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Sacred Narratives

The belief that the rabbis are the authentic heirs to God's revelation of the Torah to Moses, which included an "oral Torah," or interpretive tradition handed down from generation to generation in an unbroken chain of tradition, is the very cornerstone of Orthodox theology, and it is this belief that separates Orthodoxy from all other modern Jewish denominations.

Ultimate Reality and Divine Beings

Orthodox Jews believe that God can only be known through the word, namely the Torah. In the absence of prophetic voices and Temple rituals, whose restoration are contingent on the arrival of the Messiah, deep study of the canonical texts of Judaism, including the Talmud, is believed to be the closest humans can get to communing with the divine.

Human Nature and the Purpose of Existence

According to Orthodox pietistic writings, God endows each individual with good and evil impulses that are in a constant struggle for dominance within the human psyche. Orthodox Jews believe that the only effective antidotes to the temptations of the evil impulse are assiduous study of Torah and strict obedience to its commandments.

Suffering and the Problem of Evil

Orthodox theology adheres to the ancient Jewish teachings, going back to the biblical prophets, which teach that suffering is a sign of divine displeasure with humankind, and that, in the words of the Talmud, "there is no suffering without sin." However, in the wake of the Holocaust's unprecedented challenge to this traditional theodicy, a number of Orthodox thinkers have developed more complex theories about suffering and evil.

Afterlife and Salvation

While it does not place much emphasis on theoretical doctrinal matters and does not offer an official view of the nature of the afterlife, focusing rather on Torah study and obedience to Jewish law, Orthodox Judaism upholds the classical rabbinic belief in the eternity of the human soul and reward and punishment in Olam ha-Bah ("world-to-come").