Valke2: Help me understand please


Hi Valke2,

Can you please explain to me the difference between this Jew


and someone like Jerry Seinfeld? (bad example I know, it’s first Jewish celebrity I could think of)

Why do some Jews dress like the first picture?

Are they Orthodox Jews? And what do they do different to non-Orthodox Jews?

Thanks :slight_smile:



Not all Orthodox Jews dress as the man in the picture. Orthodox Jews. There are different “sects” within orthodoxy. The differences between Orthodox, Conservaitve (me) and Reform Jews are a little difficult to get into fully here. But I’ll give you some bare bones.

Halacha is the Jewish Law that is derived from the Torah and other scriptures (Prophets, etc). BOth Orthodox and COnservative Jews are bound by halacha. But the method of determining what the law is and how it applies to different situations is different between orthodox and conservative jews.

Generally, for any situation, you can find to opinions on how to apply the law. The ORthodox Jews tend to take the more narrow or “traditional” opionion. THe COnservative Jews tend to follow the more liberal opinion. How one applies the law is also largely based on one’s rabbi. Within the framework of the tradition, law, and scripture, each rabbi sets the standards for his (or her) community.

Does that make sense?

ANother difference:
Orthodox Jews believe that GOd basically dictated the written and oral Torah to Moses at Sinai. COnservative Jews believe a number of different things about revelation (there are really different “sects” within the COnservative movement).

“Conservaite I” believe God dictated his will at Sinai and at other times. These revelations were written down by humans over time. Since the revelation to Moses was hands down the most clear and the most public, it is considered the most authentic recording of God’s will. Post Sinai, Jewish law (and theology) are understood by how each generation of rabbis interpets and applies halacha. So the basis of Jewish law is in God’s will. Rabbis can modify the law for their generation, but only under very narrow circumstances and with “extreme caution.” (don’t ask)

“Conservative II” believes Humans wrote the Torah at various times, and that they were divinely inspired. So the words of Torah carry the authority of God (and insight of God).
Jewish laws and ideas may be changed for two reasons. First since the Torah is a combination of divine inspiration and human articulation, we have to distinguish the divine and human elements and change the latter when circumstances require it. Second, divine inspiration did not happen once and for all at Sinai. It continues on in the form of new interpretations of the Torah in each generation.
When changes are made, they must be made by the community

Conservative III on next post.


CONSERVATIVE III hold that Revelation is the disclosure of God Himself. It is a meeting between God and man in which they get to know each other. Within this group there are various understandings of the act of revelation. But all (within this group) would agree that the Torah is the record of how human beings responded to God when they came into contact with Him. Jewish law’s authority is based on the fact that it represents the attempt of the Jewish People to spell out God’s will, as revealed in the ongoing encounter with Him, and also because Jews are members of a covenanted community and have obligations under that covenant to God and to the Jewish community of past, present, and future.

Both God and the Jewish community command a Jew to act in accordance with Jewish law as it is interpreted in each generation, and the Jew renews his own personal contact with both in so acting.

Since the Torah was written by human beings, if we want to learn about the origins and meaning of the Bible, we must use the techniques of biblical scholarship as thoroughly and honestly as we can. Moreover, because the Bible is the human recording of the encounter between man and God during times past, the specific ideas and laws contained therein reflect the practice, values, and attitudes of those times. They may no longer be an adequate expression of our own understanding of what God demands of us now. We in our day have not only the right, but the responsibility, to make appropriate changes in the Tradition that has come down to us so that it will reflect God’s will as accurately as possible and accomplish it as effectively as possible in the contemporary world.

The communal character of revelation is, in fact, a distinguishing feature of Judaism. Consequently, changes in the laws of Judaism must be made by the rabbis on behalf of the community, as the Tradition requires, and not by individuals on their own. But the entire body of Jewish law, as interpreted by the rabbis of our times, is binding on every Jew as a member of the community covenanted with God and with generations of Jews, past, present, and future

I consider myself more of a Conservative III jew.


In the past, many times Jews were forbidden to wear anything colorful, as it might result in Jews dressing better than the rest of the community. Some sects of Jews continue to wear black. It is a minhag (tradition) rather than a requirement (halacha).


Thanks slyboots for those links.

And thanks Valke for all of that info.

I never knew Judaism was so diverse.

I find it one of the most fascinating of religions, maybe as my faith is so closely related.

At my university here they do a whole subject on Jewish history.

I would love to do it one day.

Do you have any other good links?

Maybe some that have more of an online study mode?

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