Judaism and Confucianism: A Comparison

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Although Judaism and Confucianism appear to be on different realms of the religious spectrum, they have similar traditions deriving from dissimilar roots. The significance of family in Confucianism is strongly upheld by the filial piety rooted within all of the traditions and beliefs. Meanwhile, Judaism’s emphasis on God’s word as being the ultimate path for a righteous life is supported throughout the Jewish adherence to the special laws commanded by God. Whether the foundation of the religion is rooted from filial piety or God’s commandments, both Judaism and Confucianism reflect similar standards in family rituals, religious beliefs, and moral conduct.

Perhaps one of the most well-known traditions of the Jewish faith is the celebration of a young man’s Bar Mitzvah. The ceremony began as a graduation for a schoolboy who had completed his religious education. The focus of study was typically the Hebrew Bible along with other Jewish literature, history, customs and ceremonies (Oxtoby and Segal 110-111). Today, the ceremony is often known as a coming of age celebration for 13-year-olds. During the festivity, the young man reads scripture from the Torah for the first time aloud and may also chant from one of the Torah scrolls (Oxtoby and Segal 61). This significant Jewish tradition is now also widely celebrated for young girls as well, known by the name as a ‘bat mitzvah’.

The celebration of a young man entering the adult life is also celebrated within Confucianism. Because the ancestors have such a large importance in Confucian traditions, this family ritual is seen as the presentation of the youth to his ancestors (Oxtoby and Segal 463). Often held for a young man between the ages of fifteen and twenty, this ‘capping’ c...

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... presenting them with a newly grown man. Neither religion believes in reincarnation or the rebirth of a soul. The Jewish belief upholds that each individual dies and possesses a spirit that is weak and still inferior to God. With strong emphasis on family, Confucianism states that each human has two separate souls upon death, but the individual’s spirit is to live on through descendants. Judaism and Confucianism both have a central idea of correct behavior. Judaism derives their moral code from the word of God, while Confucianism uses filial piety as a means of achieving good behavior. Whether the motive is God or family, both Judaism and Confucianism have established religions with similar traditions and beliefs.

Works Cited

Oxtoby, Willard G., and Alan F. Segal. A Concise Introduction to World Religions. Oxford, Canada: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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