Jewish ethics is the ethics of the Jewish religion or the Jewish people. A type of normative ethics, Jewish ethics may involve issues in Jewish law as well as non-legal issues, and may involve the convergence of Judaism and the Western philosophical tradition of ethics.
Biblical and rabbinic
Ethical traditions can be found throughout the Hebrew Bible and the rabbinic Oral Torah that both interpreted the Hebrew Bible and engaged in novel topics.
Ethics is a key aspect of legal rabbinic literature, the literature of halakhah, found in the Mishnah, Talmud and other texts. Ethics is also a key aspect of non-legal rabbinic literature, the literature of aggadah. The best-known text in Rabbinic Judaism associated with ethics is the non-legal Mishnah tractate of Avot (“forefathers”), commonly translated as “Ethics of the Fathers".
In the medieval period, direct Jewish responses to Greek ethics may be seen in major rabbinic writings. Notably, Maimonides offers a Jewish interpretation of Aristotle (e.g., Nicomachean Ethics), who enters into Jewish discourse through Islamic writings. Maimonides, in turn, influences Thomas Aquinas, a dominant figure in Christian ethics and the natural law tradition of moral theology. The relevance of natural law to medieval Jewish philosophy is a matter of dispute among scholars.
Medieval and early modern rabbis also created a pietistic tradition of Jewish ethics. This ethical tradition was given expression through musar literature, which presents virtues and vices in a didactic, methodical way. The Hebrew term musar, while literally derived from a word meaning "discipline" or "correction," is usually translated as ethics or morals. ArtScroll translates the word as censure in Psalms 50:17.
Examples of medieval Musar literature include:
- Chovot ha-Levavot ('Duties of the Heart') by Bahya ibn Paquda.
- Ma'alot ha-Middot by Yehiel ben Yekutiel Anav of Rome.
- Orchot Tzaddikim (The Ways of the Righteous) by an anonymous author.
- Kad ha-Kemah by Bahya ben Asher.
Halakhic (legal) writings of the Middle Ages are also important texts for Jewish ethics. Important sources of Jewish ethical law include Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (12th century) and Joseph Karo and Moses Isserles's Shulkhan Arukh (16th century), especially the section of that code titled "Choshen Mishpat." A wide array of topics on ethics are also discussed in medieval responsa literature.
In the modern period, Jewish ethics sprouted many offshoots, partly due to developments in modern ethics and partly due to the formation of Jewish denominations. Trends in modern Jewish normative ethics include:
- The pietistic musar tradition was continued by 18th-century rabbis such as Moshe Chaim Luzzatto in his book Mesillat Yesharim. Other musar writings were authored by Haskalah writers such as Naphtali Herz Wessely and Menachem Mendel Lefin.
- The musar tradition was revived by the Jewish ethics education movement known as the Musar Movement that developed in the 19th-century Orthodox Jewish European (Ashkenazi) community.
- The 19th- and early 20th-century Reform movement promoted the idea of Judaism as Ethical Monotheism. The writings of Abraham Geiger and Kaufmann Kohler show this approach.
- In the 20th and 21st centuries, liberal Reform and Reconstructionist rabbis have fostered novel approaches to Jewish ethics, for example in the writings of Eugene Borowitz and David Teutsch. Some Reform rabbis have also engaged in applied ethics by writing legal responsa (formal opinions).
- In 20th and 21st centuries, Orthodox rabbis often engage in applied ethics by interpreting rabbinic law (Halakha) in responsa. A dominant topic has been bioethics.
- 20th- and 21st-century rabbis in Conservative Judaism have also produced legal responsa on a wide range of topics. Dominant topics have included bioethics, sexual ethics, and business ethics. Leading Conservative ethicists such as the philosopher and rabbi Elliot Dorff have also written extensively on moral theory.
- In the 20th and 21st centuries, Jewish feminism has produced feminist Jewish ethics, using the principles of feminist ethics. Leading Jewish feminist ethicists include Judith Plaskow, Rachel Adler, Tamar Ross, Rebecca Alpert, and Laurie Zoloth.
- Other modern Jewish philosophers have pursued a range of ethical approaches, with varying degrees of reliance upon traditional Jewish sources. Notably, Hermann Cohen authored Religion of Reason in the tradition of Kantian ethics. Martin Buber wrote on various ethical and social topics, including the dialogical ethics of his I and Thou. Hans Jonas, a student of Martin Heidegger, draws upon phenomenology in his writings on bioethics, technology and responsibility. Emmanuel Levinas sought to distinguish his philosophical and Jewish writings; nevertheless, some scholars are constructing Jewish ethics around his innovative and deeply Jewish approach.
Academic scholars of Judaism have also engaged in descriptive Jewish ethics, the study of Jewish moral practices and theory, which is situated more in the disciplines of history and the social sciences than in ethics proper (see Newman 1998).
In 2003, the Society of Jewish Ethics was founded as the academic organization "dedicated to the promotion of scholarly work in the field of Jewish ethics." The Society promotes both normative research (the field of ethics proper) and descriptive (historical/social scientific) research.
