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I keep hearing all these critical remarks from orthodox Jews about what we should and should not do. Then I hear the Rabbi from time to time give a speech where he reiterates "Once a Jew, always a Jew". I do go to an orthodox temple, but I'm not that great in following the guidelines.

Does this mean that you don't have to be excellent at keeping traditions and following these guidelines like keeping kosher to stay Jewish? Your existence is sufficient?

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The term "ultra-Orthodox" is considered by many to be pejorative and should probably be avoided. –  Malper Jan 19 at 16:03

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I'm not entirely clear what you're confused about, but you seem to be mixing two ideas together.

A Jew, generally speaking, will always remain a Jew. He may be excommunicated, but he will always be bound by the commandments and his responsibilities as a Jew.

However, that does not mean that he automatically is rewarded in the world to come. He has to earn that - or at least not forfeit it.

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Yes, but reward is not the only reason to do things that bring reward. –  msh210 Jan 17 at 17:58
    
So metaphorically speaking, 1. There's a reward system, in which you follow traditions and rules you get rewarded in the forthcoming world. 2. Ultra Orthodox Jews are highly aware how the reward system works, and do their best to follow it. –  echad Jan 17 at 19:24
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There is no reward system that is strongly pushed. This isn't like Christian circles where heaven and hell are dichotomies that are heavily enforced into standard thought. Judaism doesn't really concern itself with the world to come because what it entails is a guess as good as any other. The point being is that the term "Jew" in the halachic sense simply means that someone that either converts or is born from a Jewish mother is bound to these commandments. However, you can be a Jew (as a legal definition) and not be very Jewish (not implore Jewish values in your life). –  rosenjcb Jan 19 at 1:34

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