Karaites - Religion

Religious Beliefs. Education of Karaites was based on literal study and understanding of the Torah (Bible). All religious laws were derived from Torah text, from the meaning of words and the context. Karaites deny the divine origin of the Talmud (commentaries on religious belief and law), considering it the product of a folk tradition and appealing to this tradition only in cases where the Torah is unclear or inadequate. In some cases, however, Karaites accept the decisions of rabbinic Talmudists. Over the course of many centuries Karaitism has evolved its own version of a Halachah, or religious code, formerly a code of separate rules, opinions, and decisions. The systematization of this code occurred at the end of the fifteenth century.

Religious Practices. The Karaite calendar is lunar. The celebration of the New Year can fall on any day of the week, and thus the beginnings of many holidays may not always coincide with the Jewish calendar. Unlike rabbinic Jews, Karaites celebrate Passover and Sukkoth for seven days rather than eight, observe no fast before Purim, and do not celebrate Hanukkah as a holiday. Karaites have greater prohibitions regarding work on Saturdays, stricter rules about butchering cattle, and use the meat only of animals indicated in the Bible. As among Jews, circumcision of boys is performed on the eighth day after birth. Karaite liturgy is significantly different from that of rabbinic Jews. Their prayers consist of Biblical texts, psalms, and their own liturgical poetry. Karaitism is in essence a sect of Judaism—beliefs and practices do not go outside the framework of Judaism.

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