Central virtues and principles
Major themes in biblical ethics
The writings attributed to the biblical prophets exhort all people to lead a righteous life. Kindness to the needy, benevolence, faith, compassion for the suffering, a peace-loving disposition, and a truly humble and contrite spirit, are the virtues which many Prophets hold up for emulation, although Samuel was an important exception, for he urged the massacre of all Amalekites, including women and children. Civic loyalty, even to a foreign ruler, is urged as a duty (Jer. 29:7). "Learn to do good" is the keynote of the prophetic appeal (Isa. 1:17). Prophets yearn for an era of peace and righteousness; war will be no more (Isa. 2:2 et seq.).
Summaries of classical rabbinic ethics
Hillel the Elder formulated a version of the Golden Rule: "What is hateful to you, do not do unto others". Rabbi Akiva stated "Whatever you hate to have done to you, do not do to your neighbor; therefore do not hurt him; do not speak ill of him; do not reveal his secrets to others; let his honor and his property be as precious to you as your own".
Rabbi Akiva also declared the commandment "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" to be the greatest fundamental commandment of the Jewish doctrine (compare to Great Commandment). Ben Azzai, in reference to this, said that a still greater principle was found in the Scriptural verse, "This is the book of the generations of Adam [origin of man]. In the day that God created man [Adam], in the likeness of God made he him".
Rabbi Simlai taught "613 commandments were given to Moses; then David came and reduced them to eleven in Psalm 15; Isaiah (33:15), to six; Micah (6:8), to three: 'To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God'; Isaiah again (56:1), to two: 'Maintain justice, and do what is right'; and Habakkuk (2:4), to one: 'The righteous person lives by his faithfulness'."
Justice, truth, and peace
Rabbi Simeon ben Gamaliel taught: "The world rests on three things: justice, truth, and peace".
Justice, being God's, must be vindicated, whether the object is of great or small value. "Let justice pierce the mountain" is the characteristic maxim attributed to Moses. Stealing and oppression, even if only in holding back overnight the hired man's earnings, are forbidden.
Falsehood, flattery, perjury and false swearing are also forbidden. The reputation of a fellow man is sacred. Tale-bearing and unkind insinuations are forbidden, as is hatred of one's brother in one's heart. A revengeful, relentless disposition is unethical; reverence for old age is inculcated; justice shall be done; right weight and just measure are demanded; poverty and riches shall not be regarded by the judge. We're taught to attempt judging others LeKaf Z'Chut, giving more weight to an assumed side of merit, yet advised what can be translated as Respect but Suspect (ChabDeiHu VeChashDeiHu). 
Shalom ("peace"), is one of the underlying principles of the Torah, as "her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are shalom ('peace')."Proverbs 3:17 The Talmud explains, "The entire Torah is for the sake of the ways of shalom". Maimonides comments in his Mishneh Torah: "Great is peace, as the whole Torah was given in order to promote peace in the world, as it is stated, 'Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace.'"
Loving-kindness and compassion
Simon the Just taught: "The world rests upon three things: Torah, service to God, and showing loving-kindness (chesed)". Loving-kindness is here the core ethical virtue.
Loving-kindness is closely linked with compassion in the tradition. Lack of compassion marks people as cruel. The Torah repeatedly commands the Prophets to protect the widow, the orphan and the stranger.
Health and self-respect
In addition to teaching caring for others, Jewish sources tend to teach that humans are duty-bound to preserve their lives and health. Foods dangerous to health are more to be guarded against than those ritually forbidden. Jewish ethics denies self-abasement. "He who subjects himself to needless self-castigations and fasting, or even denies himself the enjoyment of wine, is a sinner". People have to give account for every lawful enjoyment they refuse. A person should show self-respect in regard to both one's body, "honoring it as the image of God", and one's garments. According to Judaism, real-life goes beyond the concept of breathing and having blood flow through our veins, it means existing with a purpose and connecting to God and others.
Areas of applied Jewish ethics
In the Torah, there are more commandments concerning the kashrut (fitness) of one's money than the kashrut of food. These laws are developed and expanded upon in the Mishnah and the Talmud (particularly in Order Nezikin). The weights attached is evidenced via the widely quoted tradition (Talmud Shabbat 31a) that in one's judgement in the next world, the first question asked is: "were you honest in business?"
Laws concerning business ethics are delineated in the major codes of Jewish law (e.g. Mishneh Torah, 12th century; Shulhan Arukh, particularly Choshen Mishpat, 16th century). A wide array of topics on business ethics are discussed in the responsa literature. Business ethics received special emphasis in the teaching of Rabbi Yisrael Lipkin Salanter (19th century), founder of the Musar movement in Eastern Europe. Enforcing laws regarding the proper treatment of workers in the food industry has been central to the efforts of Conservative Judaism's Hekhsher Tzedek commission and its 2008 approval of a responsum by Rabbi Jill Jacobs which required paying workers in accordance with Jewish law and treating workers with dignity and respect.
