one day.
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fossa_s
May. 30th, 2015 09:12 am (UTC)
For most of the people praying is rather intimate experience and they don't want to share it with the opposite sex.
Jews don't sway during the praying to reach trance or ecstasy (I don't know why people make up that bullshit), it's just when they are praying they body is praying too. It's like when some people put out their tongue when they need to concentrate for doing something. It's about concentration, that's it.
peacetraveler22
May. 30th, 2015 03:06 pm (UTC)
Okay, thanks for the explanation!
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