The Religion of Joy, Hope, and Love.
Judaism is a religion of hope. It teaches men to recognize in pain and sorrow dispensations of divine goodness. It is optimistic, because it does not defer hope merely to the world to come, but waits for the manifestation of God's plans of wisdom and goodness in the moral and spiritual advancement of man. While the present world is, in comparison to the future one, declared to be "like the vestibule wherein one prepares for the palace," it is nevertheless stated that "one hour devoted to repentance and good works in this world is more valuable than the entire life of the world to come" (Ab. iv. 16-17); for "to-day is the time for working out one's destiny, while to-morrow is the time for receiving compensation" ('Er. 22a).
As its highest aim and motive Judaism regards the love of God. Twice every day the Jew recites the Shema', which contains the words: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deut. vi. 5); this verse is understood to enjoin him to willingly surrender life and fortune whenever the cause of God demands it, while it at the same time urges him to make God beloved by all his fellow creatures through deeds of kindness, as Abraham did (Sifre, Deut. 32). This love of God implies the most unselfish devotion and the purest motive of action; that is, acting not from fear, but rather for God's sake alone (Sifre, Deut. 32, 48; Ab. ii. 12); doing good not in view of any reward in the world to come (Ab. i. 3), but for its own sake (see Schreiner, "Die Jüngsten Urtheile über das Judenthum," 1902, pp. 145-151); and it also implies the love of man (Deut. x. 12-19; see Love).
Judaism, finally, is a system of sanctification of life. It teaches that the whole of life is holy, because God is manifested in it: "Be holy, for the Lord your God is holy" (Lev. xix. 1, Hebr.). Even in the functions of animal life the presence of a holy God should be realized (Deut. xxiii. 15); and when the perfect state of humanity shall have been attained, every road will be a holy road free from impurity (Isa. xxxv. 8), and "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holy unto the Lord" (Zech. xiv. 20, R. V.).