The Jewish idea of righteousness ("tzedakah") gives the owner of property no right to withhold from the poor their share. According to Maimonides in the Mishneh Torah, the highest level of tzedakah is giving charity that will allow the poor to break out of the poverty cycle and become independent and productive members of society. Tzedakah may come in the form of giving an interest-free loan to a person in need; forming a partnership with a person in need; giving a grant to a person in need; finding a job for a person in need; so long as that loan, grant, partnership, or job results in the person no longer living by relying upon others.
Traditional Jews commonly practice "ma'aser kesafim," tithing 10% of their income to support those in need. The Rabbis decreed (against Essene practice, and against the advice given in the New Testament) that one should not give away much, most or all of their possessions. They did not expect a supernatural savior to come and take care of the poor, and so they held that one must not make oneself poor. Given that nearly all Jews of their day were poor or middle-class (even the rich of that time were only rich relative to the poor), they ruled that one should not give away more than a fifth of his income to charity, while yet being obligated to give away no less than 10% of his income to charity.
Many pages of the Talmud are devoted to encouragement in giving charity, and this topic is the focus of many religious books and rabbinic responsa.
In addition to voluntary individual donations to the poor, the Mishnah required communities to supply each person in need with daily food rations and a place to sleep, funded by collections from the population.
Ethics of speech
Evil-speaking is a sin regarded with intense aversion both in the Bible and in rabbinical literature. The technical term for it in the latter is lashon hara, "the evil tongue." In the Bible, the equivalent words are: dibbah, meaning "talk" in a sinister sense; rakhil, the "merchandise" of gossip with which the talebearer goes about; and ragal, a verb, denoting the "peddling" of slander. As these words indicate, that which is condemned as lashon hara denotes all the deliberate or malicious accusations or even the exposure of truthful information which has the purpose of injuring one's neighbor, that is, calumny proper, and also the idle but mischievous chatter which is equally forbidden, though it is not slander. The Babylonian Talmud indicates that putting one's fellow human to shame is in the same category as murder and at one point describes slander, talebearing, and evil talk as worse than the three cardinal sins of murder, immorality, and idolatry. The spreading of evil reports, even when true, is branded as a calumny. Listening to slanderous gossip, or the causing of suspicion, or the provoking of unfavorable remarks about a neighbor is also forbidden.
One commandment in the Torah is to use one's speech to correct, admonish, or reprove others (Leviticus 19:17). Some Jews have explained this as a matter of "giving musar" (discipline, instruction) in line with a verse from Proverbs 1:8: "Hear, my child, the discipline (musar) of your father, and do not forsake the teachings of your mother." Some rabbis have emphasized the importance of what to say when giving musar, to whom one should speak, and when (how often) one should "give musar." One suggestion from the late Rabbi Yisroel Belsky is that when there is a need to give musar to a friend: "Give musar as a friend." Some musar is on topics that are a major part of everyday life, such as consoling mourners and visiting the sick. Rabbi Shimon Schwab taught that although "[at times] you must give musar" the command to do so (Lev. 19:17) is followed by love your neighbor as yourself. and that "if you want ..(someone).. to change, (it must be) done through love."Cite error: Closing
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<ref> tag Monogamy is widely seen as the ideal. Celibacy is regarded as contrary to the injunction to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 2:18 and Isaiah 45:18). According to the Talmud and midrash, man is enjoined to take a wife and obtain posterity. "He who lives without a wife lives without joy and blessing, without protection and peace"; he is "not a complete man", and for it, he has to give reckoning at the great Judgement Day.
The laws of niddah prohibit sexual relations during the time of a woman's period. After her period has ended, a woman is expected to fully immerse herself in a mikveh (the ritual immersion pool), entering a state of ritual purity. Sexual relations may then resume. Married couples need to find other ways of expressing their love for each other during the niddah period, and some say that the time of abstention enhances the relationship. Most non-Orthodox Jews have rejected these laws regarding abstinence during menstruation.
Orthodox Jews view male homosexuality as explicitly prohibited by the Torah, but other Jews view various forms of homosexual behavior or all forms of homosexual behavior as permitted by the tradition.
Medical ethics and bioethics
Jewish medical ethics is one of the major spheres of contemporary Jewish ethics. Beginning primarily as an applied ethics based on halakhah, more recently it has broadened to bioethics, weaving together issues in biology, science, medicine and ethics, philosophy and theology. Jewish bioethicists are usually rabbis who have been trained in medical science and philosophy, but may also be experts in medicine and ethics who have received training in Jewish texts. The goal of Jewish medical ethics and bioethics is to use Jewish law and tradition and Jewish ethical thought to determine which medical treatments or technological innovations are moral, when treatments may or may not be used, etc.
The ethics of proper governance is the subject of much contention among Jews. Various models of political authority are developed in the Hebrew Bible, rabbinic literature, and later Jewish literature. Many prominent Jewish thinkers, such as Maimonides, see monarchy as a moral ideal, while others, such as Abravanel, disparage the model of the monarchy. Modern Jews have championed a variety of Jewish political movements, often based on their conceptions of Jewish ethics.
