The Qaraites

Many of you probably already know that, in ancient Roman times, there were three major sects of Judaism: Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes.  In a nutshell, the Essenes are reputed to have been the group from whom sprang Jesus and who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Pharisees were the spiritual ancestors of modern Jewry – and the Sadducess… Few people, outside of religious Jews could define them without looking them up first.

Ancient rabbinic writings refer to the “Saduqim” (Sadducees) frequently – frequently but never kindly.  The reason is that the Saduqim rejected the “oral tradition”, embodied in the Mishna and its commentary, the Talmud. The bulk of what is called “Judaism” today has no clear source in the Bible.  Instead, it is derived from the sayings of the sages, who use often far-fetched methods to show how their opinions are actually based on Scripture.

There are often difficulties with rabbinical interpretations of Scripture.  First and foremost is the fact that the rabbis themselves admitted that “the Torah spoke in the language of man”.  In other words, it was intended for the average Jew (of that time) to be able to understand it.  And yet the rabbis would take a commandment such as “do not cook a calf in its mother’s milk” and deduce from it that it is forbidden to eat meat and milk together.  According to the rabbis, such prohibitions had always been kept, as they had been transmitted from one generation to the next since the giving of the Torah.  Therefore, they were not inventing anything new; only finding sources for what was already known and practiced.

It is problematic for the rabbis that there always seem to have been some Jews who disagreed.  The Saduqim were one such group.  Since the rabbis claimed to represent the Jews in the eyes of the non-Jewish nations – and in the eyes of most Jews – it is not surprising that rabbinical Jews gained the advantage.  So much so that the Saduqim seem to have disappeared from the pages of history by Medieval times.  However, not long afterward, a (possibly) new group of scriptural Jews arose – the Qaraites, also spelled Karaites.  They seem to have materialized in the Middle East in the 7th or 8th century A.D.  The name “Qaraite” (Qara’i in Hebrew) literally means “one who reads” and the word shares the same root as the Arabic “Quran” (something that is read).

It is important to note that Scripture (meaning, of course, the “Old Testament”), lays down no clear definition of who is a Jew.  Thus, unlike their rabbinic cousins, Qaraites have simply given any righteous person the status of “Jew” if he joined himself to the people of Israel and was circumcised.  This is why, if a Qaraite wishes to become accepted among rabbinic Jews, he must undergo a formal conversion according to rabbinical law.  For many centuries, Qaraites and rabbinical Jews have lived oddly parallel lives.  At times, the two communities were strongly intertwined.  It was Qaraites who were mainly responsible for safeguarding the accuracy of Scripture and originating the vowel system most commonly in use today – and (educated) rabbinical Jews will acknowledge this.  At the same time, Qaraites will sometimes acknowledge rabbinical contributions to the understanding of scripture.

For many years I have wanted to meet a Qaraite and not simply out of curiosity.  I’ve always had a nagging suspicion that more of the truth may be on their side than most Jews would care to admit.  Also, it is only natural for one to wish to reconnect with his long-lost cousin.

Recently I got my wish and met a Qaraite who I’d found online.  He turned out to be a very intelligent young man.  We conversed about a variety of topics and each of us learned much from the other.  We hope to meet again.

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About jewamongyou

I am a paleolibertarian Jew who is also a race-realist. My opinions are often out of the mainstream and often considered "odd" but are they incorrect? Feel free to set me right if you believe so!
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24 Responses to The Qaraites

  1. Bay Area Guy says:

    From this, I deduce that the Qaraites are more liberal with regards to their definition of who is Jewish, and that any righteous and religious individual can become Jewish.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, JAY, but I cannot help but be under the impression that “who’s a Jew?” is often conceived of along racial lines.

    A person born to an atheist Jewish mother, and who’s never set foot in a synagogue is considered Jewish, even by the strictest Orthodox Jews, and yet a non-Jew who observes the laws of Judaism and believes what Orthodox Jews believe isn’t considered Jewish, even by liberal Jewish standards.

    I know that Judaism is a religion, but it seems that at least in the eyes of many Jews, who’s a Jew is determined more by blood than by religious practice. I just don’t see this in too many other religions.

