The emphasis on practice is also seen in the many rules known collectively as halakhah, which cover both the social and ritual aspects of life. The rabbis have been fine-tuning Jewish law down to the smallest detail for the last 2,000 years.
Although the Hebrew Bible contains many rules about such things as feast days and food, the law as it is observed is first and foremost found in rabbinical works such as the Talmud and later works about the law. Rabbis can settle questions about rituals, family law, hereditary law and other judicial matters based on these texts, and they actually did until modern times. Today the Jews are subject to the secular laws of the state, and rabbis only rule on religious matters.
In modern society, few Jews are orthodox, adhering to halakhah to its full extent. The areas of Judaism which the largest numbers of Jews still observe are the commandments to eat kosher food, celebrate the Sabbath, Pesach, Chanukkah and Yom Kippur, and to circumcise boys and get buried the Jewish way. Not everyone keeps all the rules, and each person often creates his or her own set of rules.
Although there are precise and detailed rules about what food is kosher - that is "fit to eat" according to Jewish law - people often interpret the rules their own way. The traditional rules forbid shellfish, pork, horse meat and certain species of fish, and demand that the animals are slaughtered according to certain regulations. It is not allowed to mix milk products with meat. Strictly orthodox Jews only eat food prepared in a kosher kitchen under supervision. Others eat anywhere, and will eat shellfish, although they avoid pork and eating milk products with meat, for example by picking feta cheese out of salad served with lamb chop. In the modern world, every individual Jew weighs tradition against the limitations he or she can afford to live with, for example with respect to social life.
Get a discount of 10% at selected cafés by showing your ticket from the museum (Photo: Eddie Michel Azoulay).
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- an exhibition about Jews in Denmark
The exhibition is a broad story of Jewish life in Denmark and focuses on co-exixstence and indentity through 400 years. Read more...