Ethics of warfare
Jewish war ethics are developed by Maimonides in his "Laws of Kings and their Wars," part of his Mishneh Torah. Modern Jewish war ethics have been developed especially in relation to the Israeli military's doctrine of Purity of arms.
The Talmud approves of the death penalty in principle but the standard of proof required for application of the death penalty is extremely stringent so that situations in which a death sentence could be passed are effectively impossible.
Relationship to non-Jews
Jews widely believe that non-Jews who follow the seven laws of Noah will be equally recognized by God. The laws of the Noachide code are: do not engage in idolatry; do not engage in blasphemy; do not murder; do not steal; do not commit acts of sexual immorality; do not cause excessive pain to animals (e.g. eating a limb torn from a living animal); and establish courts of justice.
The principle of Kiddush Hashem requires Jews to conduct themselves in every way as to prevent the name of God from being dishonored by non-Israelites. The greatest sin of fraud, therefore, is that committed against a non-Israelite, because it may lead to the reviling of God's name. A desire to sanctify the name of God may help to motivate some Jews to treat adherents of other creeds with the utmost fairness and equity.
Classical sources teach that Jews must support the non-Jewish poor, bury the non-Jewish dead, comfort the non-Jewish mourner, and visit the non-Jewish sick.
Exhortations to love the stranger "as yourself" (Ex. 22:20; Lev. 19:33) and "Remember the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 10:19), have an important role in many forms of Jewish ethics.
In regard to Jewish-Gentile intermarriage, prostitution and homosexualty: The Talmud teaches:[Sanhedrin 82] לא פגעו בו קנאין מהו אינשייה רב לגמריה אקריוהו לרב כהנא בחלמיה (מלאכי ב, יא) בגדה יהודה ותועבה נעשתה בישראל ובירושלים כי חלל יהודה קדש ה' אשר אהב ובעל בת אל נכר אתא א"ל הכי אקריון "If zealots did not strike him, what is the halakha? Rav forgot that which he learned through tradition concerning this matter. They read this verse to Rav Kahana in his dream: “Judah has dealt treacherously and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, as Judah has profaned the sacred of the Lord, which he loves, and has engaged in intercourse with the daughter of a strange god” (Malachi 2:11). Rav Kahana came and said to Rav: This is what they read to me in my dream. אדכריה רב לגמריה בגדה יהודה זו עבודת כוכבים וכן הוא אומר (ירמיהו ג, כ) [כן] בגדתם בי בית ישראל נאום ה' ותועבה נעשתה בישראל ובירושלים זה משכב זכור וכן הוא אומר (ויקרא יח, כב) ואת זכר לא תשכב משכבי אשה תועבה היא כי חלל יהודה קדש ה' זו זונה וכן הוא אומר (דברים כג, יח) לא (יהיה קדש) ובעל בת אל נכר זה הבא על הכותית Rav then remembered that which he learned through tradition and said: “Judah has dealt treacherously,” this is a reference to the sin of idol worship. And likewise it says: But as a wife who treacherously departs her husband, you have dealt treacherously with Me, house of Israel, says the Lord (Jeremiah 3:20). “And an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem,” this is a reference to male homosexual intercourse, and likewise it says: “You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). “As Judah has profaned the sacred [kodesh] of the Lord,” this is a reference to a prostitute, and likewise it says: “There shall be no harlot [kedesha] of the daughters of Israel” (Deuteronomy 23:18). “And has engaged in intercourse with the daughter of a strange god,” this is a reference to one who engages in intercourse with a gentile woman. וכתיב בתריה (מלאכי ב, יב) יכרת ה' לאיש אשר יעשנה ער ועונה (מאלהי) יעקב ומגיש מנחה לה' צבאות אם ת"ח הוא לא יהיה לו ער בחכמים ועונה בתלמידים אם כהן הוא לא יהיה לו בן מגיש מנחה לה' צבאות And it is written thereafter with regard to those enumerated in the verse: “May the Lord excise the man who does this, who calls and who answers from the tents of Jacob, and he who sacrifices a meal-offering to the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 2:12). The Gemara interprets the verse: If he is a Torah scholar, he will have neither one among his descendants who calls and initiates discourse among the Sages, nor one who answers among the students, i.e., one who is capable of answering questions posed by the Sages. If he is a priest, he will not have among his descendants a son who sacrifices a meal-offering to the Lord of hosts. א"ר חייא בר אבויה כל הבא על הכותית כאילו מתחתן בעבודת כוכבים דכתיב ובעל בת אל נכר וכי בת יש לו לאל נכר אלא זה הבא על הכותית Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Avuya says: With regard to anyone who engages in intercourse with a gentile woman it is as though he married the object of idol worship itself, as it is written: “And has engaged in intercourse with the daughter of a strange god.” Does a strange god have a daughter? Rather, this is a reference to one who engages in intercourse with a gentile woman who is an adherent of a strange god. ו הבא על הכותית חייב עליה משום נשג"א § When Rav Dimi came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said: The court of the Hasmoneans issued a decree that