    I was baptized Greek Orthodox. However, I cannot recall the last time I ever stepped foot in a church, I don’t practice Christianity, and so I don’t see myself as a “Christian.” And yet even someone like Norman Finkelstein, who would be hard-pressed to recite 5 lines from the Torah is a Jew, even though he doesn’t practice the religion of Judaism.

    If I come across as ignorant of these matters, it’s because I am. This is just my perception

    I also think that this issue is important because I’ve noticed that truly religious Jews tend to respect the host nations they live in, preach true Judaism, and don’t promote subversive movements.

    It seems that many of the Jews who do promote subversive leftist movements tend to be secular ones who don’t really have a religious Jewish identity, but tend to see their Jewishness as racial/ethnic.

    For example, if you watch the excellent film “Defamation,” by Israeli filmmaker Yoav Shamir, he interviews this Orthodox Rabbi in Russia who points out that being a religious Jew means practicing Judaism, not chasing “anti-Semites.” He goes on to point out that pursuing “anti-Semites” and making a big deal out of your Jewishness tends to be a hobby for secular Jews who want to find another outlet for their identity. And if you watch Shamir interview a couple of ADL figures, they point out that they’re not religious and that instead they look for other ways to be Jewish.

    Again, I apologize for my ignorance in advance, and I’m not asking you to speak up for your entire group on your own blog, but I just find this interesting.

    I’m just curious because most of the Jewish people who I find myself getting angry with as a white nationalist/advocate tend not to be religious, but rather secular, and I’m interested in why religious Jews are far more respectful and content than secular ones.

    I guess I should read Shlomo Sand’s book “The Invention of the Jewish People” for more perspective.

    • Patrick says:

      I would define jew as more of a tribal thing than a racial thing. If you examine a tribe it may have racial elements however someone from outside the tribe is free to join the tribe if they go through some sort of initiation ritual. This was true of native American tribes before colonization by Europeans. Native American tribes allowed people to join. As far as I know currently Native American tribes are purely racial because you need to have native american blood to be a member although I may be wrong about that.

      • Bay Area Guy says:

        Good point about tribes. I guess it isn’t purely racial, since you can go through an initiation process.

        My only question is then why someone born to an atheist Jewish mother and who couldn’t cite a single passage from the Torah if his life depended on it is considered Jewish?

        And why are gentiles who adhere to the principles of Judaism and believe what Orthodox Jews believe not considered Jewish, and are in fact strongly discouraged from converting? (rabbis are supposed to strongly dissuade potential converts at least 3 times).

        With regards to American Indians, I do believe that blood is a prerequisite. I don’t think they just let any Tom, Dick, and Harry join their tribes.

        Of course, this blood requirement can lead to complicated issues. I’ve known a decent amount of white people who claim to have American Indian ancestry, and you also hear all the time about white people advertising that small amount of Indian blood that they might have, even if this means making it up at times.

        Real Indians hate this, because these whites with Indian blood (or supposed Indian blood) don’t actually have to deal with the struggles of American Indians, and yet they advertise their Indian blood for the purpose of casino goodies and trying to make themselves more exotic.

        Some blood requirements are more liberal than others, depending on the tribe. I think that over 3/4 of the members of the Cherokee Nation are at least 75% white in terms of blood, and have various blond-haired, blue-eyed members.

    • jewamongyou says:

      I agree with your assessment on all of this – except, perhaps, for the book “The Invention of the Jewish People” which I have not read.

      It seems to me that Orthodox Jews put too little emphasis on the tribal nature of the Jewish people. They seem to think that religion is all that matters. As for secular Jews (who still attach importance to being Jewish) they take the opposite position, believing that heritage is all that matters. I think the truth is somewhere in between. Both heritage and culture matter.

      Yes, “Defamation” is a great film and makes some excellent points.

  2. Patrick says:

    I have heard that Rabbinical judaism arose due to wars of invasion making it impossible to keep the commandments of The Torah and so Rabbis would find principles in various verses and somehow apply those principles to other things that would be applicable to their compromised situation.

    • Bay Area Guy says:

      I do think that religion is often tied to politics and the current situation of your people.

      And of course, people can interpret religion in any way they please. Judaism is hardly unique in this regard.

