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Compare Christianity's Baptism With Judaism's Brit Milah And Pidyon Ha Ben? With Reference To Human Experience And Sacred Objects.

1281 words - 5 pages

Religious rites are conducted through the use of human actions. In this regard, they fit in with the normal sphere of human activities, but incorporate additional and enriching religious meaning. They are significant acts performed by believers in celebrating, symbolising and making present the central beliefs of their religious tradition. Christianity and Judaism, both perform ceremonies to mark these transitions in believers from one stage in life to the next. Baptism, Brit Milah and Pidyon Ha-Ben are a means of entering the Christian and Jewish community, respectively. The ceremonies for these events reach out in two directions: horizontally, into the community around them; and vertically, into time past and future. These rituals also use symbols and create human experiences to communicate and celebrate the transformation.Baptism may occur at any point in a person's life, but Roman Catholics believe that the sacrament of baptism is extremely important and should be performed as soon as possible following the birth of a child. For Presbyterians baptism is an initiation into the church community as ordered by Christ. When a person is baptised, their sin, both personal and original, is removed. Water is used during baptism as a sign of cleansing and growth. Roman Catholic churches usually include a Baptismal Font, if it is an Anglican Church it will probably be at the back of the church near the West door. This is symbolic as through the pouring of the water, the child is freed from original sin and receives the Holy Spirit. As stated in the bible, "I baptise you in the name of the father...son...and the Holy Spirit." (Matt 28:18-20) This rite has a historical connection between past and present for all Christians, since Jesus was baptised, so are we. Thus establishing a vertical connection.On the other hand, Jews believe that at birth man is pure and free of sin, so it is not neccesary for the baby to be cleansed of sin. The Brit Milah enters the child into the Covenant that God made with Abraham and also into the study of Jewish Law. Just before the circumcision takes place the child is given a drop of wine, symbolic of joy and also acts as an anaesthetic. The removal of foreskin is strictly a male initiation rite, however Chrismation is unisex. It symbolises a sign of fertility, as well as an external sign of the Covenant made between God and the Jewish people. Like Christianity there is a sacred space and reference to scriptural passages. Brit Milah uses a table for circumcision and refers to the passage; "you will circumcise all males." (Genesis 17:10) Therefore it binds the present-day Jewish community together by connecting them with their common past. The difference between an Orthodox and a Reformed Jew is in Reformed Judaism the procedure can be performed by both male and a female, however in the strict Orthodox the ceremony must be done by a specialist called a mohel, who is only male. Brit Milah does not make a person into a Jew as a...

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