Abrahamic Religion Comparing and Contrasting Term Paper

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Before the Torah is replaced near the end of the service, it is carried throughout the assembled congregation. Worshippers may reach out and touch the Torah with prayer books (hands are not supposed to be used), then kiss the object that touched the Torah, a gesture of affection, respect, and loyalty to God. This ritual is (arguably) symbolically equivalent to Catholic Communion, where believers symbolically ingest the blood and the body of Christ (a sip of wine and a Communion wafer) thereby taking the Lord into themselves. Both practices reaffirm personal relationships to God. Such contemporary (and past) ceremonies and liturgical practices may or may not actually aid worshippers in understanding God (or on the other hand, provide roadblocks for interpretation of the sacred). However, both are powerful signs of a personal relationship between congregants and God.

Many sections of the Old Testament reaffirm monotheism. In Exodus 31-33, Moses leaves Mount Sinai with tablets containing the Ten Commandments, to find that in his absence, Aaron has allowed creation of a molten (golden) calf, a pagan idol. In response, Moses smites those who do not worship only God (only the sons of Levi are left), then returns to Mount Sinai to ask God's forgiveness of his people's sins. On Mount Sinai, God forgives all but those who have gone against Him (Exodus 32). Here, the individual worshipper (Moses) asks for personal forgiveness from God, and a chance to atone personally, and on behalf of his people, for past sins, just as Jews still do today once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

The Christian New Testament describes the sacred, but not only as belief in one God. Instead, the New Testament describes a belief in the teachings, and the resurrection, of Jesus Christ as the son of God. Christians believe Jesus was the flesh and blood son of God, who came to earth to save humanity. Jews (like Muslims) see Jesus as a prophet but not the son of God. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5, p. 1209). The entire text of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, which speaks of brotherhood; community; respect; humility, and forgiveness, in many ways echoes the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament teachings. However, it also contains several key differences.

For example, Jesus states (as a challenge to the Pharisees, a Jewish sect that held to strict interpretation of Mosaic laws): "That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no

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