  3. cruft says:

    will read coments, all three, after this post. it’s early , I’m up, and really lazy. google the Noahide laws/nation for another not inconsequential group.

  4. Nukie says:

    A few questions:

    1) Are the Qarites the same group as the Samaritans?
    2) Where are the Qarates found, predominantly? (if they’re the same as Samaritans, I know where they’re located)
    3) How do they relate to the “Kairites” of the Baltic States?

    • jewamongyou says:

      In answer to your questions Nukie,

      1) No, there are a totally different group; not nearly as ancient.
      2) These days, most of them are found in Israel. Read the Wikipedia article I linked to for more information on that.
      3) I’m not certain who these “Kairites” of the Baltic States are, but it seems like the intention is “Karaites” – the group I speak of.

  5. Benjamin says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future a Qaraite revival took hold in Israel, in a bid to fight the political power of the Rabbinate. Fascinating stuff.

  6. cruft says:

    there is an interesting statement in revelation describing the decapitation of believers in Jeshua. the following link describes how this could be fullfilled under the NWO. those who look into this don’t just stop here there are many others paths that will be worth exploring. enjoy (if hat’s the word); http://www.thewatcherfiles.com/noahide_laws.html

    • jewamongyou says:

      I read some of that link. But really:

      “According to the Pharisees, known today in modern day as Lubavitch Jews, the Noahide Laws are based from their version of the Talmud (Satanic version of the Torah)”

      Lubavitchers might think what they want of themselves, but the real Pharisees would certainly have considered them heretics.

      As for the Noahide laws, my impression is that they are rather crudely codified. They were (to the best of my knowledge) never actually followed by any society. The author of that article is comparing a crude ancient theoretical code of law with modern law.

      • cruft says:

        i don’t know enough about the lubavitchers other than the profound distaste they aroused in me when in Israel. please scroll down to the red type on “public law 102-14”. think, put aside any knee jerk reaction to defend some jewish sect, we’re all jews here, and comment on this particular law. it appears you did not read far enough. this describes the society and legal rational for the murder of believers. remember the anti-christ must have jewish rcognition so were is that to come from?

      • cruft says:

        I have made a booboo. since my inherent laziness was to blame , did not read “about” you. you are a jew and I’m a jewish believer in Jeshua. yikes! what a moron. sorry.

  7. jewamongyou says:

    I’m not sure where you got the idea, cruft, that I was defending any Jewish sect. I also have an aversion to the Lubavitcher movement, having been involved in it long ago. It’s a cult.

    President Bush was, of course, way off base and those Noahide laws are crude – as I already mentioned.

    • cruft says:

      the statement is there is the law on the shelf. that law has it’s rason’etre in the noahide&lubavitchers. the jews must cerify the false messiah. the statement in my bible points to a time those who pledge alligence to Jeshua will be beheaded. seems to connect some dots. too bad wqe are not together in a room as i hate to type and iron sharpens iron.

  8. cruft says:

    jay, if you will be specific i will attempt to answer. just what is unclear?

    • jewamongyou says:

      “that law has it’s rason’etre in the noahide&lubavitchers” – I can’t make any sense out of this statement.

      “the jews must cerify the false messiah” – what does that mean?

      “the statement in my bible points to a time those who pledge alligence to Jeshua will be beheaded” – which “bible” is that? Which statement?

  9. tommy says:

    jewamongyou,

    Since the rabbis claimed to represent the Jews in the eyes of the non-Jewish nations – and in the eyes of most Jews – it is not surprising that rabbinical Jews gained the advantage. So much so that the Saduqim seem to have disappeared from the pages of history by Medieval times.

    More importantly, without a Temple in Jerusalem, the Sadducees were effectively paralyzed.

    Thus, unlike their rabbinic cousins, Qaraites have simply given any righteous person the status of “Jew” if he joined himself to the people of Israel and was circumcised. This is why, if a Qaraite wishes to become accepted among rabbinic Jews, he must undergo a formal conversion according to rabbinical law.

    The Karaites also trace lineage via the father rather than the mother. This creates a rather obvious problem for both communities.

    It seems to me that Orthodox Jews put too little emphasis on the tribal nature of the Jewish people.