one who engages in intercourse with a gentile woman is liable due to his violation of prohibitions represented by the letters: Nun, shin, gimmel, alef. He is liable for engaging in intercourse with a menstruating woman [nidda] who did not immerse in a ritual bath and remains impure. Although by Torah law there is no impurity of menstruation with regard to gentiles, it has been decreed that one must distance himself from them as he does from a menstruating woman. He is liable for engaging in intercourse with a Canaanite maidservant [shifḥa], as relative to a Jewish woman, the status of a gentile woman is that of a maidservant. He is liable for engaging in intercourse with a gentile woman [goya] and with a married woman [eshet ish]. כי אתא רבין אמר משום נשג"ז נדה שפחה גויה זונה אבל משום אישות לית להו ואידך נשייהו ודאי לא מיפקרי When Ravin came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said: He is liable due to his violation of prohibitions represented by the letters: Nun, shin, gimmel, zayin. Ravin agreed with Rav Dimi that the Hasmoneans decreed that one who engages in intercourse with a gentile woman is liable for engaging in intercourse with a menstruating woman, a maidservant, and a gentile woman. He adds that the individual is liable for engaging in intercourse with a zona. But he disagrees with Rav Dimi and holds that one is not liable due to the violation of the prohibition involving matrimony, i.e., of engaging in intercourse with a married woman, because the halakhic framework of matrimony does not exist among gentiles. Their relationships are fundamentally temporary. And the other amora, Rav Dimi, holds that gentiles certainly do not forsake their wives; therefore, the status of the wife of a gentile is that of a married woman. א"ר חסדא הבא לימלך אין מורין לו איתמר נמי אמר רבה בר בר חנה א"ר יוחנן הבא לימלך אין מורין לו Rav Ḥisda says: Concerning one who comes to consult with the court when he sees a Jewish man engaging in intercourse with a gentile woman, the court does not instruct him that it is permitted to kill the transgressor. It was also stated that Rabba bar bar Ḥana says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Concerning one who comes to consult with the court, the court does not instruct him that it is permitted to kill the Jewish man engaging in intercourse with a gentile woman. ולא עוד אלא שאם פירש זמרי והרגו פנחס נהרג עליו נהפך זמרי והרגו לפנחס אין נהרג עליו שהרי רודף הוא Moreover, if Zimri son of Salu (see Numbers 25:1–9) had separated himself from the woman and only then Pinehas killed him, Pinehas would have been executed for killing him, because it is permitted for zealots to kill only while the transgressor is engaged in the act of intercourse. Furthermore, if Zimri would have turned and killed Pinehas in self-defense, he would not have been executed for killing him, as Pinehas was a pursuer. One is allowed to kill a pursuer in self-defense, provided that the pursued is not liable to be executed by the court. (במדבר כה, ה) ויאמר משה אל שופטי ישראל וגו' הלך שבטו של שמעון אצל זמרי בן סלוא אמרו לו הן דנין דיני נפשות ואתה יושב ושותק מה עשה עמד וקיבץ כ"ד אלף מישראל והלך אצל כזבי אמר לה השמיעי לי אמרה לו בת מלך אני וכן צוה לי אבי לא תשמעי אלא לגדול שבהם אמר לה אף הוא נשיא שבט הוא ולא עוד אלא שהוא גדול ממנו שהוא שני לבטן והוא שלישי לבטן It is stated: “And Moses said to the judges of Israel: Each of you shall slay his men who have adhered unto Ba’al-Peor” (Numbers 25:5). The tribe of Simeon went to Zimri, son of Salu, their leader, and said to him: They are judging cases of capital law and executing us and you are sitting and are silent? What did Zimri do? He arose and gathered twenty-four thousand people from the children of Israel, and went to Cozbi, daughter of Zur, princess of Midian, and said to her: Submit to me and engage in intercourse with me. She said to him: I am the daughter of a king, and this is what my father commanded me: Submit only to the greatest of them. Zimri said to her: He, too, referring to himself, is the head of a tribe; moreover, he is greater than Moses, as he is the second of the womb, as he descends from Simeon, the second son of Jacob, and Moses is the third of the womb, as he descends from Levi, the third son of Jacob. תפשה בבלוריתה והביאה אצל משה אמר לו בן עמרם זו אסורה או מותרת ואם תאמר אסורה בת יתרו מי התירה לך נתעלמה ממנו הלכה געו כולם בבכיה והיינו דכתיב (במדבר כה, ו) והמה בוכים פתח אהל מועד וכתיב (במדבר כה, ז) וירא פנחס בן אלעזר He seized her by her forelock and brought her before Moses. Zimri said to Moses: Son of Amram, is this woman forbidden or permitted? And if you say that she is forbidden, as for the daughter of Yitro to whom you are married, who permitted her to you? The halakha with regard to the proper course of action when encountering a Jewish man engaging in intercourse with a gentile woman eluded Moses. All of the members of the Sanhedrin bawled in their weeping, and that is the meaning of that which is written: “And they are crying at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting” (Numbers 25:6). And it is written thereafter: “And Pinehas, son of Elazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw and arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand” (Numbers 25:7). מה ראה אמר רב ראה מעשה ונזכר הלכה אמר לו אחי אבי אבא לא כך לימדתני ברדתך מהר סיני הבועל את כותית קנאין פוגעין בו אמר לו קריינא דאיגרתא איהו ליהוי פרוונקא The Gemara asks: What did Pinehas see that led him to arise and take action? Rav says: He saw the incident taking place before him and he remembered the halakha. He said to Moses: Brother of the father of my father, as Moses was the brother of his grandfather Aaron, did you not teach me this during your descent from Mount Sinai: One who engages in intercourse with a gentile woman, zealots strike him? Moses said to him: Let the one who reads the letter be the agent [parvanka] to fulfill its contents. ושמואל אמר ראה שאין (משלי כא, ל) חכמה ואין תבונה ואין עצה נגד ה' כל מקום שיש חילול השם אין חולקין כבוד לרב ר' יצחק אמר ר"א ראה שבא מלאך והשחית בעם And Shmuel says: Pinehas saw and considered the meaning of the verse: “There is neither wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord” (Proverbs 21:30), which the Sages interpreted to mean: Anywhere that there is desecration of the Lord’s name, one does not show respect to the teacher. In those situations, one need not consult his teacher, but must immediately proceed to right the wrong that is transpiring. Therefore, he took the spear and took immediate action. Rabbi Yitzḥak says that Rabbi Eliezer says: He saw that an angel came and destroyed among the people in punishment for the sin of Zimri, and he realized that he must take immediate action to ameliorate the situation. ויקם מתוך העדה ויקח רומח בידו מיכן שאין נכנסין בכלי זיין לבית המדרש שלף שננה והניחה באונקלו והיה It is written with regard to Pinehas: “He arose from amidst the assembly and he took a spear in his hand” (Numbers 25:7). From here, where it is written that he took the spear only after he arose from the assembly, it is derived that one does not enter the study hall with a weapon. The assembly in this context is referring to the seat of the Sanhedrin. Pinehas removed the blade of the spear and placed it in his garment [be’unkalo] and held the shaft of the spear like a walking stick, and he was.."
Treatment of animals
According to Jewish tradition, animals have a right to be treated well, even ones that might belong to one's enemy. The Biblical commands regarding the treatment of animals are amplified in rabbinical ethics, and a special term is coined for the prohibition on causing suffering to animals ("tza'ar ba'alei hayyim"). Not to sit down to the table before the domestic animals have been fed is a lesson derived from Deuteronomy 11:15. Compassion for animals is declared to have been the merit of Moses which made him the shepherd of his people, while Judah ha-Nasi saw in his own ailment the punishment for having once failed to show compassion for a frightened calf.
Consideration for animals is an important part of Judaism. It is part of the Noachide code. Resting on the Sabbath also meant providing rest for the working animals, and people are instructed to feed their animals before they sit down to eat. At harvest time, the working animals must not be muzzled, so that they can eat of the harvest as they work. All animals must be kept in adequate conditions. Sports like bullfighting are forbidden. Animals may be eaten as long as they are killed using shechitah, a method where the animal has its throat cut using a specially sharpened knife. Jewish butchers are trained in this method which must meet the requirements of kashrut.
Enforcing laws regarding the treatment of animals in the certification of food products has been part of the effort of Conservative Judaism's Hekhsher Tzedek commission.
The Book of Genesis 1:26 indicates that God gave people control over the animals and earth, while Genesis 2:15 emphasizes that people were put in the world to maintain it and care for it. The Talmud teaches the principle of Bal tashkhit, which some take to mean that wasting or destroying anything on earth is wrong. Many take the view that pollution is an insult to the created world, and it is considered immoral to put commercial concerns before care for God's creation. However, humans are regarded as having a special place in the created order, and their well-being is paramount. Humans are not seen as just another part of the ecosystem, so moral decisions about environmental issues have to take account of the well-being of humans.
Trees and other things of value also come within the scope of rabbinical ethics, as their destruction is prohibited, according to Deut. 20:19 as understood by the Babylonian Talmud. In modern times, a Jewish environmentalist movement has emerged, led by Jews who believe that Jewish ethics demands environmentalism.
- Ethics in religion
- Louis Newman (2003). Introduction to Jewish Ethics. Routledge. ISBN 1138471704. OCLC 1009048521.
- "For you hate censure - ואתה שנאת מוסר
- "Committee on Jewish Law and Standards". The Rabbinical Assembly. http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/law/teshuvot_public.html.
- "ETHICS". JewishEncyclopedia.com. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=499&letter=E.
- Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a; Avot of Rabbi Natan
- Avot of Rabbi Natan
- Lev. 19:18
- Gen. 5:1; Sifra, Kedoshim, 4; Yerushalmi Nedarim 9 (41c); Genesis Rabbah 24
- Pirkei Avot 1:18
- Sanhedrin 8a
- Sanhedrin 6b
- Exodus 21:1
- Leviticus 19:17
- Leviticus 19:15, 18, 32, 36; Exodus 23:3
- Respect him but suspect him, 27 September 2019, https://www.jewishquotations.com/37090/respect-him-but-suspect-him/?doing_wp_cron=1661959380.9133079051971435546875
- Talmud, Gittin 59b
- Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, The Laws of Chanukah 4:14
- Pirkei Avot 1:2
- Jeremiah 6:23
- "COMPASSION - JewishEncyclopedia.com". https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4576-compassion.
- Pirkei Avot 1:6
- Ta'anit 23a
- Berachot 19b
- Hoffman, Lawrence. "The Centrality of Kavod HaMet (Honoring the Dead)" (in en-US). https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-centrality-of-kvod-ha-met-honoring-the-dead/.
- Berachot 32b
- Chullin 10a
- Taanit 11a, 22b
- Jerusalem Talmud, Kiddushin 4, 66d
- Hillel: Leviticus Rabbah 34
- Talmud Shabbat 113b; Nedarim 81a
- "Meaning of Am Yisrael Chai". Ynet. September 1, 2009. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3769384,00.html.
- "Dispatches from the Workplace: Rabbis for Worker Justice". Religiondispatches.org. http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/358.
- Meir Tamari
- Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Matanot Aniyim (Laws about Giving to Poor People), Chapter 10:7-14
- The Jerusalem Talmud Gemara to Tractate Pe'ah 1:1; Babylonian Talmud, Ketubot 50a; Babylonian Talmud, Arakhin, 28a
- see, for example, Bava Batra 9b-11a; Avodah Zarah 17b; Pesachim 8a; Rosh Hashanah 4a
- Mishnah, Peah 8:7
- "Calumny". JewishEncyclopedia.com. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=65&letter=C.
- (B. M. 58b)
- "Gossip, Rumors and Lashon Hara (Evil Speech)" (in en-US). https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/gossip-rumors-and-lashon-hara-evil-speech/.
- "Rechilus: The prohibition against gossiping". https://www.ou.org/torah/mitzvot/taryag/mitzvah236.
- Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak Breitowitz. "How to Give Mussar (Mishlei 12:14 and 12:18)". https://www.ou.org/torah/nach/mishlei-wisdom-for-life/giving-mussar-mishlei-12-14.
- Jeffrey Shandler (2002). Awakening Lives: Autobiographies of Jewish Youth in Poland. ISBN 0300092776. https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0300092776. "twice a week"
- Miriam Adahan (2003). Awareness: The Key to Acceptance, Respect, Forgiveness, and Growth. ISBN 1583306277. https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1583306277.
- "Adam One as Paradigm for Communal Spiritual Leadership". Jewish Journal. November 30, 2015. http://jewishjournal.com/culture/lifestyle/179925. "when it is required"
- Susie Garber (February 14, 2018). "Agudath Israel Of Kew Gardens Hills And Chazaq Host Event In Memory Of Rav Yisroel Belsky". https://www.queensjewishlink.com/local/community-corner/agudath-israel-kew-gardens-hills-chazaq-host-event-memory-rav-yisroel-belsky.
- Steve Lipman. "... Orthodox ...". Jewish Action. https://jewishaction.com/jewish-world/kosher-comedy-the-rise-of-the-orthodox-comic.
- Genesis 2:24
- Yevamot 63b; Mekhilta, Yitro, 8
- Yevamot 62a, 63a
- Shabbat 31a
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- Lisa Grushcow (2014) (in en). The Sacred Encounter: Jewish Perspectives on Sexuality. CCAR Press. ISBN 9780881232035. https://books.google.com/books?id=IuBvvQEACAAJ.
- Correspondent, J. (2006-03-24). "Does loophole legitimize premarital sex for Orthodox" (in en-US). https://www.jweekly.com/2006/03/24/does-loophole-legitimize-premarital-sex-for-orthodox/.
- "A Detailed Explanation of Niddah, or "Family Purity" Laws". https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-laws-of-niddah/.
- "What Is Niddah?". https://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/4005372/jewish/What-Is-Niddah.htm.
- Yom Kippur Torah afternoon reading, 3rd section
- "Judaism and LGBTQ Issues: An Overview" (in en-US). https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/judaism-and-the-lgbtq-community-an-overview/.
- "Adultery". https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/adultery-2.
- "Extramarital Sex and Religion: Democrats vs. Republicans". https://ifstudies.org/blog/extramarital-sex-and-religion-democrats-vs-republicans.
- "Who is most likely to stray?". Washington Post. October 26, 2012. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/who-is-most-likely-to-stray-christians-and-jews/2012/10/26/15ae7b58-1fa1-11e2-8817-41b9a7aaabc7_story.html. "As for extramarital ..."
- "Adultery" (in en-US). https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/adultery. "the only sexual offense recorded in the Ten Commandments"
- "Judaism 101: Jewish Attitudes Toward Non-Jews". http://www.jewfaq.org/gentiles.htm.
