IV. Judaism as Law:
Owing to the Paulinian antithesis of law and faith or love (see Löwy, "Die Paulinische Lehre von Gesetz," in "Monatsschrift," 1903, pp. 332 et seq., 417 et seq.), the Torah, the basis and center of Judaism since Ezra, has been persistently placed in a false light by non-Jewish writers, undue stress being laid upon "the burden of the Law." In reality, the word "Torah" signifies both "law" and "doctrine"; and Judaism stands for both while antagonizing Paul's conception of faith as a blind dogmatic belief which fetters the mind. It prefers the bondage of the Law to the bondage of the spirit. It looks upon the divine commandments as a source of spiritual joy ("simḥah shel miẓwah") and as a token of God's special protection (Ber. 31a), for which it enjoins the Jew to offer Benedictions and to display zeal and enthusiastic love (Ab. v. 20). "God has given the children of Israel so many commandments in order to increase their merit [Mak. iii. 16] or to purify them" (Tan., Shemini, ed. Buber, p. 12). Every morning after having taken upon himself the yoke of God's kingdom, the Israelite has to take upon himself the yoke of the divine commandments also (Ber. ii. 2); and there is no greater joy for the true Israelite than to be "burdened with commandments" (Ber. 17a). "Even the commonest of Jews are full of merit on account of the many commandments they fulfil" (ib. 57a.)
The Law was accordingly a privilege which was granted to Israel because of God's special favor. Instead of blind faith, Judaism required good works for the protection of man against the spirit of sin (ib. 32b). The Law was to impress the life of the Jew with the holiness of duty. It spiritualized the whole of life. It trained the Jewish people to exercise self-control and moderation, and it sanctified the home. It rendered the commonest functions of life holy by prescribing for them special commandments. In this sense were the 613 commandments regarded by Judaism.