Albert Einstein on Judaism

Judaism is one the most ancient monotheistic religions in the world today tracing back to over 3,200 years ago. The holy book of the religious institution is the Tanakh comprised of the Torah (law or teachings), Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim denoting “other writings” (Novak 175). The book provides postulations of the creation, religious ethics and other issues essential to the faith. In Judaism, there is only one God whose form and transcendent power is beyond human comprehension. The religion majorly advocates for the sanctification of life and the upholding of justice as provided in the covenant between man and God. Various philosophers and scholars have postulated their opinions on the religion. One of the most prominent figures to provide an opinion of Judaism is Albert Einstein (1879-1955). He argues that Judaism is more concerned about the sanctity of life than it is about faith. This essay provides an analysis of Einstein’s view on Judaism and discusses whether his opinions are accurate.

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According to Einstein, Judaism is not keen on faith and, therefore, its idea of God is “but a negation of superstition and an imaginative result of its elimination” (Novak 218). He thus views the primary Jewish ideology as the guarantee of life to all beings, and that one’s existence serves as a platform of ensuring high regard and overall preservation of the said life. Einstein thus views the religion as a strategic approach to control the concept of morality, albeit through fear. Since the religious institution is more concerned with the physical concept of life and very little else, he perceives it as lacking in transcendence (which is an essential trait in most faiths) and, therefore, views Judaism beliefs as insufficient with regards to being categorized as a religion. This postulation is given credence by the Jewish belief that “‘to serve God’ is equivalent to serving ‘every living thing.’” (Novak 218). Einstein. However, notes that extensive literalism present in the culture erodes the fundamental principle of the religion namely the sanctification of life.

A thorough analysis of Einstein’s opinions on the Jewish religion reveals that he holds the doctrine of the sanctity of life in a higher regard than any other aspect of the religion. His postulations are therefore partly correct and partly inaccurate. It is true that Judaism considers life holy. It is also accurate that the religions (and many others) attempt to ground morality using fear. This phenomenon is supported by the existence of commandments that make ethical practices law. Literalism is also a major feature of the Jewish faith as evidenced by strict adherence to dietary laws and ancient practices. However, Judaism is indeed a religion and exhibits all characteristics of faith contrary to Einstein’s arguments. While it’s true that the religious institution holds the sanctity of life as a crucial aspect of its foundation, the belief in a higher being that is transcendent in power and who created the world and its contents in six days squarely gives adequate credence to the commitment to faith. The story of creation, God’s covenant with Noah and later Abraham, and the ten commandments given to Mosses all point towards a religion based on more than just commitment to the sanctity of life.

In conclusion, Judaism is a very ancient religion. Various scholars have provided different opinions of the religion. Among them is Albert Einstein who perceives the religion as void of the conventional faith characteristic of most monotheistic religions. He believes that Judaism upholds the sanctity of life over everything else and that the lack of faith in the religious institution makes the Jewish God a result of the creative imagination of its absence. As discussed herein, various elements of his argument are valid including the Jewish emphasis of the sanctity of life, the fact that the religion uses fear to regulate morality and that the religion is marred by extensive literalism that erodes the fundamental meaning of concepts. However, his opinions regarding whether Judaism lacks faith is inaccurate and are contradictory to various beliefs in the religion including the nature of God, the concept of creation and the different covenant captured in the Torah.

 

Works Cited

Novak, Philip. The World’s Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World’s Religions. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1994. Print.