Describe what the bible can and cannot tell about contemporary Judaism.
First of all you have to understand some of the first words of the Tanak were written roughly 4000 years ago. Things change and people change over time. This makes it obvious that contemporary Judaism probably doesn't have the exact same traditions as 4000 years ago. There are many levels of meaning with which the Tanak has been, and can be read. In order to get a good understanding of the general ideas of Judaism we need to analyze the literary techniques of the biblical writers and explore how these techniques were used. When we say, "There are 70 facets to Torah" we mean there are many different interpretations out there. .
Judaism involves a way of life and an understanding of human experience through faith. The Tanak has many historical as well as contemporary truths. For example, in Abraham's stories we learn about the origins of the people Israel's religion. However we also are challenged to see the role of women, and how one uses hospitality and ritual. For the contemporary Jewish person, this is what the Tanak can do. Another example would be the Moses stories. Historically we see the fighting between Moses and Pharaoh. But for the contemporary Jewish person we see the relationship people and God, and how the people become religious and spiritual leaders. .
Although these examples show specific ways the Tanak challenges the contemporary Jewish person, there are many different ways to look at things. We know this by looking at the different modern denominations of Judaism: Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist. Reform was started in the 19th century and strives to reinterpret Judaism through Western thought. Conservative is a cross between Reform and Orthodoxy Judaism and is the largest of the four movements. Reconstructionist, the smallest of the four denominations, follows that thought that Judaism should be interpreted in the light of modern life.