    That’s a very strange statement.

    As for the Noahide laws, my impression is that they are rather crudely codified.

    This is correct. If you ask a Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox Jew the details, they’ll likely send you over to Chabad since they are the only ones with a real interest in spreading these laws. Noachidism is very crudely defined. There doesn’t seem to be any commonly accepted standards for such basic things as prayer and repentance. For most Jews, the Noachide laws mostly serve as a way to tell gentiles what they ought to be doing on a reactive basis.

    Bay Area Guy,

    And why are gentiles who adhere to the principles of Judaism and believe what Orthodox Jews believe not considered Jewish, and are in fact strongly discouraged from converting?

    I don’t want to delve too far into the Kabbalistic nitty-gritty, but it comes down to the fact that most Orthodox Jews–and nearly all Haredi Jews–believe that you are born a Jew or you are not. If you are a ger (convert), then it’s because you have always had a Jewish soul (neshama) that was placed in the wrong body. God is simply bringing up back into the fold. (It’s strange, I know. Judaism is a bizarre and often fastidious religion.) Your spiritual status doesn’t undergo a fundamental change because you do or do not practice Judaism.

    The best definition of Jewishness according to Orthodox authorities would thus be a spiritual race that is largely, but not entirely, hereditary in nature.

    • jewamongyou says:

      ” It seems to me that Orthodox Jews put too little emphasis on the tribal nature of the Jewish people.

      That’s a very strange statement.”

      Perhaps I should have written “genetic” rather than “tribal”. Religious Jews are so caught up in religion that, as long as the halakha (Jewish law) says convert, or the descendant of converts, is to be treated just like an ethnic Jew, they see no distinction. Thus, Jewish ethnicity loses any special distinction – except in the sense that it obligates said Jew to follow the Torah – and it is replaced by religiosity.

      • tommy says:

        I think it varies. Modern Orthodox Jewish attitudes toward conversion can vary. More insular MO communities are sometimes intolerant of converts. The convert who marries into such a community may encounter a lot of hostility regardless of their level of observance. These more traditional MO Jews really do see it as an ethnic thing. The same could be said of the Syrian Sephardim who make conversion in their community nearly impossible and who oppose even intermarriage to Jews outside their community.

        Ultra-Orthodox Jews take the “love the convert” stuff seriously–as they take almost everything seriously–and treat Jewishness as a spiritual identity, albeit one that is already give to you whether you know it yet or not.

  10. cruft says:

    jay, will give you the answers just been busy and need a nap.

  11. Ariel says:

    shalom …. I am part of a community in Brazil who embraced the values ​​and concepts of Judaism qaraite .
    It is very sad to know that among qaraites in Israel has developed a type of VATICAN QRAITE that tries to take control of all qaraite the world .
    That the Lord will continue to protect us from such ideas , which basically fleeing everything realmetne the qraismo represents.
    The true spirit qraite recognizes as every Jew who lives and does the commandments of the Holy Scriptures , without the addition or subtraction of his commandments .
    —————————————————————————-
    шалом …. Я частиною спільноти в Бразилії, який обійняв цінності і поняття іудаїзму qaraite.
    Це дуже сумно усвідомлювати, що серед qaraites в Ізраїлі розробила тип Ватикану QRAITE, який намагається взяти під контроль всі qaraite світ.
    Те, що Господь буде продовжувати захищати нас від таких ідей, які в основному, що рятуються все realmetne qraismo представляє.
    Істинний дух qraite визнає кожного єврея, який живе і робить заповіді Святого Письма, без додавання або віднімання заповідями.
    —————————————————————————-
    shalom…. faço parte de uma comunidade no Brasil que abraçou os valores e conceitos do judaismo qaraite.
    É muito triste saber que entre os qaraites em Israel se desenvolveu um tipo de VATICANO QRAITE que tenta ter o controle de todos qaraite do mundo.
    Que o Eterno continue nos protegendo de tais ideias, que no fundo fogem a tudo o que realmetne o qraismo representa.
    O verdadeiro espirito qraite reconhece como judeu todo aquele que vive e pratica os mandamentos das Escrituras Sagradas, sem a adição ou subtração de mandamentos dele.

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