- Tosefta Gittin 5:4-5; Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 64a
- "Loving the Stranger" (in en-US). https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/loving-the-stranger/.
- Claussen, Geoffrey (January 2018). "Two Orthodox Approaches to Vulnerability and the Exodus Narrative: The Stranger in the Writings of Irving Greenberg and Meir Kahane" (in en). Studies in Judaism, Humanities, and the Social Sciences. https://www.academia.edu/38017359.
- Exodus 23:4
- Exodus 20:10; Leviticus 22:28; Deuteronomy 25:4; Proverbs 12:10
- Exodus Rabbah 2
- Freedman, Samuel G. (2007-05-19). "Rabbi's Campaign for Kosher Standards Expands to Include Call for Social Justice" (in en-US). The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/19/us/19religion.html.
- Jewish veganism and vegetarianism : studies and new directions. Labendz, Jacob Ari, 1977-, Yanklowitz, Shmuly, 1981-. Albany, NY. 2019-03-25. ISBN 978-1-4384-7361-1. OCLC 1041228582.
- The Jewish Vegan. Yanklowitz, Shmuly, 1981-, Shamayim V'Aretz Institute. USA. 2015-09-20. ISBN 978-1-5173-9302-1. OCLC 949940321.
- Tractate Shabbat 105b, 129a, 140b, et al.
- Judaism and environmental ethics : a reader. Yaffe, Martin D.. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books. 2001. ISBN 0-585-38365-0. OCLC 606827707.
- Benstein, Jeremy, 1961- (2006). The way into Judaism and the environment. Woodstock, Vt.: Jewish Lights Pub. ISBN 1-58023-268-X. OCLC 70698898.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Kaufmann Kohler, Emil G. Hirsch, Executive Committee of the Editorial Board, and Isaac Broydé (1901–1906). "Ethics". in Singer, Isidore. The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=499&letter=E.
Further reading on Jewish ethics
- Abrahams, Israel, ed. 2006. Hebrew Ethical Wills. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society. ISBN:0-8276-0827-6.
- Bleich, J. D. 1977. Contemporary Halakhic Problems. 4 vols. New York: Ktav Publishing House Inc. Yeshiva University Press.
- Breslauer, S. Daniel, comp. 1985. Contemporary Jewish Ethics: A Bibliographical Survey. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
- Breslauer, S. Daniel, comp. 1986. Modern Jewish Morality: A Bibliographical Survey. New York: Greenwood Press.
- Dorff, Elliot N., and Louis E. Newman, eds. 1995. Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality: A Reader. Oxford University Press.
- Dosick, Wayne. The Business Bible: 10 New Commandments for Bringing Spirituality & ethical values into the workplace. Jewish Lights Publishing.
- Newman, Louis. 2003. An Introduction to Jewish Ethics. Routledge.
- Tamari, Meir. 1995. The Challenge of Wealth: A Jewish Perspective on Earning and Spending Money. Jason Aronson.
- Telushkin, Joseph. 2000. The Book of Jewish Values. Bell Tower.
- Werblowsky. 1964. In Annual of Jewish Studies 1: 95-139.
Further reading on Jewish bioethics
- Bleich, J. David. 1981. Judaism and Healing'. New York: Ktav.
- Conservative Judaism. 2002. Vol. 54(3). Contains a set of six articles on bioethics.
- Elliot Dorff. 1998. Matters of Life and Death: A Jewish Approach to Modern Medical Ethics. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
- David Feldman. 1974. Marital Relations, Birth Control, and Abortion in Jewish Law. New York: Schocken Books.
- Freedman, B. 1999. Duty and Healing: Foundations of a Jewish Bioethic. New York: Routledge.
- Jakobovits, Immanuel. 1959. Jewish Medical Ethics. New York: Bloch Publishing.
- Mackler, Aaron L., ed. 2000. Life & Death Responsibilities in Jewish Biomedical Ethics. JTS.
- Maibaum, M. 1986. "A 'progressive' Jewish medical ethics: notes for an agenda." Journal of Reform Judaism 33(3): 27-33.
- Rosner, Fred. 1986. Modern Medicine and Jewish Ethics. New York: Yeshiva University Press.
- Byron Sherwin. 2004. Golems among us: How a Jewish legend can help us navigate the biotech century
- Sinclair, Daniel. 1989. Tradition and the biological revolution: The application of Jewish law to the treatment of the critically ill
- _________. Jewish biomedical law. Oxford
- Zohar, Noam J. 1997. Alternatives in Jewish Bioethics. Albany: State University of New York Press.
- Zoloth Laurie. 1999. Health care and the ethics of encounter: A Jewish discussion of social justice. Univ. of North Carolina Press.
- Jewish Ethics at My Jewish Learning
- Jewish bioethics on the web
- Society of Jewish Ethics
- Jewish Values Online
- "Ethics" entry at the Jewish Encyclopedia
Original source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish ethics. Read more